The 16th Street Mall was temporarily shut down Wednesday, when Occupy Denver staged a march against the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a conservative nonprofit that favors large corporations, demonstrators said, and its membership includes over 2,000 state legislators. The protest under the banner of "Shut Down the Corporations" was part of a nationwide Occupy protest, with over sixty cities participating.
Denver protestors referred to the march as an "educational anti-ALEC tour of downtown Denver," guided by "Alex from ALEC" -- she was disguised in a blonde wig and wished to remain unidentified. Stops along the tour included corporations benefiting from ALEC: the State Capitol Building, Phrma, Wells Fargo, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Verizon, Century Link and Van Cise Simonet Detention Center.
Occupy Denver protester Tim Holland, who helped organize the Denver tour, refers to ALEC as "basically doing the work of a lobbyist."
"People talk about the new world order and these secret conspiracies that don't really exist, but ALEC is a conspiracy that actually exists," he says. "They're responsible for getting a thousand laws passed every year, they have state legislatures that are part of their organization. It's literally like all the biggest organizations use ALEC to get laws passed."
"The constitution says corporations aren't supposed to write our laws, but indeed that's what is happening," says Kathleen Markle, regional organizer of Colorado MoveOn. "See how many companies there are writing really bad legislation to help their company, and it has nothing to do with the American people. So this is the day we're protesting it."
The tour began at the Occupy Denver home base in Civic Center Park at 3 p.m. and progressed up the steps of the Capital Building. Call and response chants of "Whose streets? Our Streets!" echoed as riot police unsuccessfully tried to direct protestors out of the streets and onto the sidewalks.
Each stop along the tour consisted of an "educational speech" about how ALEC is involved with the corporation and how it denies the rights of citizens -- followed by chants of "Fuck you (insert respective corporation)."
En route to Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, occupiers made a surprise stop at the privately-owned Denver Pavilions, where things got a little heated: Guards forced protesters out of the area, and protestors cooperated before any arrests were made. Generally, peace between cops and protesers remained until the final stretch of the tour when one Occupy protester was arrested for not remaining on the sidewalk during the march. Page down for more photos from Occupy Denver's anti-ALEC tour of Denver.
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More from our Occupy Denver archive: "F*ck the Police march: No evidence of urine-filled balloons, DPD says."