DPD: Protecting, Repressing and Serving

March 5, 2012 in Press

An urgent message from the Occupy Denver Legal Committee:

Saturday February 25th, Anonymous hosts a Fuck the Police march in Denver, 5 arrests:
-Occupier Caryn Sodaro is arrested hours after the march on her way home, she is ambushed by 5 officers.  They claim she failed to appear to a court date while she was in custody serving time for a previous charge.  She is later released by a judge.  She was verbally harassed and the zipstrips were put on too tight and left on for 2 hours.
-Occupier James Stacey is arrested and bailed out 3 days later after a FTP-related bond fund was created by individuals.
-Occupier Jacob Swigert is arrested and bailed out 3 days later.  Bond was posted for him and while they were releasing him they tell him that he has to pay another $130 for another charge that they just found, so that was paid as well and he is released.
-2 other arrests, 1 was a minor (also occupying) and the other person got out of jail on their own.

Wednesday February 29th Occupy Denver hosts F29 Alec March:
Riot Police move in and arrest Caryn Sodaro as she is complying with their request to move from an empty street to the sidewalk, she is bonded out by Occupy Denver that same night.

Thursday March 1st Court hearings for James Stacey and Jacob Swigert:
A group of occupiers attend court in solidarity with James and Jacob.  Caryn Sodaro is one of the attendees and is approached by multiple officers while in court and is told that there is a restraining order against her and has to leave the court.  She waits outside until everybody else comes out.  As the group is walking away, some officers approach the group and arrest James McCollum.  They refuse to disclose why he is being arrested.  He is then taken to the detention center and put in a room in the basement with no booking or charges disclosed.  He waits there for 3 to 4 hours and is not actually booked for 10 hrs. His charges are criminal mischief and resisting arrest.  His bond is set at $5000.

Friday March 2nd Court hearing for James McCollum:
Both charges are kept but bond is dropped to $2500.

Saturday March 3rd:
(The following is a first person account from Catherine Keffer):

“I collect enough money to bail James McCollum out of jail through a bondsperson.  I finish all paperwork with the bondswoman and head to the jail to visit James McCollum along with some other occupiers around 5:30 p.m.  While waiting for our visit the bondswoman comes in to post the bond and is told that James will not be released until the morning because he has to go through “pre-trial services” before he can leave, which can’t happen til the morning.  I approach the desk and ask the officer to explain the process to me.  She says that pre-trial services workers come in around 4 a.m. to begin paperwork and that he (James) will be released between 6 and 8 a.m. We visit with James and leave, planning to return at 6 a.m.”

Sunday March 4th:
“At 6 a.m. I arrive at the detention center anticipating James McCollum’s release.  Caryn and a couple of his friends come with me to wait.  When we first walk in I ask the officer at the desk what James’ status of release is and am told that he is still in their custody and has not begun pre-trial services.
At 6:20 a.m. I check the inmate locator on the Denver.gov site and see that James McCollum is now listed as inactive.  This means that he is no longer housed in the jail facility and is either released or being processed for release.
At 8 a.m. James has still not been released so I approach the information desk and ask the officer if she can give me an update because I was told the day before that he would be out by 8 a.m.  She responds by asking who told me that he would be out by 8 a.m. and I tell her that it was the officer that was working the day before.  I am then told that he won’t be out til closer to 10.
At 10 a.m. James has still not been released so I approach the information desk again to inquire about James’ whereabouts.  I am told to go upstairs to the courtroom and find the person in charge of pre-trial services to find out a more accurate timeframe for his release.  I am able to find an employee that explains to me that the woman that is handling releases through pre-trial services went down to start releasing people 40 minutes prior. They said that he should be out anytime.  So I return to the waiting room on the main floor and explain to the female officer at the information desk what I was told and continue to wait.
At 11:50 a.m. James has still not been released and I am realizing I have been there for 6 hours and the inmate locator has showed that he is no longer housed for over 5 hours, so again I approach the  information desk.  I explain that I have been there since 6 a.m. and that I am very concerned.  I mention that their system showed him “inactive” at 6:20 a.m. and that we posted the bond over 16 hrs ago.  The officer then explains that they have done all that they can do and that it is up to pre-trial services at this point.  I argue that I have gone through this process multiple times in the past and I have never had something like this happen.  Caryn is standing next to me during this conversation and is pushed past her limit at this point.  She tells the officers behind the desk that she thinks they are lying.  We are then told to sit back down, which we do.  I didn’t argue anymore and sat down and waited.  6 officers then come out of a door and come directly to myself and Caryn.  The officers behind the information desk tell the officers that had just come out to get Caryn out of the building and she is removed.  They then ask the officers at the desk if there is anything else and they look at me and tell them to get me out too.  I then ask why, explain that I did nothing other than ask questions, and I demand to know what has happened to James McCollum.  They tell me that I have to leave and escort me out.  Once outside of the building I am told that I must leave the property and 8 or more cops assemble in a line in front of the doors.  I am called a bitch and a cunt by one of the male officers.  I am harassed, verbally abused and laughed at by all of the officers.  When I attempt to ask more questions I am cut off and told that if I don’t leave the property immediately I will be arrested.  So I was not able to get any officers names or badge numbers.  Approximately 15 minutes after I leave the property James McCollum is released.  Once he is out he explains that they never told him he was bailed out until 10-15 minutes prior to his release and that he was in general population until his release.
At approximately 2 p.m. a group of people held signs along Broadway in front of Civic Center Park.  I was not there but received a call that 10 police cars were at Civic Center Park and that Caryn had been arrested.  They came in full force and seemed to go directly for Caryn.  She was given no warning, just approached and arrested.  Her charge was obstruction of a roadway or passageway and bond was set at $100.  Josh Pearson was also arrested on the same charge as well as resisting arrest and his bond was set at $500.  There was one other arrest, a minor whom we currently know nothing about. “
While in custody Caryn has been repeatedly abused, both physically and verbally.  She has been told “kill yourself” on multiple occasions by the police.  She has been verbally attacked in direct regard to her appearance, weight and age.  She is being targeted and systematically abused by the police in Denver.  We must stand up to these unwarranted arrests and support all members of our community!!!

We believe these unjustified attacks will continue.  It seems to be no coincidence that the arrests and intimidation are happening in the 24 hours after Occupy Denver Direct Action Marches. Intimidation through fear of repercussion is a form of censorship.

What Can You Do?

Please donate if you can to the bail fund for Occupy Denver. You can earmark funds specifically for bail/legal. http://occupydenver.org/donate/ 

Josh Pearson’s court is Monday 3/5 at 8am in room 2300 of the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center. Please show up if you can to lend support and protection for our brothers and sisters.

**** Josh Pierson is being denied medical attention for an injury to his shoulder which was made worse by his arrest by the Denver Police. Please call 720-337-0200 and request that he is given a physical and medical evaluation****

Updated on March 6, 2012 to clarify that bonds posted for arrests due to the Fuck the Police march did not come from Occupy Denver funds.

Open Letter To Denver Post From An Occupier

January 31, 2012 in Press

The following is an open letter that was drafted by an Occupier as a response to the Denver Post’s coverage of the Occupy Denver Oakland Solidarity March that took place on Sunday. We are publishing it here:

Mrs. Moore, Dale, and Bunch:

As an example of the Post’s incompetence and substitution of bias for journalism, one could hardly find a better example than the article referenced. I draw your attention to two sentences from the middle of this sorry bit of reporting: “On the last leg back to Civic Center, some members shouted above the din to give the middle finger to TV cameras they expected to be waiting for them at the Capitol. No TV cameras were there, however”. Here, Mr. Bunch’s antipathy towards Occupy overwhelms his command of English: “the middle finger” is a gesture — no “members shouted above the din to give the middle finger”; that is nonsense! The insinuation in “TV cameras they expected to be waiting for them at the Capitol. No TV cameras were there, however” that Occupy are media whores is palpable, but since Bunch failed to interview any participants, the claim sticks out as uncomfortably unsupported, and the assumption that readers will buy into it and relish Occupy’s supposed failure to manipulate the media is unwarranted, has nothing to do with journalism, and is also obvious to objective readers.

The Post is able to get away with this sort of yellow journalism because it has no competition and because Coloradans are largely unacquainted with the genuine article, but consider that literate people still occasionally read your pages. The provincial and reactionary tone of articles such as this one and the poor caliber of writing employed become apparent to a wider audience than semi-literate Broncos-fans when you write about subjects of national interest such as Occupy. More to the point, you still have local readers of discernment who read the Post out of force of habit, because they hope to glean something about local news, and who are used to holding their noses while doing so, who are disinclined to climb aboard your bandwagon of disdain for Occupy — the stench of reporting such as this is penetrating, and it confirms the general understanding that Denver has one of the worst newspapers in the country.

Sincerely,
Robert D. Chase

Occupy Denver Statement On Candlelight Vigil Incident

December 23, 2011 in Press

During Tuesday’s Homelessness Vigil, some occupiers, many of them homeless, felt called to protest the hypocrisy inherent in Mayor Hancock’s attitude towards the homeless. It is ironic for Mayor Hancock to make a PR stunt at a vigil for deceased homeless less than 24 hours after violently destroying the largest homeless encampment in Denver. Mayor Hancock cannot have his cake and eat it too. Occupy Denver wants it to be clear that Mayor Hancock was not shouted down by priveleged college students or granola-munching Prius drivers, but by the very same homeless population that he claims to care about. At Occupy Denver, homeless individuals have found love, respect, food, and friendship. They found themselves embedded in a community of support and solidarity. All this was destroyed, in front of their eyes, at Mayor Hancock’s order.

That being said, this action was not officially endorsed or planned by Occupy Denver. Participants in Occupy Denver are free to express themselves as they see fit, but no occupier speaks for another. There is a wide diversity of opinion within Occupy Denver regarding this action. If you have strong feelings about this or other Occupy Denver actions, please, GET INVOLVED! The success of this movement depends on people like you bringing your unique experience, insights, and ideas to the occupation.

Occupy Denver has the utmost respect for the work of the Colorado Homeless Coalition and admires their dedication to helping the homeless. It was never the intention of those who participated in this action to disrupt the vigil. If anyone attending the vigil who has lost a loved one was upset by this action, we offer our most sincere apology. To Michael Hancock, however, we offer no such thing.

Statement on Occupy Denver’s Meeting with Chief White

December 19, 2011 in Press

The group of 10 representatives nominated and voted on by Occupy Denver’s General Assembly met with Chief White today for 45 minutes. It went as many expected. Chief White stated that the decision to forcibly evict the Occupation had already been made. Offers by Occupy Denver’s representatives to come up with creative solutions to the impasse – including a way for Occupy Denver’s residents to take charge of maintaining the park at no cost to the city – were rejected in the meeting.

It seems clear to us that the city’s actions are not really about protecting the public right of way but about the city and state government using minor municipal codes to restrict the people’s rights to assemble and protest. Chief White made clear that Occupy Denver continues to face a potential raid at any point.

We consider using the city’s scarce resources to enforce municipal code in this way to be a huge waste, something Occupy Denver has been trying to avoid. Considering the DPD’s reputation for police brutality, we feel it would be a shame for Chief White to start his relationship with the City of Denver in this way. If we are evicted, this will be the fifth time the DPD has forcibly removed the Occupation – a tactic which clearly has not been an effective resolution in the past. We urge Chief White and Mayor Hancock to reconsider their threats to evict us until they have made time and space to come together to find creative, peaceful, and constructive ways to resolve this impasse.

Considering the fact that many of the people who are participating in Occupy Denver are homeless and no safe alternative to living with Occupy Denver has been presented by the city, we question Mayor Hancock’s and the city’s commitment to addressing issues of economic inequality and human rights that the Occupy movement is protesting.

We will be holding a General Assembly tonight at 7pm in Civic Center Park to determine our response. We urge our supporters to help resist with their presence by standing in solidarity with Occupy Denver in Civic Center Park over the next few days. Help us show the residents of Denver that its citizens are not encumbrances, and that the people want to see Denver interacting with the Occupation in a more productive and cooperative manner.

Migrants March

December 16, 2011 in Event, Press, Uncategorized

This coming Saturday Dec. 17, 2011 Occupy Denver will be holding a rally and march in solidarity with immigrants across the country in celebration of National Immigrants Day. For generations, immigrants have been marginalized in our society, from the Irish and Italians in the 19th century to Central and South Americans in the 21st century. In an era where the world is interconnected, and globalization is a reality, it’s time to come together and stand in solidarity with each other no matter where we, or our parents, came from. Greedy bankers and the opportunistic 1% have preyed on immigrant communities for generations through racist predatory lending practices, marginalizing socioeconomic policies and many other atrocities ranging from corporate owned detention centers and seasonal visas to so called “free trade” agreements. Change is in the air. The time for action is now.

Occupy Denver stands in solidarity with the immigrant community. For too long the 1% has tried to divide us and blame immigrants for this country’s economic problems. Stand up and tell the bankers, CEO’s and politicians that we want equality and a chance to provide a better future for all of our children. Have your voices heard and let it be known that we will no longer sit idly by while the 1% strips us of our rights and robs us blind. United we stand.

Prior to the march we will be holding a teach-in on immigrant issues and more specifically how those issues relate to the economic disparity and injustices of this country. We will have a panel of voices from the immigrant community speaking, followed by break-out discussions. This teach-in panel will go from 11am-12:45pm on 12/17 in the Greek Amphitheater at Civic Center Park and will be followed by our weekly march.

Occupy Denver Resists Eviction.

December 16, 2011 in Press

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This past Wednesday, Occupy Denver recieved an invitation to meet with the new Chief of Police, Robert White, to discuss our relationship. The same day, we also received a warning notice from the Department of Public Works stating that they would remove all encumbrances from the sidewalks between 10am and 2 pm on Thursday. Instead of meeting on Thursday, the Denver Police Department tweeted an invitation to meet with us on Monday. Occupy Denver’s response was that the Chief come to a General Assembly. Fearing imminent eviction due to “encumbrances,” many occupiers began working through the night to “encumber” the park as a protest against the threat.

On Thursday Chief White came to Occupy Denver to ask us to remove encumbrances and to meet with him on Monday. The general opinion on the ground was that if we were evicted there would be nothing to meet about. It was still unclear after Chief White’s visit if we would be evicted, so we held the grounds. Later that day, the Denver Post released a statement that “Public Works had backed off its plans.” It is still unclear if an eviction will take place over the weekend, possibly in the dead of night, so we urge our supporters to stand with us this weekend.

This is the first time we have successfully resisted an eviction by the state, but we also must remain vigilant and keep our numbers up over the weekend to ensure the safety of our occupation. If you can’t occupy with us, feel free to drop off food, water, and winter supplies. We are also accepting cash donations & paypal donations for legal support.

Occupy Denver Just Recieved Another Eviction Notice

December 14, 2011 in Press

Today, The Department of Public Works began passing out notices to remove all “encumbrances” from the sidewalk along Broadway in front of Civic Center & Lincoln Park. The Department of Public Works claims that they will begin removing “encumbrances” at 10AM 12/15, on “Bill of Rights Day.” We call on all concerned Occupy Denver supporters to show up tonight @ 7PM to GA to determine Occupy Denver’s response.

12/10 Occupy Denver “Workers Rights” March

December 8, 2011 in Event, GA resolutions, Press, Uncategorized

Occupy Denver is theming it’s march this Saturday 12/10 around Worker’s and Union’s Rights, in order to highlight the disparity between the beleaguered majority and the Oligarchic 1%. In the United States, the average CEO has the same salary as over 750 minimum wage workers combined. [1] At Occupy Denver, we find this to be outrageous. As workers and active contributors to society, we stand in solidarity with the workers and Labor Unions of the world, and invite everyone to rally and march with us this Saturday at 12pm in Civic Center Park. We look forward to hearing everyone’s stories decrying the socioeconomic disparity in our working sector.

[1] http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/paydisparityratio.cfm

IN SOLIDARITY WITH OCCUPY PHOENIX AND ACTIONS AGAINST ALEC

November 30, 2011 in Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, 30 Nov 2011

CONTACT: Occupy Denver PR

media-pr@occupydenver.org

DENVER:

Starting today and ending on December 3rd, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is hosting a “States and Nations Policy Summit” in Scottsdale, Arizona. Many from Occupy Phoenix and around the region are expected to arrive in protest of this foul collection of legislators and corporate figures. Occupies around the nation are standing in solidarity with Occupy Phoenix against this corruption of our legislative system by private interests and money.

ALEC is a conglomerate of 2000 mostly conservative politicians and over 300 corporate figures, and is responsible for crafting over 800 prepackaged bills and resolutions behind closed doors. These templates are then passed to state legislators to adopt, with about a 20% adoption rate. This is a clear example of private interests GREATLY influencing the direction of our “legal” system and its grip on our livelihoods.

ALEC is responsible for the recently passed anti-immigration (and ultimately anti-Latino) bills passed in states like Arizona and Alabama. The enforcement of these bills are a direct attack on our Latino brothers and sisters, and enhance the surveillance and policing of Brown communities, while funneling money directly into the pockets of the Corrections Corporation America for building and managing private immigrant detention centers. Other bills created by ALEC serve to further privatize our educational system at the expense of our children, further expand the private prison system at the expense of predominately Black and Brown bodies, and restrict voting freedoms at the expense of low-income communities.

We condemn the infiltration of corporate funding of and influence on our “legal” system. It is clear that this corruption affects us all and it serves to disadvantage our freedoms. We call on protestors from Occupy Denver and around the nation to stand in solidarity with Occupy Phoenix and their actions against this perverse union between our legislators and private interests.

More information here:  http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

OCCUPY DENVER HOLDS MARCH AND RALLY ADDRESSING THE HOUSING CRISIS AND RESULTING HOUSELESSNESS

November 30, 2011 in GA resolutions, Press, Uncategorized

Foreclosures equal homelessness. End foreclosures now. Stop corrupt bankers from kicking families out of their homes.

Occupy Denver is holding a march and rally drawing attention to the ongoing housing crisis caused by the 1% and the resulting increase of homeless families here in Denver. We are asking for the 99% to join us on Saturday Dec. 3 at Civic Center Park to stand up in solidarity with victims of the housing crisis. We will be inviting families who have lost their homes in the foreclosure crisis to share their stories in an open forum starting at 11:30am before the march.

Occupy Denver is currently looking for more individuals or families who are facing foreclosure or have been been foreclosed on. We would like to make sure that you have the opportunity to share your stories and your solutions at the rally this Saturday. Occupy Denver and other Occupations around the country are going to do what we can to stop foreclosures. Please email us at general@occupy.org to make sure your story can be shared.

The “mainstream media” has been asking what has brought us into the streets (as if they don’t already know). In 2008 the housing bubble burst and the markets crashed – the depression began. Banks had bundled our mortgages into complex packages and sold them to global bankers. Once their house of cards fell, we fell out of our houses. The foreclosures began, but the arrests of those responsible never happened. It’s time to address the roots of our problems, hold those responsible accountable and lend a hand to those in need during the holiday season and beyond.

The largest growing demographic of homeless people in Denver are families. Many Denver families are facing foreclosures during the holiday season. Governor Hickenlooper has a 10 year plan to end homelessness – we can’t wait ten years. The problems we face are too enormous to wait any longer. We are taking action. Working together to build a community, taking care of those in need and standing up together for the 99%. Its time to stand up and occupy our neighbors’ yards when the banks come to take our homes. Occupy Foreclosures.

Let’s brave the cold weather together and show solidarity with those who have lost everything during this crisis. United we stand. Stand up as one and demand an end to foreclosures, let families stay in their homes this holiday season. And for those who are already without a home, let’s come together and do what we can to provide them with opportunities. We invite the public to stay after the noon march and take part in an open forum on solutions. For those interested in learning what it is like and how to live houseless there will be an Urban Camping seminar at 4p.m. If you want to be an occupier but can’t occupy 24/7, we invite you this Saturday night to come occupy Civic Center Park with us.

In addition, Occupy Denver will be participating in the Occupy Foreclosures action in coordination with Occupations across America on December 6. Stay tuned for more details.