As part of the "Every 5th" series of monthly rallies organized by the groups Anonymous and Occupy Denver, demonstrators took to the streets near the State Capitol on Monday night to protest police brutality. The Denver Police Department soon got involved in what an Anonymous release describes as violent shoving that victimized elderly women and children, and several protesters were arrested.
Afterward, Anonymous representatives wanting to get the cops' point of view on what happened found out all they needed to do was tweet at them. We've got the Twitter exchanges below, along with a gallery of photos from the scene.
Per the screen shots from Twitter posted below, the administrator of @MyAnonNews, an Anonymous Twitter handle, asked @DenverPolice, "Can we get an interview about #every5th?"
According to Matt Murray, the Commander of the Chief of Staff for the DPD, the department has a policy for that. "If people want to ask us a reasonable and respectful question, we will give a reasonable and respectful response," he says.
Murray notes that the Denver police Twitter account receives many questions each day, and even though "Anonymous hates us," the feed's administrators won't exclude organizations as a matter of course. "It's part of our transparency," he says. "We will answer any questions."
That doesn't mean the DPD will engage with every Twitter troll or angry citizen. It's all a matter of approach -- and the one used by Anonymous made the grade even though the organization was asking why protesters were "ambushed by police."
Here are screen captures of the conversation.
Did the exchange clear up the confusion? That's debatable. Continue for more about Anonymous, the Denver Police Department and Twitter, including additional photos from the protest. As the conversation makes clear, both Anonymous and the Denver police got stuck on the "characterization of events" -- and in his interview with Westword, Murray admitted that he was still unclear about everything that happened. However, he confirmed that police are on hand at each "Every5th" protest to "ensure public safety" and acknowledges that officers will intervene if demonstrators walk into traffic, move against traffic signals or violate other laws.
For its part, Anonymous issued a statement about the protest alleging that "a line of riot police charged the march and violently pushed several people, including elderly women and children, to the ground in addition to making several unprovoked arrests."
In the author's view, "It was very apparent to eyewitnesses that Denver Police were maliciously targeting protesters in an attempt to intimidate them into ceasing first amendment-protected protest activity. The Denver Police continue to claim that their actions were to keep the public safe, which is very odd when reconciled with the sounds of innocent bystanders screaming as the police rushed and attacked."
The following screen capture from @AnarchoAnon, another Twitter account associated with Anonymous, mentions four arrests in what are described as live tweets from the protest:
Later, Denver Anons posted on Facebook that a total of five arrests took place at the demonstration -- a figure confirmed by the Denver Police Department.
Murray adds that the DPD is open to anyone interested in reaching out via Twitter. If people want to ask us a question," he says, "we will give a response."
Continue to see more photos from the protest, courtesy of Denver Anonymous. Continue to see more photos from the protest, courtesy of Denver Anonymous. Continue to see more photos from the protest, courtesy of Denver Anonymous.
More from our News archive: "Videos: Police brutality protests by Occupy Denver, Anonymous end in six arrests."
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.