On Friday, the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, a collective that defends the rights of those involved in mass political and social movements, announced its intention to firmly remove itself from the arena of Occupy Denver. By the time of its decision, the twelve-person group had drawn together more than $15,000 used for bailing prisoners out and other means of support, and it remains more than $8,000 in debt as a result of its participation.
The decision is accompanied by a lengthy and reasoned explanation of the motivations behind it, which have developed as time progresses. At the end of the explanation, the group also broke down its financial contributions to the local movement, which you can read at the end of this post.
"As of December 4th, our collective has decided to no longer support Occupy Denver," the statement reads. "This means we will not be providing our legal line for Occupy actions; fundraising for the movement; encouraging our members, friends and allies to get involved; as well as serve roles such as CopWatch and Medics.... We want to be clear that our decision is not based on a generalized, absolute rejection of everyone involved in Occupy Denver."
Instead, the group's vote to pull out is largely informed by internal struggles within the movement, including what its official statement refers to as a frame for "economically privileged, hyper-nationalist white heterosexual males." The DABC continues to support Liberate Denver, an offshoot movement dedicated to providing a safer space for those interested in the movement who've developed concerns about internal divisions based on class, gender, race and other social factors. Ideologically, they can no longer support the Occupy movement's local chapter.
In the occupation's first two and a half months, at least one representative of the DABC was present at every single arraignment for an arrest related to Occupy Denver, and it was the DABC's phone number that was scribbled in Sharpie on the arms and legs of protesters as a last-ditch security measure before altercations with the police. The DABC provided the overwhelming majority of bail money for all protesters arrested before yesterday (a large sum of which bailed out our current cover subject, Corey Donahue). The decision to end this role means the group's internal legal committee is now independently responsible for all further legal actions in the future.
Recent arrestees include Amelia Nicol and Benjamin Dolon, who at last report are still in custody after being arrested during Occupy Denver's attempt to shut down Loveland's Walmart distribution center yesterday. (Both have also been arrested during previous occupation-related events.)
"Over the past few months, Denver ABC has devoted a tremendous amount of resources and energy into Occupy Denver," the statement continues. "Our collective has staffed a 24/7 legal line, coordinated the bailing out of almost one hundred demonstrators arrested over the last two months, and onsite CopWatch and Street Medics. We've made an earnest and largely successful effort to get supporters into the courtrooms for nearly every hearing and court appearance featuring our arrested comrades."
The group has also come under considerable fire as a target for political division inside the movement, particularly during rallies. Two Saturdays ago, one DABC member was falsely called out as a CIA agent when she spoke using the public mike at a rally in front of the Federal Reserve. In the meantime, the group notes, "There is a lot about the Occupy movement that we find inspiring."
Below is the DABC's breakdown of its total legal support for Occupy Denver:
Funds received: $16,531
Funds used: * Bonds -- $14,210 * Jail Phone Fund -- $1,660 * Food/supplies for released arrestees, legal line-- $237 * Commissary for long-term arrestees -- $315 * Total -- $16,512
Debt: * Canceled bonds (Failure to appears, etc) -- $8,100 * Loans -- $460 * Total -- $8,560
Read the remainder of the DABC's decision on the group's website.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "With Occupy Denver protester Corey Donahue, nothing is ever easy."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.