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Denver march against police brutality interrupted by a DPD demonstration

DENVER, COLO.- Saturday’s “Every 5th” Anonymous march didn’t get two blocks along the 16th Street Mall before Denver police officers advanced into the compact procession to extract what looked to be targeted activists. Said one Anon: “One minute we were chanting ‘FUCK THE POLICE’ and the next they were fucking themselves! Our demonstration AGAINST police brutality was in solidarity with the New Mexico action #OpAlbuquerque, but became a demonstration OF police brutality. Thank you DPD!” Hundreds of downtown shoppers were drawn to the shit show, to see four dozen masked protesters menaced by a paramilitary force three times the size, ostensibly for jaywalking.

Local news outlets reported that the marchers were diverted from the pedestrian mall when their path was blocked by a dense row of police. Officers made five quick arrests, spraying pepper spray into the faces of marchers who weren’t accommodating their unprovoked, seemingly arbitrary snatch and grab maneuver.

ftp-nmt-dpd-arrestee-groundA few minutes later, with tension waning, the DPD made an odd sixth arrest, tackling an unrelated passerby who suddenly bolted from between their ranks. Whether opportune or calculated, the officers piled on this small man which provoked the crowd to close in on the action and boo. This resembled an attempt to incite obstruction, to provide a pretext for a police escalation, because the little man’s curious entrance coincided with a squad of riot cops already dismounting from the sideboards of their SUVs, in formation to march but without a situtation to warrant it. Let’s also add that the mystery arrestee was cop-shaped and was led off in a different direction than the other detainees.

There was plenty of shouting “FUCK THE DPD” but protesters didn’t take the bait, hardly resembling the riotous mob the DPD pretended them to be. Instead Denver citizens were treated to a front row DPD command performance of “SHOW ME WHAT A POLICE STATE LOOKS LIKE.”

For me, the FTP message resonates on more levels than the delightfully juvenile. The DPD show of force makes a regular cameo at every political demonstration. Often the military equipment is kept around the corner, but the oppressive presence is made felt. After DPD brutally squashed the Occupy demonstrations of 2011, even activists are deterred from joining protests in large numbers because of the eminent threat of police violence. The ever present police escorts which tail protest marches also taint demonstrators with the implication that their legal assembly verges on illegality. No matter what your issue, the police are going to stand in your way.

Though unpopular with the nonviolence zealots who consider it more effective to be non-confrontational, the FTP theme has become universal across activist disciplines, even with those one might presume were uninitiated. Obviously police violence extends well beyond the curtailment of civil liberties. Earlier on Saturday a group of Colorado Springs Anons stood before the CSPD HQ with a sign than read only “FTP”. It was complemented with posters that tempered the message for the city’s more conservative population, such as “Free the Prisons” and “Failed the People”. Yet countless passing motorists responded by rolling down their windows and pumping their fists shouting “Fuck the Police!”

More photos from Denver Anon and photog Stuart Sipkin.

Here’s the official 4/5 press release, reproduced from Pastebin:

Anonymous Police Brutality Protest/#Every5th/@AnarchoAnon

MEDIA ALERT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: anarchoanon@riseup.net / @AnarchoAnon

Denver 4/5—Police in Denver violently attacked a protest march against police brutality on the Downtown 16th street mall a few minutes after it began at 5:30 pm. 6 arrests took place, with police violently tackling individuals in the crowd and spraying pepper spray at protesters and bystanders. A witness said that several of those arrested were passers-by who were not involved in the protest. 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.

“The Albuquerque Police Department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal.” (Democracy Now)

One participant said: “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.”

UPDATE:

All 6 who were wrongfully arrested have plead not guilty and have been released on bond/PR and reported back the following:

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.

Regardless of arguments about reforming the police versus abolishing them altogether one thing the protesters are in agreement about is that DPD acts like a gang of terrorists who aren’t accountable in any way to the people they purport to Protect and Serve.

Archived livestream footage clips from march: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/anarcho-anon

Twitter handles with details from the event: @anarchoanon @standupdenver @mcsole @occupydenver @internerve

One thought on “Denver march against police brutality interrupted by a DPD demonstration

  1. Now, that’s what I’m sayin’. I got treated to the concentrated version of it repeatedly. They don’t want to be called paramilitary but that is exactly what they are. Building a police state here and spending trillions to export it world wide.

    American Fascism— you just DON’T gotta love it…

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