DPD waits until dark to make 5 arrests, but blunders pretext for May 5 charges
By Eric Verlo
NOT MY TRIBE - 5/08/2014 11:56AM MDT
DENVER, COLORADO- Five arrests resulted from last Monday’s Anonymous march, two on the scene and three afterward, but measures employed by combined Municipal, County and Homeland Security forces to suppress the demonstration will likely prove to undermine charges of wrongdoing. Marchers were accused of obstructing the roadway, but all vehicular traffic had already been blocked while ordinary pedestrian usage continued unhindered.
SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT was the least of the DPD’s abuses that night, whose strategies also included INTIMIDATION and direct SUPPRESSION of free speech. During the march participants faced a continuous escort of SUV-mounted riot police, who chose an arbitrary moment to dismount and assault the procession. After the march, a number of participants were met by officers as they neared their home addresses. Some were interrogated, three were arrested. At several times during the demonstration, empty city buses queued to form long barriers to obstruct passerby access to the protestors.
16th Street “Mall Ride” buses were decommissioned to inhibit public view of the march, which prevented the protest being witnessed more widely. It also gave intended commuters reason to be angry at the activists. However the action also negated any useful reason why pedestrians needed to heed a throughway for buses, the only vehicles allowed on the walking mall.
Actually the May 5th march of approximately 50 people was small enough to stick to the sidewalk and it did. Police warnings made over a loudspeaker to “get out of the street” occurred on only transitory occasions and were directed at stragglers.
On the 16th Street Mall the distinction between sidewalk and street was not always clear. On the walking mall bicycle cops used their bicycles to ram marchers in an attempted to allege that the central pedestrian area was off limits. No curbs distinguish this area from the bus lane, but the absence of buses made the distinction mute.
Just after dark, on the march’s final turn toward the state capitol, officers in riot gear suddenly dismounted and thrust into the crowd to arrest two participants they considered to have received three warnings. The action caused a stampede. Activists who didn’t scatter were pushed to the ground by the police. A half hour standoff eventually diffused, the militarized officers were withdrawn, and the tired marchers left to their dispersement area, escorted by the bicycle police.
It was not until later that participants learned of colleagues followed, swarmed in front of their apartments, interviewed, assaulted or arrested for having obstructed the path of buses that were not running.
Should the DPD be allowed to deploy the Mall-Ride buses to block a protest march, and simultaneously hold protesters responsible for getting out of their way? They want to throw cake in our face and have us to eat it too.
On May 5th, “Every 5th” activists were deprived the public audiences they were seeking, blocked from view by municipal vehicle barricades, and forbidden the public space. Neither bus-riders nor dissenters could use the public bus lane because Denver law enforcement commandeered it to squelch free speech.