Yesterday's May Day events brought together protesters across the world in support of workers' rights, with Occupy Denver joining other activist communities on marches, teach-ins and direct actions. But while Seattle erupted in scenes of violence and New York witnessed more than thirty general strike arrests, Denver experienced relatively few police interactions. Denver Police Department officers arrested three people on minor charges during the day's proceedings.
Early in the evening, during an Occupy Denver march to commemorate International Workers' Day, officers cited Harley Cooper, who has been charged with public fighting and interference, says DPD public information officer Raquel Lopez. This arrest inspired the group to redirect its rally later in the afternoon to visit the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center. Protesters were on their way when two men, Tim Holland and Brett Starr, broke off from the group and were arrested for obstructing a street -- a category of crime that includes jaywalking violations.
Holland (MC Sole) is a local rapper, and Starr, who also films the group's activities on livestream, is a techno DJ.
The general strike stemmed from the national level at Occupy Wall Street, where it trickled down to branches across the country. Supporters separated themselves from any civic and commercial action by skipping school or work and refraining from banking or shopping the entire day. In Denver, the local movement gathered around 500 people in the hope of consolidating over a single issue in a larger way than its usual Saturday marches.
Although Occupy Denver organizers emphasized pre-planning, the march's direction changed courses as marchers changed their minds. During a stop at the 16th Street Mall, the protest temporarily shut down RTD. Police officers followed the group via cars, motorcycles and bicycles throughout the march and continued to check in throughout the day. After the first march, protesters were warned that if they stepped into the street again, they would face arrest.
"We were marching to the jail to rally for the arrest earlier in the day when there was a red light," Holland says. "We had crossed the street completely, and the cops told us we were obstructing traffic, though there wasn't any."
The decision to separate from the group and catch up by crossing the street was a tactical error, admits Holland. During the day, Denver police stayed close to the occupation during numerous marches, and conduct warnings had grown strict by the time the two men were taken into custody around 5 p.m. "We were going all across the city, and the police were definitely getting fed up with us," Holland says. "It wasn't like we were marching alone in the middle of the street, but they had told us earlier that they would make arrests."
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The occupation movement has gone on for eight months, but this was Holland's first arrest. He and Starr stayed in custody for roughly six hours until Occupy Denver's legal committee put together their $100 bail fees and they were released. By that time, Holland had missed his 8 p.m. set to perform in support of May Day, and he returned home. Cooper has also been released.
Later in the night, Occupy Denver staged a sleep-in on the 16th Street Mall, with protesters staying overnight to draw attention to their opposition to the proposed urban camping ban, which the Denver City Council preliminarily approved on Monday. The Thunderdome visited to feed occupiers, and the night ended without arrest. Click to view livestream content from the event.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Photos: May Day general strike marked at Civic Center Park."