What Really Happened When Occupy Denver Got Evicted
The internet made it possible for Americans to watch the events as they happened from multiple viewpoints. The perspective varied wildly, depending on whether the live stream producer was part of the movement (which all of them were) or if the video captured and uploaded was from an observer’s perspective.
CDNews posted both a live stream from an obvious participant and an uploaded youtube video from one of our observers. One thing I noticed is that if you muted the audio on the stream/video, you had a better chance at an objective viewpoint. The comments behind the video attempt to “color” the video one way or another. Perception is everything.
In October, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock met with protesters to discuss the parameters within which their protest would be considered lawful (video below).
After the discussion, the Mayor indicated that the talks had gone nowhere.
It was clear to me they want to occupy the park. We simply cannot allow that to happen. We don’t want to set a precedent by allowing people to pitch tents in our parks overnight. We’ll honor their right to freedom of speech and freedom of assemble. We asked them to observe the laws of the City and County of Denver. And we asked them, for their own safety and wellbeing, to vacate the park each night at 11 p.m.
Mayor Hancock indicated earlier this month that something was going to have to be done when he said that “We simply don’t want to set a precedent where … everyone who asks us can be in our parks after 11 p.m. or pitch a tent in the park.“.
Saturday afternoon, the Denver police department offered to have two protesters speak with them at a nearby command post. The protesters were told that any property or persons blocking the sidewalks surrounding the park had to be removed. The response from Occupy Denver was to block Broadway just 45 minutes after the conversation.
The Denver police, fearing for the safety of everyone involved, then closed down Broadway in the area closest to the park.
A garbage truck was then brought in to remove anything still on the sidewalk. Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said that any property that looks like it belongs to someone would be logged and made available for reclaim at a later date. Everything else was to be thrown away.
At just after 7pm – the full eviction began.
Denver police and state troopers in riot gear pushed through the park extinguishing fires and moving the protesters out of their illegally-erected tent city. Blossoms of smoke rose through the air as unlawful wood-fires were extinguished. The smoke was mistaken by many as tear gas.
The Occupy Denver movement was quickly displaced from the park and forced out on to the 16th street mall where a small group of them attempted to block traffic. The Denver police were quick to respond and easily cleared the public nuisance with only the threat of arrest. One person was arrested for failing to comply with a police order when he did not keep clear of the street as he had been instructed.
The protesters then split into multiple smaller groups heading to different parts of downtown Denver. Some headed to various smaller parks in the area, others headed to a Denver independent film festival to stomp on the red carpet and another group attempted to locate the Mayor who was reportedly speaking in a downtown building.
Several of the protesters did try to re-enter the park only to find a strong police presence preventing re-entry. Mayor Hancock promises that protesting in the parks after 11pm will be strictly prohibited.
Twitter has been alive of claims of police brutality, but as of Sunday, no official complaints have been reported nor has any video of the alleged abuse surfaced. Considering the density of cameras and recorders, some evidence would seemingly be easy to produce.
CDNews did seek comment from Occupy Denver’s leadership, who at this time is a Collie-Mix named Shelby T. Dog. We were put in-touch with the PR group for Occupy Denver, but have not been offered an interview or statement from Shelby, the Occupy Denver General Assembly or anyone else operating in an official capacity.