Although many in the public perceive Occupy Denver to be a thing of the past, the organization remains quite busy, staging regular protests that recently were dubbed "reprehensible" by the Denver Post.
More evidence of ongoing activity: This weekend, a downtown march featuring OD and Anonymous resulted in a dust-up with Denver cops that ended with the arrest of six demonstrators and claims of police brutality -- the subject of the march in the first place.
Get details and see photos and videos below.
On April 5, the Post published "Shame, Occupy Denver, shame," an opinion piece by the paper's Jeremy Meyer that decried ongoing protests by the organization against the city's urban camping ban, passed in 2012.
In the piece, Meyer focuses not on OD's objections, but on its targets: the Tattered Cover bookstore, whose owner, Joyce Meskis, hasn't denounced the ban, and the home of Tami Door, the pro-ban CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. About the Door rallies, Meyer writes, "The protest is constitutionally legal but morally reprehensible."
Cut to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, when a march took place on the 16th Street Mall. According to an Occupy Denver release, "This protest, called by the informal net-based group known as 'Anonymous,' was part of the 'Every 5th' event series, in which protesters have gathered downtown on the 5th of every month to protest various issues since November 5, 2013. This particular march was planned in solidarity with protests over a recent police murder of a homeless man in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with an eye to similar ongoing police brutality issues in Denver."
Screen captures from two OD-blessed videos on view below offer a glimpse of what happened. In the beginning, marchers headed down the mall unencumbered.
But as participants began to move into the street, police attempted to shoo them out of traffic. A physical confrontation followed. Not everything is caught on camera, but it appears that one demonstrator laid hands on an officer who was pulling at another marcher. A scuffle ensued, with one protester forced to the ground.... ...and others taken into custody. Continue for more about the arrests over the weekend, including two videos. A subsequent Occupy Denver release quotes a participant:
"There were about 50 of us at the march. We peacefully marched from Civic Center Park to the 16th st mall, our usual march route. As soon as we turned off the mall, police officers violently tackled individuals, swung clubs at others, and sprayed clouds of pepper spray at the crowd. They then formed a line and took out rubber bullet guns, and continued to try to antagonize the crowd. The crowd grew larger as pedestrians became alarmed by the aggressive behavior of the Denver Police Department. There were also numerous military-style vehicles present with SWAT officers riding on the outside. This seems to be a deliberately intimidating response in which DPD is trying to send a strong message to the citizens of their city that the police will not tolerate people speaking out against police brutality. Despite the police violence, our march continued successfully for several hours, snaking through city streets, denouncing police brutality with chants and fliers. This sort of behavior by the police really only serves to promote our protest, and as we saw today, it actually encourages people to join us."
Occupy Denver notes that the six people arrested at the event pleaded not guilty and were released on bond or personal recognizance.
Other Occupy Denver assertions, quoted from an organization post:
• Police kept insisting the protestors' water bottles in their backpacks were "molotov cocktails" even after smelling the water. Repeatedly.
• They were taken to what appeared to be a mass arrest area that had been set up in advance. There was a table piled with sandwiches and frosted cupcakes. When asked by one of the protesters if the cupcakes had been made especially for the occasion. A cop responded "Yes, there are cupcakes. And they aren't for you!"
• One Denver Sheriff was heard bragging in the jail to another sheriff about how he had just said to one of the cuffed arrestees "I can beat the shit out of you and won't even lose my job. Nothing will happen to me."
• Multiple photos of direct police interaction during the protest were deleted off of one of the arrestee's cameras.
• When one bystander tried to ask a question about the protest, he was called homophobic and sexist slurs by the police as he was being arrested.
As for the Denver Police Department, a rep encapsulated the action in the following tweet:
#BREAKING: 6 arrests downtown so far from protestors. No property damage reported at this time. Several specialty units assisting.
— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) April 6, 2014
Here are two videos shared by Occupy Denver. The first is a brief look at arrests. The second is a longer look at the protest and its aftermath.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Follow That Story archive circa May 2012: "Photos: Cries of 'Shame!' as camping ban passes at tense council meeting."