Peter John Jentsch, current Occupy Boulder protester and bodyguard of Occupy Denver's canine leader, Shelby, was released from jail last night after he was arrested early Sunday morning for third-degree trespassing. For now, a newly approved restraining order keeps him from returning to Occupy Boulder's current home. Although Jentsch admits he entered park property after Boulder's new curfew was enforced, he says he was not camping, only carrying a tent as symbolic speech.
"I think that (the restraining order) is very specifically chilling to my First Amendment freedom of speech, but it was suggested by the prosecutor and approved by the judge in court yesterday," Jentsch says. "It feels directly aimed at keeping me from exercising my right to protest."
Jentsch's trip to the occupation turned sour when he realized he was the only person there. Although he had planned to come down earlier, he was delayed until around 2 a.m., when he stopped by and realized he was alone. "Someone had been planning to set up tents that night without sleeping in them and just leave them up," Jentsch says. "I told them I wasn't willing to do that, but I was okay to bring a tent down and kind of just walk around with it. When I got there, I immediately noticed that I was the only person there, which is not a good idea."
Although the tent was fully erected, Jentsch says his intention was never to set it up or camp. He was holding it above his head as a sign of sorts when a police officer confronted him. "A police officer ran up and stopped me, basically tackled me, and put me in pain compliance as I was Hare Krishna-ing," Jentsch says.
Although his restraining order keeps Jentsch from entering the occupation's physical home, he will still participate in events outside of it and says Occupy Boulder might decide to re-occupy its former space near the courthouse. He'll be attending an off-site general assembly later this afternoon.
Original post, 12:52 p.m. January 10: When Westword last spoke to protester (and owner of Shelby, Occupy Denver's elected leader) Peter John Jentsch, both he and the occupation's head canine were preparing for Occupy Boulder to put up a fight against its city's new park curfew.
This never happened: But although Occupy Boulderites opted to leave the area instead of confronting police, Jentsch was later arrested on suspicion of third-degree trespassing.
Jentsch is the first confirmed curfew arrest, and as of noon today, he was still in custody. He was arrested after Boulder police discovered him with an orange tent on city property at approximately 1:45 a.m. After a dance party that lasted well into the night, most of the night's gathering, formed from both Occupy Boulder and Occupy Denver protesters, had left the property around midnight. Many viewed the night as a victory, given that police gave warnings but largely did not need to enforce the ban.
"We're not leaving, but we do have some different options under consideration as far as what to do," Jentsch told Westword Saturday. "We're going to wait to see what police officers do, and then we're going to plan our strategy based on their actions. But we'll be dancing all day and night while we wait."
According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Jentsch is the first protester to have erected a tent at Occupy Boulder, where he and Shelby now spend most of their time. First arresting officer Erin Starks wrote the following report in the Boulder Police Department's statement of his arrest (on view below):
"I observed, from my patrol vehicle, an orange tent sitting at the plaza at 1777 Broadway. I observed a male party (Peter J. Jentsch) standing next to the tent. I observed a cardboard sign next to the tent that read, 'Occupy You Can't Evict an Idea.' I observed that the phrase was written on the sign with purple paint.... I observed City of Boulder signs posted directly to the north and south of the area where Jentsch stood. The signs read, 'Park Hours Parked Closed 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. No Person or Property May Remain During Hours of Closure.'
Ofc. R. Perea turned the patrol vehicle around and traveled toward Jentsch. Jentsch quickly picked up the tent and sign and walked E/B across Broadway. I exited the vehicle and walked toward Jentsch. I asked that Jentsch stop, but he ignored my request and continued walking. I jogged toward Jentsch and again asked him to stop. Jentsch slowed, made a call on his cell phone, and continued to walk. Jentsch stated on the phone, 'I am being arrested and assaulted.' When Jentsch made the statement I hadn't touched him....
I asked for Jentsch's name and date of birth. Jentsch refused to provide the information and began to repeatedly chant 'harekirshna.' I informed Jentsch that he was required, by law, to provide his name and date of birth. Jentsch refused to provide his information and I placed him into custody on 01/09/2012 at approximately 0145 hours.... Ofc. Eric Talley arrived to the scene and took possession of Jentsch's tent."
Page down for additional information and a copy of the full statement. Jentsch's arrest also included an active warrant in Pueblo for a failure to appear in court for an original charge of careless driving.
Throughout the night and afternoon yesterday, both local occupations joined forces to come up with the $1,500 required to post Jentsch's bond and reunite him with Shelby, which Occupy Denver reps say has been collected in its entirety. Supporters took to Twitter to ask for donations, and one user even offered his car as collateral. Officials at the Boulder County Jail confirmed that no bond has yet been posted, however, and they do not have an estimate for Jentsch's release.
Here's the aforementioned report:
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More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Shelby lauded at Occupy Wall Street, prepares for Occupy Boulder eviction."