Nearly three weeks before 28-year-old Desmond Howard Derrick scaled the Pioneers Monument statue near Civic Center Park on October 14, claiming to be armed with dynamite and forcing the evacuation of nearby buildings and the closure of Colfax, Lincoln and Broadway streets during rush hour, he'd invited "all Westword journalists" to come to his house "and hold vigil...at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 27th."
Derrick, who eventually surrendered to Denver police officers posing as a CNN camera crew, had faxed a typed invite bearing the same convoluted message he passed out to bystanders before last week's antics: "I have been chosen by the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons) to serve as their endtime Son of Man. In their belief at the endtime they must themselves LITERALLY CRUCIFY their Son of Man in order to travel, along with their resurrected ancestors, to their three-tiered concept of heaven. Everyone else goes to hell. I value all life, including my own, and DO NOT wish to die under this sorcery. Please tell this to all Christians you know especially Christian pastors. They may very well understand."
The Christian pastors may have understood, but we didn't -- or at least we all professed to have other pressing engagements on September 27 (hastily concocted commitments perhaps inspired by the handwritten note on Derrick's fax, which read "This could possibly be the biggest story since newsprint...And no I am not a crazy!").
Derrick, who told police he just wanted to be on TV, apparently doesn't know how to work the media.
Not only did Westword ignore his original fax, but last Thursday, Channel 7 continued its 4 p.m. broadcast of Oprah Winfrey's show rather than cut to live footage of the unfolding situation at Civic Center Park. Oprah's topic that day was "Do one thing differently" -- and if only Derrick had been watching, he'd have known that "by deciding to do just one thing differently and then following through with it, you can change your outlook or situation for the better."
In fact, Derrick couldn't have chosen a worse time to try to get the attention of both national and local news outlets, which were busy capturing Boulder DA Alex Hunter's interminable press conference on the JonBenét Ramsey grand jury, followed by Boulder police chief Mark Beckner's interminable press conference on the same grand jury. "In the end," Beckner said, "all of the media attention doesn't matter."
Had Derrick been watching Beckner instead of shouting his proclamations to those stone pioneers, he would have felt better Monday when not a single reporter showed up for his arraignment in Denver County Court. The only journalist in sight was a Westword reporter there to cover another case, who did double duty watching Derrick read a small book (it's not easy turning pages while wearing handcuffs) as he waited for Judge Celeste C de Baca to order him to to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. On Tuesday he was charged with possession of a false explosive or incendiary device and refusal to leave premises. Bond was set at $10,000.
Derrick's demonstration wasn't the only police intervention in the Civic Center Park area that day. It wasn't even the most interesting. A bike messenger who sped through the police barricade, saying he was on his way home, was tackled and arrested, witnesses say. And one block away, at the Central Library, the cops were called to investigate a truly foul situation.
Library employees have dubbed the incident The Stinkbomb.
"Sometime after 4 p.m., our guards were alerted that there was some filth in one of the bathrooms, and they went to investigate, and there was a man who was stripped down and washing at the sink. What he had told our guards is that he had [long pause here] lost control," says a library spokeswoman who was happy to get to the bottom of the situation for Westword. "He was given a plastic bag and a change of pants. The police were called, because initially we weren't sure what the situation was...We thought it was vandalism at first. The police delivered a warning and a lecture on respecting public property. I guess it was on the floor and some on the walls, but I wasn't there.
"That's the full poop," she adds.
Art for the common fan
Public property has also been on the mind of the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, whose Public Arts Advisory Committee has been meeting in private to figure out how to spend money on artwork to be installed at the new stadium for the Denver Broncos. So far, the only decision that the nine-member committee has made, says MFSD operations manager Kelly Leid, is that a statue of John Elway will not be part of the mix.