Activism

Occupy Denver timeline: Two-and-a-half months that have shaken the city

Monday's hearing in regard to Occupy Denver's request for a temporary restraining order against the city and county is one indication of how far the movement has come in its short life span. In the little more than two months the movement has called Broadway its ideological home, the group has seen more ups and downs than Colorado's fall thermometer. Before Judge Robert Blackburn announces a decision in favor of either side, take a look back at the occupation's best and worst moments.

• Occupy Denver held its first (and possibly messiest) general assembly on Friday, September 23. When protesters met in Lincoln Park across from the Capitol, they were immediately greeted by a state trooper who told them -- without any ominous foreshadowing -- that they could not stay on state property. One half remained on the grass while the other half moved to the sidewalk. In retrospect, it was a sign of things to come -- but protest veteran Mel Van Nice called it "beautiful."

The Thunderdome, the kitchen that has since been torn down and re-created six times, was the group's first institution, supported in those initial weeks by committees organized to protect and oversee a growing Occupy Denver population.

October 7: Everyman rapper Lupe Fiasco stopped by the occupation with tents and parkas.

• On October 11, Governor John Hickenlooper publicly announced that the occupation could not continue to remain on state property.

• Hickenlooper stayed true to his word. From 3 a.m. until roughly 6 a.m. on the morning of October 14, police arrested 24 protesters -- the first busts here. Most were taken in on charges of unlawful conduct on state property, though protester and medical marijuana activist Corey Donahue, in a telltale twist of fate, earned an additional charge of resisting arrest.

• On October 15, there were an additional 26 arrests -- adding up to fifty pleas of "not guilty" echoing in front of a judge over two days. (Donahue also earned a charge of unlawful sexual conduct: "a bad nut-tap joke gone wrong," he explained.) The back-to-back altercations included the first use of pepper spray and police batons on protesters, and the Colorado State Patrol closed Lincoln Park to the group on a permanent basis. The cost to the Denver police and sheriff's departments to date: more than $700,000.

• The protesters moved to Civic Center Park, where, on October 18, the sprinklers were turned on while they slept. It was cold. The same day, protesters scheduled a meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock, which went approximately nowhere.

October 19: Occupy Colorado Springs held a candlelight vigil to discuss the violence at Occupy Denver. The action gained attention outside of Colorado, too: The Daily Beast named Denver "The Angriest City in America," thanks to both Occupy Denver and Tea Party protests.

• On October 20, concerned that agent provocateurs were distracting and damaging the gathering, an Occupy Denver general assembly voted to ban its first protester, a woman named Molly, from all group activities.

• Misunderstandings between police and protesters grew tense on October 25, when officers descended on the camp and took down a cardboard structure. The city's no-structures rule was soon reconfirmed when an igloo was bulldozed after protester Stephen Lidanne was arrested (for the first time) inside of it.

October 26: Five occupiers were hospitalized for symptoms relating to the season's first snowstorm. Since then, two more have also faced similar circumstances.

• Later that week, police arrested 21 protesters during an altercation involving more than forty police vehicles and 200 police officers in riot gear. The night of October 29 was the most brutal to date: Phillip Becerra was shot in the face with pepper balls, while 21-year-old Andrew Cleres was shot out of a tree. The police launched two investigations for felony assault on a police officer.

The timeline continues below.
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Kelsey Whipple
Contact: Kelsey Whipple

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