Occupy Denver petition protests arrests, hopes for 10,000 signatures

A great deal of attention has been lobbed at the number of Occupy Denver arrests made over the weekend: fifty in two days. And though the Denver Anarchist Black Cross has been hugely instrumental in guaranteeing the release of the prisoners on bond, funds are running low. In an effort to reduce the number of arrests made in the future, Occupy Denver is supporting a petition on its website to protest the practice.

Of the original 24 protesters arrested, only five required bail in order to be released, and then only because of previous criminal records. The stakes were raised significantly, however, when all of the 26 protesters arrested in the second round required bonds -- a sign that the legal system is hardening its approach to the occupation. Bailing volunteers out of jail means paying a portion of their bail rates up front, but it often also requires another volunteer co-signing their release as a responsible party.

This is an expensive series of events, to be sure, but it's not the personal funding the protesters are focused on in their petition. It's the state expense: The group's websites asks supporters to sign the online document in order to show opposition to the allocation of tax funds required to provide extra police presence to monitor the occupation and arrest protesters. (This argument names Governor John Hickenlooper directly.)

"In other cities, political officials are getting involved with their occupations, setting up tents and getting to know people," occupation medic Patricia Hughes says. "At ours, they're just arresting us."

An exception: Representative Wes McKinley, whose teepee temporarily joined the now-dismantled tent city.

The group's goal is to guarantee a solid 10,000 signatures by Saturday, an important date in the local occupation. This weekend marks both a regular rally and the group's first all-day concert, a free event that will include more than ten musical acts in addition to speakers such as American Indian Movement leader Glenn Morris. This past Saturday's rally organized a group of around 3,000 (though larger estimates verge on 4,000 to 5,000), and the group hopes to double even that highest number when it comes to the amount of signatures.

At more than 1,300 signatures at this writing, the group is more than one-tenth of the way toward its goal. Within the petition's first hour online, it had already collected 150 signatures. This quick growth in numbers follows the same trend as the sizes of the group's weekend protests, which have at least doubled each week since their inception.

"The only way to get the governor and the mayor to listen is to make them aware that a lot of people are watching," Hughes says. "Numbers are the only things we can get them to listen to because we can't get them to pay attention to a peaceful protest. And those numbers are growing."

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver has a day of peace -- for now (PHOTOS)."