In the wake of the largest upheaval in the occupation since its eviction from Lincoln Park, Occupy Denver's focus is firmly on taking the steps necessary to guarantee a safer and more permanent future.
One option the group recently voted to support is taking steps toward financial security by establishing the group as an official nonprofit. The process, though, is a lengthy one.
Since the most recent round of 23 arrests, the Thunderdome and the group's legal team, led by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, have severely diminished their resources by bailing out most of the arrestees so far. Even some of Occupy Denver's budget was allocated to bail fees this week, and with an almost weekly upgrade in the minimum bond rate per protester (this week it was $750), the regular distribution of funds puts a large strain on the occupation's finances.
With the creation of the group's first finance committee and PayPal account, the goal was to organize all donations given to Occupy Denver and create budgets for how they are to be spent through the general assembly process. Last week, the GA took its stance one step further by voting to make Occupy Denver either a co-op or a nonprofit, though the second option is favored.
This step would add more stability and official oversight to the group's finances while perhaps making it more likely for people to donate to an institution whose paperwork has been documented and approved. Currently, on-site donations have been made more difficult through the police ticketing cars that stop temporarily in front of Broadway between Colfax and 14th.
"The treasury committee is looking to start a co-op and/or a 501(c)(3), and they're going to do things to make sure that we are self-sufficient and sustainable regarding all of our donations," says camp medic and longtime volunteer Patricia Hughes. "We would prefer not to have to rely on outside entities, and a tax exempt status would definitely help."
As of right now, no paperwork has been filed, but the group is in the process of researching and completing it. "While the headquarters is being taken care of, the committee is in the process of getting itself together," Hughes says. "They need the treasury committee to actually be fully functional before it can do anything, and we've been a bit slow-moving so far. The goal here is ultimate accountability and transparency across the board."
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Police start ticketing drivers who stop to donate in front of Civic Center Park."
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.