Activism

Occupy Denver at six months: Ten unintended consequences of the movement

Today, on Occupy Denver's six-month anniversary, the organization is separated from its long-time home in Civic Center Park. Regardless of whether you expected the movement to make it this long, the past half a year brought no shortage of eye-opening events and preparation for the future. In order to contextualize the hundreds of stories that have come out of Occupy Denver's tenure downtown, Westword looked back at ten consequences of occupation that weren't part of the plan.

10. Crime rates In November, two months into the occupation, the frequency of late-night crimes occurring in the surrounding Capitol Hill area had increased by 30 percent. Although police told Westword the hike in incidents was not related to the amount of department resources allocated to Occupy Denver, the coincidence is worth considering. In recent months, however, mass mobilizations in the park (now closed to the public) have significantly decreased, drawing fewer officers away from other events on a regular basis.

9. Media harassment This entry might earn us some of our own in the comments section, but it's important to remember that the occupation did bring us the phrase "bad nut-tap joke gone wrong." Accused of groping a television news journalist, protester Corey Donahue coined the summary when he told Westword the event never happened. In recent weeks, the most noticeable case comes from Fox 31: Earlier this month, television reporter Eli Stokols earned the ire of protesters (and dispensed it right back) when they interrupted his live broadcast with signs reading "Fuck the Police." Several F-bombs were dropped that day.

8. The Family of Love In addition to actual love, Occupy Denver created an entire offshoot community devoted to it. Launched on the side of the street opposite of the occupation proper, Fort Love became the temporary home to between twenty and thirty protesters dedicated more to peace and philosophical discussion than to direct political action. Although the group's streetside resort has since been demolished several times, its members continue to live together outside of the park and have since developed a distinct organization of their own. In the future, look for more events from the Family of Love.

7. Rumor control With great political power comes a great desire to talk about it -- a lot. Because of Occupy Denver's constantly shifting roster of issues, agendas and personalities, it occasionally becomes difficult to decode what is a rumor and what is reality, what's just a Twitter feud and what is an immediate action. The most notable example of the trend toward exaggeration came in December, when occupier Nicole Sisneros led a candlelight vigil downtown for her own death. Clearly, she is still alive, but rumors that she had frozen overnight during the frigid month swelled so extensively that even after she appeared in the park, the death was attributed to another Nicole, a homeless woman who also did not die (and might not have existed at all). For a more recent example, see the unsubstantiated claims that the downtown "Fuck the Police" rally included urine bombs. 6. Dog jokes One dog to rule them all -- and in the park, tents bind them. Occupy Denver's elected leader, four-year old Border collie mix Shelby, might spend most of her time at her home in Boulder these days, but her position created national controversy -- and terrible jokes. Those at the general assembly where she announced her candidacy probably had no idea the mild-mannered pooch would make it on NPR, Rachel Maddow and hundreds of other outlets before eventually appearing in TIME magazine's list of Top 10 Oddball News Stories in 2011. Because her position is mostly symbolic, we guess this means her bark is worse than her bite. (The opposite is true on Twitter, though, where a fake account in Shelby's name raised more than a few hackles.)

Page down to read the top five unintended consequences of Occupy Denver on its six-month anniversary.

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Kelsey Whipple
Contact: Kelsey Whipple

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