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.