Tag Archives: Civic Center Park

Thousands rally in Denver against wall and Muslim Ban


DENVER, COLORADO- Thousands streamed into Civic Center Park to spend Saturday afternoon listening to speeches against President Trump’s MUSLIM BAN. Lots of families with kids so I kept my sign on the fringe pointed outward. I don’t usually favor profanity but this slogan was spotted at New York’s JFK airport last Satruday, then replicated across the country the same weekend. I spotted several at the Denver rally AND in Colorado Springs, because I think, NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKER says it best. Racism, bigotry and wanton abuse of power is obscene.

Denver Daze

Occupy Colorado Springs is and has been a relatively staid affair. Our biggest marches have drawn maybe 200 participants, and the street corner has been generally host to small crowds and mostly friendly or indifferent passers by. Visits from police have been just that–visits, rather than assaults, even when the HOTT Team came to arrest me early in the morning on 18 October, and the intrepid Camping Jack on two more recent occasions. We had to take steps to force them to make my arrest. Many of the core participants at Acacia Park have never been involved in any sort of political processes at all, let alone public protestations. So when several of our number traveled to Denver last Saturday to join a boisterous crowd of around 3,000 souls emotions were high, mixed, and complex.

There can be no denying the nervous air among one van load during the trip to Civic Center Park, directly in front of the State Capitol building, on the western side. Shana expressed open fear, bless her heart, and i suspect she wasn’t the only of our number of like mind. Fear was generally dispelled by the excitement of the much larger Denver crowd, though, and as we marched around downtown under clear blue unseasonably warm Colorado skies, past the Mint, the Federal Reserve Building, down the 16th St. Mall where city employees took an unscheduled break to let us pass and bewildered shoppers either stared aghast or waved and grinned in support, up 17th St. past all the towering bank centers, and finally mounting the steps at the Capitol Building in defiance of specific instruction from city and police. Throughout the march, spirits were exuberant as cooperative bullhorn operators traded various, sometimes conflicting perspectives while our horde danced and prated along the sidewalks and streets, and we arrived at the Capitol in high, expectant spirits.

There had been quite a lot of friendly cops along for the march, but shortly after our arrival at the Capitol the armored legion showed up and began tactical operations to expel the somewhat rowdy crowd from its perch. I was there with my 15 year old son, so we pulled back from the danger zone when the announcement was made waving off the “unarrestable.” Adin and i observed the obscure scuffling, complete with clouds of gas, from the Park as we waited for the valiant crew of absurdly comical drag queens “manning” the field kitchen to finish the “pimp-ass risotto” we later had for lunch, flavored by tear gas. The cops cleared the Capitol steps and formed a double-lined phalanx at the eastern face of the Park, at the street edge of the sidewalk directly across from the kitchen and the hastily erected camps. The kitchen crew struggled to put a specifically verboten makeshift canopy over their operation, so the police could be sure and find them.

The police blocked Broadway for several blocks and pushed protesters off the street into the Park and stayed in a threatening stance for some 6 hours or so, waiting for the appointed hour of 7:00p when they razed the camps, apparently according to specific orders. The clearing of the street was punctuated by violence , at least some of which was beyond the pale. Photographer and protest participant Andrew Cleres was ruthlessly shot down from his tree-stand while obviously not a threat. Frankie Roper of our OCS group was transported to a local hospital after taking a “non-lethal” round to the chest, though he was not arrested and refused treatment so he could rush back to the proceedings. Cops pulled back to the street after their initial assault and held a line for several hours while listening to protesters preaching various words ranging between, “We love you; you are US,” to “Fuck off and die, Pigs!” while awaiting word to move on the camps, which they did at the appointed hour, throwing tents, food, and kitchen equipment into a city trash truck.

The police surrounded the empty camping areas afterward, and maintained their line at the street for some time, continuing to endure some very angry expressions by riled protesters. Around 8:00p they abruptly and rather anticlimactically just left, allowing protesters to claim a victory, of sorts.

Though my observations to follow may well clash somewhat with some attitudes expressed during much subsequent conversation, much of what i witnessed at as close a range as could be was very encouraging indeed. Protesters were extraordinarily courageous in the face of a volatile situation. At odds with some other observers, i suggest cops exercised pretty fair restraint. Frankie and Andrew were both rather overworked in the incidents linked above. Frankie’s foot had been rolled over by the motorcycle he then knocked to the ground when the cops jumped him, and police had no way to know that when they got him. He was not arrested. Throughout the day, during which there were only 20 arrests reported, i witnessed numerous instances of very angry protesters attempting to engage police violently. These incidents were mostly handled by the crowd by their moving in to separate the overwrought form the line of cops, and the few moments where things escalated to actual physical levels were marked by a lack of brutality by police, and an apparently strong reluctance to arrest anyone. And again, after executing announced plans to raze the camps the cops simply left the scene.

Among the most exceptionally poignant vignettes of the day was the scene at the kitchen between the clearing of the Capitol steps and its ultimate destruction. The queer high antics persisted in good humor through the entirety of the very tense day, and the line of grateful hungry continued steadily within shoulder-brushing distance of the armored squads; life, joy, and loving community on display under duress. Many protesters repeated the suggestion to police that they are fully welcome to lay down armor and join us for a sandwich and a bowl of soup, and some cops actually did so, braving the incredulous stares of their fellows before rejoining the line. All day, though more so during the march while still in a conversational mood, police expressed support for us protesters, and reluctance to be antagonistic on their own. When they returned at the close of Park hours in much smaller numbers to match the dwindling of our own, remaining protesters knew to clear to the sidewalk and no further incidents took place. By then, new supplies had been delivered by random donors, and a new kitchen was already turning out coffee and chili dogs from an adjusted position at the park’s edge.

There remains aroused spirits from many of the variously positioned players in this conflict of Ideas. Many U.S. armed forces veterans are very angry indeed at police seen as traitorous after the incident with Scott Olsen in Oakland, (don’t forget to continue to hold Scott in your prayers, if you do that sort of thing); however I, for one, am encouraged by the dramatic differences between what i saw in Denver Saturday and the stuff from my childhood where police would just wade through crowds swinging nightsticks with brutal efficiency at whomever was within range. Further encouragement came from the shift in mood the following day when much of the tension between holders of opposing opinion among our OCS core appeared to simply diffuse on its own in the face of the sheer size and intensity of the action in D-town.

My take: I am immensely proud of all the Occupiers that participated, (including perhaps most especially my son Adin, who chose to stay right up in the thick of things with us all day long), and steadfastly protected those of our own motivated beyond restraint from overstepping propriety. We are ALL one. The human race makes up a group of 100%, even if some of us need to catch up with the notion. We have a long way to go, but we’re learning. This thing will continue to be lumpy and chaotic, but we’re getting there. Because we have to, no matter what.

Mother Jones at Denver Capitol steps

Mary Harris Jones in Denver
In this photograph from her autobiography, Mother Jones leads a labor protest march in the heavy snow of the winter of 1914, past the courthouse, across Civic Center Park, around the Civil War Memorial, and unto the steps of the state capitol.

2008 rally at Democratic National Convention
August 2008: the press assembles for the first rally to protest the Democratic National Convention.

August 2008 at the Denver Courthouse

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008
Spending so much time at the courthouse for the Ward Churchill v CU case, I was prompted to review these yet-unseen photos from last August’s DNC, featuring… the Denver Courthouse!

Monday morning, August 25, 2008
Peacefully assembled demonstrators are protesting the arrest and brutalization of an R-68 organizer and a Code Pink activist. Chants of “LET THEM GO, LET THEM GO” prompt this response from the police.
Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Monday afternoon, August 25, 2008 same place
Unconventional Action marchers are attempting to leave Civic Center Park, northward on Bannock. Police move in to block their way.
Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Police crowd control at the Denver DNC, August 2008

Churchill v CU Trial wraps up today

Denver Courthouse in court room sixDENVER- Can it be any easier to be a witness to history? Come to the Denver Courthouse this morning before 9 AM. It’s the large columned building opposite the state capitol. Ascend the imposing steps which rise directly from Civic Center Park. Passing the shortest security line, compared to the four ground floor entrances, take a right and go all the way down the hall. Court Room 6 is where Ward Churchill’s case against the University of Colorado will be put in the jury’s hands today.

Info about the where and how to attend the trial has been sparse, tailored to an audience familiar with Denver court battles perhaps, but do not be deterred. From the address advertised, “1437 Bannock Street,” you could envision any old judicial facility, but this is THE judicial facility, at Denver’s center, and for the last three weeks, the TV News vans give it away.

There is no court employee to answer questions outside. Go in any entrance and from there get to the second floor, and proceed to the NW end. There you’ll see media reporters huddled into a vending machine cranny converted for this occasion into a video feed center. Around the corner is room six.

If court is already in session, there will be nary a peep outside, but don’t hesitate to quietly open the door and circumnavigate the pews. If you still have a hat on, an officer seated directly right of the door will grab you as you enter and let you know to take it off.

The first row is reserved for the media, who spill over into the second row to have access to the power strip. More sit in folding chairs in the rear corners of the room, for the same reason. Laptops abound, and there’s a constant murmur of keyboards clicking. You won’t notice a lull until statements reveal something significant and the keyboardists resume in unison.

Breaks are at 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM or so, with an hour and a half for lunch at noon. Leave a coat to mark your seat, or lose it to whoever returns first. The audience seated in the westward pews have a better view of the witness stand, as from elsewhere you are impeded by the lawyers or their laptops on the podium.

The audience is a largely friendly collection. Most everyone looks like a Churchill supporter, except for the CU representatives who stick to the last SW pew, and the occasional note-taker in the middle and SE rear. The owners of Left Hand Books in Boulder have been there almost everyday, as have Professor Churchill’s family and a number of friends.

You can’t miss it. Colfax and Civic Center Park.
Denver Courthouse