The close of tonight's Occupy Denver concert was a completely different scene from only one week ago. Although it ended with police presence, the number of cops left is the same 10 to 15 who stayed from last night until about 5 a.m. to monitor those who have grown used to falling asleep to the sound of honking. The most important difference, however, is that the night ended without altercation.
The Denver Anarchist Black Cross lists one arrest confirmed on its Twitter page, but relationships with the police stayed peaceful throughout the day. Only one man was asked to vacate physical park property after the 11 p.m. curfew, and the rest needed no reminder. A near-average crowd of about 40 people remained to spend the night, but the rest vacated the amphitheater that had been full only an hour earlier. Many wore orange tape (Occupy Denver's accepted solidarity color) to commemorate the number of people arrested: Those who were arrested usually wear their own number.
"Our goal right now is really just to play it cool," protester Scianda Long says. "We're still not going to leave, and we have no plan to, but we also have no plans to get arrested again. We're keeping things as peaceful as possible."
The night's protest became escalated between 8 and 9:30, when an anti-police brutality rally that began at the zoo at 6 p.m. wove its way through downtown and circled the area twice. By the end of the night, the Occupy Denver crowd included a generous share of zombies and anti-brutaliy protesters who had joined the group's ranks, but the number was not nearly as high as it had been expected to grow.
One of the reasons tonight's turnout might have been lower than expected is the lack of police altercations within the last week, which helped to raise the group's attendance at last weekend's rally. Instead, the day focused firmly on entertainment and community-building. (Aside from dirty pots, zero evidence of any of the Thunderdome's several meals throughout the day remained in the kitchen at its close.)
The night's entertainment included a diverse mix of rock and electronica artists and public speakers, including the American Indian Movement's leader Glenn Morris and local electronica act Whomp Truck, for an evening that eventually ended with blown speakers and a mix of both talented and terrible dancing. The result was a surprisingly subtle progression from a week that ended with 50 arrests. Original post: Today's first official Occupy Denver concert and rally event is so far accompanied by both better weather and better odds of continuing peacefully than last week's rally. Although it is attended by roughly the same number of people, approximately 3,000 at the current rate, the group is dedicated predominantly to festivities occurring in Civic Center Park's amphitheater, a mixture of music and political speeches that includes both celebration and frequent references to words like "hegemony" and "propaganda." This is not to say, however, that the day is without tension.
Thursday's 7 p.m. general assembly meeting began with an announcement that the group is again prepared for bail expenses, should anyone need them by the time Saturday night ends.
While last week's rally had already expanded to cover Broadway between 14th and Colfax by this time, today's maintains an amiable sidewalk presence instead. Approximately 50 police officers are currently positioned around the park, but no streets have yet been closed off. a handful of bike cops occasionally patrol the internal goings-on at Civic Center Park.
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As the crowd gathered at the park continues to increase, so does the level of police presence, but all interactions remain noticeably peaceful. The Thunderdome, currently heavy on water but shorter than usual on food items, has been rebuilt on the sidewalk of the other end of the park since last week's rally, and it no longer includes any tent covering. The current plan is to remove whatever items are possible, leave the rest and rebuild again in the future if police become involved later in the night. Right now, however, the group is permitted use of the park until 11 p.m., when the night's festivities are scheduled to conclude. The goal in the meantime is for Occupy Denver to raise its public presence and awareness through its largest planned event to date. This includes T-shirts available for donation, drum circles, a renewed free library and soup currently being boiled in the Thunderdome.
"We just want to continue to grow and develop and become a stronger force in the community," says medic Patricia Hughes, who was instrumental in the creation of the first round of shirts. "Each week, we grow, and it's important that we maintain a consistent presence and keep getting our message out in more significant ways."
the day also includes two other large events in the area, an anti-police brutality rally at the zoo and the annual Zombie Crawl downtown. If leftover members from both stop by Occupy Denver, the group promises to increase exponentially from its size last week.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver has cost Denver Police and Sheriff Departments $365,000"