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October 15, 2011 03:03 AM UTC

I Stood With Occupy Denver

  • 90 Comments
  • by: AndrewBateman

(Timestamped first person account of last night’s #OccupyDenver eviction, worth a read & Andrew says he’ll respond to comments following Occupy assembly today. – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

By Andrew Bateman

Candidate for State House

Colorado District 41

www.BatemanForColorado.com

I was with the crowds in Lincoln Park from the afternoon yesterday until the last arrest was made this morning. This was not my first time visiting the protest, but it was certainly be the most memorable.

I stood with them because the right to free speech and assembly is, by far, the most sacred of our constitutional values.

I do not agree with everything that the group stands for, much less each individual within the group, but if we do not all stand behind them and support their right to protest, we are all sacrificing something.

And to be clear, we cannot pretend that this was about camping, nor can we allow others to frame the debate that way. The tents were removed from the park nearly an hour before the arrests began and well before police started forcefully removing individuals from the public space. Most of the arrests took place after 5am, when the park was supposed to have re-opened. People who were arrested and charged were not sleeping in tents, they were standing or sitting on the sidewalk with signs. Meanwhile, a few blocks away, people camped out on the sidewalk waiting for the new iPhone 4s were undisturbed.

Freedom of Speech and the Freedom to Assemble does not have a curfew. If someone wishes to protest at 3am, they have just as much right to do so as someone who protests at 3pm.

Full firsthand account after the jump…

I went downtown yesterday with the intention of being an observer and, if necessary, to provide first aid to injured protesters. I did not intend to be a part of the protest itself, but to stand with them in solidarity.

At 10:40pm,

twenty minutes before the 11pm deadline to vacate, I held a press conference along with John Fleck, President of the Denver Area Labor Federation and Dwayne Stephens, President of the Colorado AFL-CIO. Together, we expressed support for the protesters and their right to remain if they choose.

At 2:45am,

an unmarked Chevy SUV with police lights pulled up to the corner of the park farthest from the protesters and announced that, pursuant to CRS 18-9-117, Lincoln Park was closed from the hours of 11am – 5pm. Anyone remaining in the park at 3:15am would be arrested and any property would be seized.

This announcement was repeated continuously until 3:15, when hundreds of officers in riot gear from the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), the Denver Sheriff, and the Denver Police Department (DPD) marched in formation from their staging area (a parking garage at 14th and Lincoln), down to Lincoln Park.

One of my biggest objections

to the police action was that the officers in riot gear did not have their name or identification displayed anywhere on their uniform, and all of them had been instructed not to speak or respond to protesters in any way. Many protesters, who believed that a particular officer was being excessively forceful, requested the officer’s name so they could file a complaint against them. They did not receive a response from the officer or the supervisors standing behind the line.

I experienced this myself

when I was trying to film officers dragging protesters away from the kitchen area. As I tried to hold up my camera to get a good shot, an officer struck me with his baton, first to the side of my head, behind my right ear, and than shifted his grip and struck me in the genitals. The Denver Post camera crew was standing right behind me when it happened and filmed my attempts to request the officer’s name and badge number, which was unsuccessful.

I will be filing a formal grievance with the state patrol at a later time. Today, I am focused on telling the story.

By 4:30am,

All of the tents had been removed, mostly destroyed by CSP officer and thrown into the back of dump trucks operated by CDOT.

With all of the tents gone, but protesters still remaining inside the park, many believed that the police would begin withdrawing in preparation for the park’s re-opening at 5am.

Instead, one of the officers announced to the group that the first aid and kitchen structures were required to be deconstructed within fifteen minutes.

At 4:45am,

The SUV which had been repeating the announcements all night, changed the language to now say that the park was closed indefinitely and that everyone was required to leave.

The remaining protesters had formed a circle around the kitchen, determined to protect it. They were seated on the ground with arms locked.

At about 5am,

long after the original fifteen minute deadline, and at the point when the park was originally supposed to re-open to the public, Police reformed the lines and began forcefully shoving protesters, reporters, legal observers and medics all the way across the street into civic center park, well out of range to closely observe and document what happened next.

A second line of police approached the protesters seated around the kitchen and began to drag them, one by one, away from the kitchen against their will. Protesters did not actively resist or retaliate in any way, but also did not cooperate.

These protesters were handcuffed and lifted onto the back of motorized carts, which transported them to the holding facility constructed between the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Public Library.

The first aid and kitchen structures when then destroyed by CSP officers and thrown into the back of CDOT dump trucks, along with all of the donated food and medical supplies within them.

By 7am,

Protesters still present in the park were continuing to be arrested.

When I attempted to follow one of the arrested protesters to film what was happening, I was by a line of CSP officers who were obstructing the south third of Civic Center Park, preventing me from following the arrested individual. Instead, I had to walk all the way around the park to reach the holding facility. The police had erected a barrier along 14th ave and I could not get any closer, but I was able to observe and document some of the procedures. Officers in the holding area were continuing the policy of not identifying themselves when requested.

Final Points

Until 3am, the protest was nothing more than a peaceful demonstration on public land.

When the decision was made to send in hundred of riot police, cdot crews, paramedics, and countless other personal (at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars to the taxpayers), it then became a massive obstruction to the morning traffic. Broadway and Colfax were both closed until 6am and Broadway remained closed until 7:30am.

The state action was expensive and unnecessary, to say nothing of the fact that it was a violation of the first amendment right to assembly.

At the Press Conference last night, CSP Chief Col. James Wolfinbarger said that the purpose of the action was to have the park ready to be open to the public at 5am. Yet, the park has remained closed to everyone, protester or not, long after the 5am point passed.

The Sad Conclusion

Elected officials, celebrities, and others who had previously expressed support for the movement and participated by staying in the park overnight all left before the police action began. I was discouraged to see how few candidates or elected officials were willing to remain at or near Lincoln Park and witness the events. If our representatives are unwilling to stand by their people at the most difficult times, they are not truly our representatives.

By Andrew Bateman

Candidate for State House

Colorado District 41

www.BatemanForColorado.com

Comments

90 thoughts on “I Stood With Occupy Denver

  1. …to questions or comments throughout the day.

    However, I am on my way back downtown for the groups 7pm General Assembly, so it may take a while to respond directly.

    Thank you for your patience.  

    1. Now we have a credible eyewitness, observer and participant’s report.  And you’re right . This isn’t about camping.  If it happened as you have reported it, and I don’t doubt you, then I withdraw all my former comments about how maybe a compromise could be reached concerning the over nighters and that, here in Denver marches or rallies with really big numbers might garner more attention. No excuse for striking people taking photos , especially in the head and/or genitals and I found the following the most telling of all:

      Meanwhile, a few blocks away, people camped out on the sidewalk waiting for the new iPhone were undisturbed  

      And there you have it. Sxp and Ralphie won’t get any further quibbling from me over details.  Thanks again for being there and providing this report.  

            1. Do you have a problem with his campaigning for that office? If he weren’t, and you were aware of his campaign, wouldn’t you be wondering why the candidate had not done anything to make others aware of his position on issues, especially since he has a primary?

              1. With the self-aggrandizing nature of his support for a protest that was occurring two house districts over from his own. Why not lead an OccupyAurora? Why not walk his district?

                How about his Twitter post the next day:

                http://twitter.com/#!/andrewcb

                I didnt expect ALL elected officials and candidates to be able to be there to observe #OccupyDenver. But I shouldn’t have been the only one.

                Anyone who has been following this story knows that this statement is pure bullshit. Several other elected officials and candidates Andrew should really focus on his own race, his own district, and his own finances if he has a chance in hell of beating someone like Terry Todd. But I’m sure he appreciates you promoting his self-regard and his diary.

            1. Is appropriate for DukeCo? I am not sure you grasp the term ‘irony.’  Your screen name is also not ironic.  Both appear accurately descriptive to me.  

                  1. Club Twit assured me that my name isn’t ironic, whereas his/her Club 20 reference is downright hilarious. I think the defensive, downright mean comments I’ve gotten from this “community” are far more pithy than mine.

                    1. We’re pithy with you because you are not showing yourself to be worthy of much time or very many words

                    2. “pithy” because so many clever people post here. Don’t even hint at an apology, GiM. 🙂

                    3. community. to choose a username like “oblivious” and then claim you chose it out of a sense of irony, is to say that you consider yourself to be perceptive…do I have that right?

    1. The only people who look very closely at a candidate’s fundraising at this level (especially a year before the election) are the opponents and their staff. And since you have gone after Mr. Bateman in the past on this site, as well as displaying that you follow his activities closely and have information about the person he’s running against, I think it’s safe to say that you fall squarely into that category.

      I name thee, “Shill”

      1. In my experience…

        The only people who look very closely at a candidate’s fundraising at this level (especially a year before the election) are the opponents and their staff.

        I look at the campaign finance reports for all candidates in races with local interest.

        That doesn’t mean that oblivious is NOT a shill, just that other people look at campaign finance reports too.

        1. Looking back at some of my posts, I can understand why someone might see me as a shill. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a shill and a junkie.

          1. Shills repeat the same shit over and over.

            You’ve made three points: 1) you don’t like “occupy,” 2) Bateman is a candidate for office, and 3) you don’t like him much.

            Yet you have 12 posts so far in this thread.  That’s getting really close to repeating the same shit over and over and looking like a shill.

            1. I do appreciate it.

              It’s not so much Bateman, or occupying things, or Bateman occupying things with occupiers, it’s just the overall tone of his post. And I would have thought that the people who actually do like the occupiers would be the ones who would be offended by Bateman’s usurping their cause as a method of self-promotion.

              1. And I respect that.

                But in my opinion, the protesters of occupy denver would be more offended by an outsider like you speaking on their behalf.

                I know these people, I am spending a lot of time with them. And the vast majority are happy that I am helping to spread the word and tell the story.

                And right now, I am on my way to secure a bond for one of the protesters who is still in jail from Thursday morning, at the request of the occupiers.

                I understand the caution when electeds or candidates get involved with a movement like this. In fact, I have been spending a lot of time cautioning the protesters not to be too eager to embrace public figures.

                I have no interest in co-opting their movement. I am their to help defend their constitutional freedoms and to report what I see to people who cannot be there themselves.

                If you view that as “self-aggrandizing”, fine. But I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

                1. Maybe I’ve misjudged you.

                  Maybe you’re not smart enough to be using this movement to your advantage electorally. Maybe you really do genuinely believe that becoming a full-time occupier is better than being a full-time candidate. Is that the case?

  2. Shutting down the demonstration was the point of the police action, as in any self-respecting police state. Full stop.

    Proof: the park was susequently closed indefinitely. To prevent tents from catching fire? No. To prevent any more demonstrations.

  3. Now get up, dust yourselves off, and get back in the game.

    The Civil Rights movement did not win in one demonstration.  Neither did the anti-war movement.

    Anything worth doing takes time.

    1. At our age (we both survived the sixties, right?), did you ever think we’d seen anything like this again? I really didn’t, but it’s long overdue.

      Excellent advice to Andrew. And I’m planning on going to the demonstration tomorrow to get my fair share of abuse.

        1. at least twenty years past due — ’bout time.  (And, I’m old enough to be Ralphie’s much younger, and much, much better looking . . . I’m guessing, brother.)

          I’m out of the country for another week, but am looking forward to joining the fray when I return.  Keep it up.

          And, thankyou Mr. Bateman for your participation, and for taking the time to share your experiences.

          1. If so, have a ball.

            Wish I could join you guys, when you get there. I wonder if there’s an Occupy WalMart somewhere… (It may be called “Saturday Morning Shopping.”

  4. Brought my signature black and yellow signs down.  Someone dropped off three cases of water, I put a case on the wall and the CSP came running over from that silly war wagon they had to make sure the case didn’t stay there.  Incidentally, there is a law in Denver prohibiting vehicles from idling, but when you are the law, you get to make your own rules, the truck idled all day.  Another case in point the same patrolman jay walked a half a dozen times.

    I can’t imagine how much was spent today on over 30 state troopers and the CBI present but I am sure it would have gone a long way toward providing porta-potties AND a portable shower.  Why a shower?  A lot of the protestors are homeless kids and a shower would do wonders for them.  The one thing most conservatives screamed the most was, “Get a job” Oddly enough, a shower and clean clothes would go a long way toward a job prospect.  The others wouldn’t even make eye contact.  All in all the honks in support of the protest far outnumbered the Italian salutes.  The honks were very encouraging.

    Ran across an old buddy that collects drums and restores them.  We will have two bass drums and several snares to get the juices flowing.  Will need help with our signature black and yellow signs, about ten of them, one side says, “Make Levees Not War” and the other “Oil and Water Don’t Mix.”  Can’t believe how many people don’t know what a “Levee” is or why building one or anything built for the common good is better than war. I guess it depends on what you want to spend a $trillion a year on or how important it is that the super paranoid among us sleep at night.

    I wish I knew how to post a picture here, got some good ones.

  5. Really is sobering to hear what was done by police, state patrol, whoever, in our names.  They are our employees.  I heard today that there are Occupy events taking place in 1,400 cities and towns in the U.S.  Are local authorities going to attack and destroy ALL the protests?  It will only grow.

    And by the way, do we have an OccupyColoradoPols yet??

    1. I believe that this wasn’t about 99% 53% or 1%.

      If we allow anyone’s rights to be threatened, we are all at risk. If this had been a rally of billionaires, I would have been just as willing to defend their right to protest (though we all know I wouldn’t need to).

      1. I have been there at times, mostly bringing water and food. I was pretty surprised the arrests hadn’t happened before now, actually. One of the volunteers, Max Malument, told me the police had been very kind and many told her they wished they could be protesting as well. All but one, she said, was in complete solidarity with the movement. OC Denver had been told they would be forced off the property soon — I think that was Tuesday, the last time I brought down water.

        Pols readers would have been very surprised with the sophistication of the protest. There was a “kitchen” stocked with food and water (a lean-to shack, really), a collection of books on crates called “the library”, a medic area, used clothing on a line and on the ground marked “clean” or “free”, a pile of posters and signs others had left behind to be reused, etc.  It was beautiful to see what the community was doing for each other, but it was a lot of stuff, too.

        You are right — a number of the people are homeless and it made me pause to think the economy has not protected the most fragile citizens for decades — their ranks are just exploding. A few of the homeless people who have been at OC Denver are mentally ill but seemed harmless and friendly — that was obvious. It was a safe place for them, and they too want things to get better for everyone.

        I wasn’t going to mention this earlier because I didn’t want to distract from the point of the protests, but one of the people there was Rick Strandlof. We had a conversation. His appearance has changed, but I know his voice and I know his eyes. When I asked him for his name, he identified himself correctly. He is now homeless. There is no doubt in my mind after talking to him again (I have not seen him since the days he was stumping for various elected officials under his assumed name — some Rs and some Ds), he is mentally ill.

        I met two regular protesters on the left (we tend to know each other and make up a percentage of every protest). The vast majority were people I had never seen before, which really surprised me. A couple of the young people I talked to said they had been in college and have not been able to get jobs.

        The majority of the people at the OC Denver site came and went throughout the day and were definitely not camping. While there, they either held signs, ate, or rested in the tents, just long enough to go back to hold signs.  

    1. CRS 1-45-108

      Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and subject to the provisions of paragraph (b) of this subsection (7), a matter shall be considered to be a ballot issue or ballot question for the purpose of determining whether an issue committee has been formally established, thereby necessitating compliance with any disclosure and reporting requirements of this article and article XXVIII of the state constitution

      Only groups that are directly address ballot issues or questions need to file as an issue committee.

      You’re an idiot.

    1. As I said in the OP, I don’t necessarily agree with everything the movement stands for. And many of the individuals have opinions on issues that I don’t agree with at all, and would oppose in policy form.

      But this is raw speech. This is the people coming together to talk about problems and demand solutions. And we have to protect that. We have to stand up for it.  

      1. Except for a few nuts mixed in with any crowd, 95% of the people involved in this movement are saying the same thing:

        – Outraged at increasing income disparities between the rich and the poor.

        – Outraged at corporate loopholes exempting corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.

        – Outraged at policies that continue to shrink the middle class.

        – Outraged at outsourcing jobs overseas.

        – Outraged at the “don’t just do something, stand there” Congress.

        – Outraged at money in politics.

        – Outraged banks have been bailed out, yet are still foreclosing on people who have nowhere else to go.

        – Outraged that Washington doesn’t get all of the above, especially Boehner and his cast of looney tunes.

        If you don’t agree with some of these popular sentiments, Andrew, I’d be disappointed in you as a candidate. The Andrew Bateman I have known for years, and support and respect, believes exactly as these people do.  

        1. and I absolutely agree that those things are problems. However, the leaderless and democratic nature of the group means that here in Denver statements about open boarders, elimination of political parties, and drug policy are working there way into the mix, often supported by the group at large.

          So I cannot say that I am with them on everything that they stand for, even if I do agree with the core principles and complaints.  

  6. AndrewBateman wrote:

    Freedom of Speech and the Freedom to Assemble does not have a curfew. If someone wishes to protest at 3am, they have just as much right to do so as someone who protests at 3pm.

    Last time I checked you don’t necessarily have the right to go through a residential neighborhood at 3 AM spouting from a bullhorn.  

    1. See, if one person drives around with a bullhorn, that’s not occupying. But if 500 people do it, that’s freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment and anyone not supporting–and making sure the bullhorn shouters are as comfortable as possible–obviously hates the constitution.

    2. You could be cited for disturbing the peace, or violating a noise ordinance. But on public land, if you’re reasonable, you most certainly may stand with candles and chanting.

      That’s not even really a good comparison is it? It’s like an argument about people smoking weed being law breakers, just like murderers!

      The park isn’t far from residential areas, but you can’t hear what goes on there. In fact, when I lived on the hill I frequently wanted to hit club goers with a ruler while shushing, but never had an issue with an event over yonder. It’s the leaving (searching for your car, while drunk, at 3 a.m.) that’s a bear. So… fail.

      1. Last I heard they are protesting, too. And being called “fleabagger”, or some such nonsense. Because homeless people are hilarious? <–Rant not directed at Ari. Hi, Ari!

        1. Conservative humor funny! Laugh at people who are down! Scratch balls and point!

          I’m doing well, thanks, and hope your presence is a sign that you are, too?

          1. Not so for me. I pinched my fingers in a door for want of dexterity last week; this week I managed to cut myself while trying for cabbage. But like up (hard to explain). Apparently it’s step number something on a path of a certain amount of steps. What are you gonna do? I needed that cabbage salsa. The fuff is talented, but not good with knives. She shreds by chewing. I mean, I already had the freakin’ chips.

            1. Too bad you’re not still in town. I’m pretty handy with a knife and coulda benn helpful. (In the kitchen, sickos, in the kitchen ONLY.)

              I hope AR is treating you well.

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