As tension between police and protesters in Anaheim continue to make national news, Occupy Denver activists staged solidarity protest last night -- and faced four reported arrests of their own. Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson confirms two of these, though the group's legal team has since bailed four people out of jail for charges including obstructing a street or passageway and disobeying a lawful order. Protesters estimate they marched three miles yesterday in support of the struggles in California.
"The climate of the march was very empowered and exciting," activist Tim Holland says. "Occupy Denver was really disturbed about what was happening in Anaheim because the idea of massive oppression hit us hard and lots of us have experienced it in different ways. The people who came out were just a fearless group."
As of this morning, all four of those reported to be arrested have been released from jail. Their bail cost $600 in donations to Occupy Denver's legal team and was raised within three hours of the arrests. One of those who faced brief jail time last night is Chris Schiano, a long-time occupier who marched through downtown last night with a group that fluctuated between forty and eighty people. The event focused on support for Anaheim and opposition to police brutality. In the video below, protesters target both issues in their interaction with police.
Schiano spent most of the march on his bike as the group rallied on the 16th Street Mall and throughout the streets surrounding Coors Stadium. Activists started marching around 4:40 p.m. and continued for three hours, followed by Denver police officers. Over that span, they ventured from the sidewalk to the streets and occasionally blocked traffic. Jackson says officers repeatedly warned the group to stick to the sidewalks.
However, Schiano says he was on the sidewalk when he was arrested. As the group neared the intersection of Colfax and Pennsylvania more than an hour into the march, police officers had blocked off the streets, and the protesters stopped on the sidewalk to hold up signs and shout chants. At that point, officers arrested the protester using the group's megaphone, allegedly for obstruction, and Schiano took over.
"I picked up the microphone and said something like, 'Occupy Denver doesn't associate with terrorist organizations, and the DPD is a terrorist organization,'" he says. Then he was arrested for "obstructing a street or passageway and disobeying a lawful order. On my ticket they said they had warned me several times to get out of the street, but that's not true. I simply wasn't walking on the street. I biked the entire time and then got on the sidewalk to pick up the mike."
A clip from yesterday's march:
Video streaming by Ustream
In total, Occupy Denver reports that three men and one woman, names not yet confirmed, were arrested yesterday afternoon for obstruction charges. Schiano and others say at least two, if not all, were standing on a sidewalk at the time of their arrests, not the street. Jackson has confirmed two arrests. We'll update this post with more information as we get it.
In the meantime, our sister paper, OC Weekly, has reported extensively on the protests in Anaheim.
Read Occupy Denver's full statement on Anaheim:
"In solidarity with cities across The United States, Occupy Denver is calling for a solidarity march in response to the massive violence and repression of residents in Anaheim California. Time and time again the justice system turns a blind eye to the violence committed by the state, whether it is someone tortured in a jail cell, beaten on a sidewalk, or in this case; shot in the back. Many accept the fact that the men in badges who shake us down for traffic tickets, harass communities of color, and preserve the status quo of the ruling class are out there preserving some sort of moral order. This is not a moral order, for no moral order attacks people seeking to have their grievances redressed. It was not a moral order that attacked with batons, fired bean bag rounds and rubber bullets at children in Anaheim this week. We call on everyone in Denver who is fed up with police murders & state repression to take the streets with us. We will honor the souls that were lost in Anaheim, and remember those who have befallen the same fate in Denver. At 4PM We will rally at the Denver Skate Park at 2205 19th Street, between Platte Street and Little Raven in Denver and depart at 4:30. We will head downtown, and route will be determined by consensus. This is very short notice, so spread the word & bring some friends."
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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "James Holmes: 24 counts of first-degree murder, 116 counts of attempted murder."