The mass protest against the weekend's North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit might be 1,000 miles from Denver, but its ties to the city are represented by at least 25 Occupy Denver protesters who traveled to attend. And when Occupy Wall Street placed a call for national action this weekend, the local branch responded with an anti-NATO march down the 16th Street Mall. Tonight, on the summit's final day, the group will continue its efforts with a candlelight vigil.
As Occupy Denver rallied downtown for two hours last night, several of the group's peers in protest checked in from Chicago over the phone. Reports carried stories of violence and several interactions with the police, which served to further spur the fifty or so marchers through the city. So far, the Chicago Police Department has reported fewer than two dozen arrests total so far, and many articles focus on the peacefulness of protests.
Of the 25 Denver occupiers who are currently in Illinois, "no one is in jail," says Occupy Denver protester Tanner Spendley, who is with them. The group is spread out across the city, staying with friends, churches -- and in fields. "So far, everyone is free and safe."
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A couple, however, are injured -- and yesterday, Chicago police officers arrested one Occupy Boulder protester for failure to disperse. The charge is the first of any Colorado occupiers involved in the NATO protest. Westword will continue to provide information as it occurs. In the meantime, one Occupy Denver protester is providing frequent updates from his perspective under the Twitter name @DrBenway23.
Yesterday's march also ended without arrest, though it peaked in a push for traffic obedience from Denver Police officers around 6:30 p.m. When protesters took to the streets to march in solidarity with the thousands in Chicago, roughly thirty officers blocked their passage with police vehicles, stepped out of them and formed a riot line in the center of the street, armed with pepper ball guns and facial shields. From here, the protesters opted to reverse their route and stick to the sidewalks.
As the march concluded, dialed-in reports of violence increased, motivating Occupy Denver to plan a second event for this evening. The group will converge in Lincoln Park at 8 p.m. for a peace-focused candlelight vigil.
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