Activism

Occupy Denver clashes with police (again) over tents raised for cold weather (PHOTOS)

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Because of poor weather that began with cold rain and eventually transitioned to solid snow, the group huddled under trees, umbrellas and tarps, and all personal property was covered with donated blue and black tarps, or "tents without poles" as the group distinguishes them from the park ordinance banning structures. The Thunderdome was hardly recognizable under a series of plastic shields collecting puddles while protecting the food.

At 6:40 p.m., three Denver Police Department cars arrived on the scene in reaction to this alleged violation of the park's anti-structure rules.

After an interaction that lasted about half an hour, the four tents were quickly taken down in order to avoid arrest. The decision to put them up originally created a stir between members of the group, one side of which considered them dangerous to the group's political well-being and the other side considered protection against the danger of the cold.

"You guys know the rules by now, and if you erect any kind of structure like this, tents or anything, we're going to have to come over and take it down," DPD sergeant Jeff Hausner told the occupation's security team. "If you keep everything neat and don't make this another shantytown like the one across the street and don't put up any tents, we won't bother you. We want you to be safe."

Worried about the group's future -- the health of the participants and the health of the movement if people are scared off by the weather -- several occupiers questioned the officer about the realities of the winter.

"This isn't Arizona, and we know what the weather's like," Haunser said. His fellow officers offered the group pamphlets for local shelters. "Do whatever you need to do to protect yourselves, but you can't erect any structures like this. We'll be watching over you and checking in every day, so we'll know if you build anything. If you want to be protected from the elements, you should leave the park and return home."

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Kelsey Whipple
Contact: Kelsey Whipple