Tag Archives: Denver

Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor moved, no one’s saying where

Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor moved from its offices on the 12th floor of the Wellington Webb Building. Staff for the City Attorney, who’ve moved in, are saying they don’t know where the OIM has gone. Convenient. FYI, it’s moved to the Denver Post Building, but the information desk there won’t tell you were it is either. So the bad news is that you have to know it’s there, you have to have an appointment, and you have to know who you’re seeing there before security will send someone to escort you up. Denver’s OIM recently made the news about city council renewing their commitment to its existance, but it’s becoming nearly invisible to the public it’s supposed to serve.

DIY legal strategies for defendants to give their lawyers a running start

If you’ve been arrested at a protest action you’ve got more legal options than paying the fine or taking a plea deal. Whether or not your act was constitutionally protected, or should be, or whether it was civil disobedience and was meant not to be, there are a couple good reasons to fight your charges in court. First, to draw further attention to your issue, and second, to give your prosecutors more incentive to offer a better plea deal. They might even drop your charges altogether.

Let’s assume you have the time to attend multiple court dates and that your low income means you qualify for a public defender.

Don’t have the time?
If you don’t have the time, make it. Every court appearance is a chance for a press release. Example: City Prosecutes Activists Instead of Indicting Killer Cops. Not only are you forfeiting the opportunity for more publicity, you are resigning yourself to a stiffer plea offer. Probation, or deferred judgement, or deferred prosecution for a probationary period, will take a larger chunk of your time from activism than a few court dates.

If you are eventually planing to hire a private lawyer, the same initial strategy applies. Your inconvenience is nothing compared to the wrench you’re throwing into the city’s injustice machine, by merely fighting your case.

Let’s assume also that you have bonded out of jail. Your first court appearance will be a BOND RETURN DATE. If you did not bond out and remain in custody, your first court appearance will usually be the morning after your booking and will be called an ARRAIGNMENT. Both are supervised by a magistrate before whom you will be expected to plead guilty or not guilty.

You are going to do neither.

That said, if you are still in custody, your first objective would be to hasten your release, hopefully on a PR bond. In such case, the following steps need not be uncompromising.

City Attorneys
If your event is a bond return date, you will first be called out of the courtroom by a city attorney to discuss a plea deal. Here’s where most people think they can candidly argue their case in hope that the prosecutors will decide to drop the charges. Those defendants are only giving the city more cards to deal against them. Your first move will be to DECLINE TO SPEAK TO CITY ATTORNEYS. You can ask what deal they are offering, but you say nothing about your case and admit to nothing. You are better off not even sitting down. Tell them from the hall that you have nothing to discuss, have them please bring your case before the magistrate.

The Magistrate
When the magistrate calls you up, tell him or her that you DO NOT CONSENT TO A MAGISTRATE adjudicating your case, you want the judge to which you are entitled. The magistrate will have to reschedule your court date before a judge, in the division to which your case was assigned. This might be one or two weeks later.

Bond Return Date, Round Two
Your second date, this time titled an “Arraignment” will be another chance for the city attorneys to pretend they have a right to interview you. Again you brush them off. When you’re finally called before the judge, he or she will ask you what you plead. Say that you CANNOT PLEAD BEFORE CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY. Asked if you have an attorney, say no, you require a public defender.

The judge will tell you a public defender will only be assigned after you’ve entered a not-guilty plea. Stand your ground, ask how are you supposed to make a legal decision without the advice of the public defender? The judge will decide to enter a not-guilty plea on your behalf, to which you will OBJECT.

A plea made over your objection will be a potential element of a future appeal. Likewise was the attempt by city attorneys to pretend they had authority to discuss your case without your having an attorney present. These will be two factors that will give you leverage in negotiating a better plea offer.

The judge will ask if you want a jury trial, to which you will answer YES. You’ll be assigned a pretrial conference date, or reset date, and a trial date. Your next task will be to apply for a public defender.

Representation
If you make too much money to qualify for a public defender, you might want to hire a lawyer, or find one who is sympathetic to your cause who can represent you Pro Bono. If you are smart enough on your feet, you can represent yourself PRO SE.

One possible advantage to proceeding Pro Se is that the city might eventually drop the charges, calculating that if you couldn’t find an attorney to defend your criminal case, you are unlikely to find one to bring a civil suit against the city for false arrest. They risk little to drop your case instead of spending an awkward day in court trouncing a DIY defendant in front of a sympathetic jury of his peers.

If your application for a public defender is accepted, they’ll also waive the $25 jury fee. If you can’t apply for the public defender within 30 days of your forced not-guilty plea, you should file the jury trial request yourself and pay for it.

No not under any circumstance elect a trial by judge. Denfense lawyers call that a “slow motion guilty plea.” You’ll soon learn that judges work for the same side as the prosecutors. So do the public defenders, but they can serve your purpose for the time being.

In a future article I’ll discuss what to do with public defenders.

UPDATE: Deaf blind judge gives Shadoe Garner 75 DAYS JAIL for possession of Wicca ritual athame and for littering.


DENVER, COLORADO- Shadoe Garner was found guilty today by a judge who didn’t blink at the public defender having no time to prepare, at discovery evidence not being provided to defense, at prosecutors withholding half their witnesses and videos (depriving the defense of knowing what might have be exculpable evidence), at being forwarned that a 35C Appeal was virtually guaranteed, and despite two police videos making very clear that Shadoe’s rights were violated, if only the judge had ears and eyes to see it.

The courtroom staff should have seen trouble brewing earlier in the morning when an attorney announced “the court will call Emanuel Wilson” and the old judge replied “I’m sorry, did you say Javier Lopez?” Uh, no.

Judge Frederick Rogers is a dead ringer for filmmaker John Huston, with none of the latter’s sense of humor. He tried a case before Shadoe’s, a young black vet with PTSD who was awarded a large settlement for a traumatic brain injury and who went off on his lawyers for witholding the award in a conservatorship. The judge found him guilty of making threats, however exaggerated, giving no allowances for his mental disability.

In Shadow’s case, Judge Rogers denied all motions to wave speedy trial, and declared he wouldn’t suppress the prosecution’s evidence based on the defense not having seen it. The judge wanted to see it presented first so he could assess its worth to the charges before considering suppression. Essentially, motion quashed.

The evidence wound up supporting Shadoe’s claims, that he identified himself, that he had served papers on Commander Tony Lopez, not littered, and that the “weapon” he carried was a religious talisman, if also a knife.

“My name is Shadoe Garner”
Three times on the video Shadoe Garner told officers his name when asked, both first name and last. He even provided his date of birth. From that the officers could have run a check on his identity without having to take him into custody for not having an ID. The officers even testified that they heard Shadoe say all that. But the judge only heard the defendant say “Shadows” and so felt the defendant was being evasive. Officers can even be heard on the video using Shadoe’s name as they talked to him!

Instead of cross-checking his info in their system, the officers took Shadoe from the crowd and that operation required a pat down. Before doing that, Officer Montathong asked Shadoe, “do you have a weapon or anything that could poke me?”

Weapon vs. Athame
“Yes” Shadoe replied, I have an Athame” and he gestured to his left thigh. The officers retrieved what they alerted each other was a knife. Shadow countered “It’s not a knife, it’s an athame, a ceremonial object.” He repeated that explanation several times on the video.

It might be relevant to point out that Shadoe was wearing his robe, a distinct purple garment which officers would recognize over and over on the 16th Street Mall or at Stoner Hill, where the Dirty Kids live.

Shadow thinks of himself as a Wiccan druid, and the ceremonial dagger he refers to as an athame is as ritualistic as his robe. Shadoe told me he had ground-scored the robe weeks before. It’s a hooded cape that can only be described as a theatrical vestment.

The “knife” too was theatrical. The prosecutor constantly pointed out that its length was longer twelve inches, much too long for a pocket knife. It’s length was more like a kitchen knife or, more obviously, a SWORD.

The weapon pulled from a sheath strapped to Shadoe’s leg was a 12″ bowie knife manufactured by “Force Recon”. Sargent Martinez recognized it from his Marine days as a military combat weapon.

The First Amendment isn’t a pass to COSPLAY in urban environments, but a homeless person doesn’t have much choice about what possessions they can leave at home and which they have to carry.

Both Sargent Martinez and Officer Montathong said Shadoe was wearing a trench coat, even though the videos depicted the robe clearly. What trench coat has a hood? The officers stuck to their story because it’s regulation they say to suspect protesters wearing trench coats. Officer Montathong said protesters “always hide pee containers under their trench coats to throw at police.”

I’ll note here the officers removed Shadoe from the protest because they felt unsafe in the crowd. Sargent Martinez was calling the shots that day and testified the crowd numbered “five to six” peaceful, seated, protesters. Though the police numbered twenty, Martinez didn’t feel safe. For backup Commander Lopez called in Metro SWAT too.

“I am a process server”
Shadow repeated multiple times that he was a “process server”. No one questioned the officers whether it was customary to charge process servers with littering.

Shadow was arrested for littering because he served Commander Tony Lopez with an 11-page notice of a federal lawsuit. Lopez refused to take the document so Shadoe thrust it at his chest and it bounced to the sidewalk. “Cite him for littering” barked Lopez. Officers gave Shadoe a chance to pick up his “trash” or be ticketed for littering. Shadoe replied that he couldn’t retreive the papers, they now belonged to Lopez. Lopez had been officially served, documented by a witness video. If Shadoe took back the papers the transaction would be undone. As he explained this, Shadoe cast aside a cigarette butt. “Pick that up” ordered the officers, “or you’ll be cited for littering.” Shadoe dutifully bent and retrieved the cigarette butt. He wasn’t about to be given a ticket for littering.

He didn’t have an ID. Like many homeless, he’d lost it in a previous interaction with DPD. The police confiscate IDs from Denver homeless, probably as a deterrant to further contact. But Shadoe gave his name when asked, even though the police inquiry was unwarranted.

Appeal
The next step will be for Shadoe to appeal, but he’s got to do it from jail. The public defender’s office has to meet with Shadoe before the deadline expires and that’s not a likely priority for them. His next hearing is August 22 in District Court, division 5G. Shadoe is charged with felony weapons possession on account of a second offense, his persisting in carrying a ceremonial athame.

Shadoe’s single request to Judge Rogers, as the judge considered his sentencing, was to ask that the weapon not be destroyed, as called for by Denver ordinance. The city objected but the judge ruled that the evidence was required for Shadoe’s appeal. By his plea, Shadoe demonstrated that the evidence means more to him than a mere knife.

Shadoe has a very good case. The DPD abused his Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure. There’s the First Amendment right to his religion practices. And there’s the right to effective counsel which Shadoe was denied.

Judge Rogers has made a lot of work for the courts above him. Who knows how many other defendants are going to be jailed before judicial superiors figure out that Rogers has got to go.

Shadoe Garner jailed because Denver police fear the homeless Dirty Kids.

DENVER, COLORADO- Credit Shadoe Garner and his fellow Dirty Kids for Denver’s current police crackdown on the downtown homeless. Credit might not be the word you choose, because the consequences have been disastrous for those living and panhandling on the street, but the homeless teens known by their community as the “dirty kids” were the first to stand up against the abuse. They refused to abide being commanded to stand when they needed to sit, or make themselves scarce on public property.

In May 2016 a dozen were arrested defying Denver’s sit-lie ordinance, to test the law’s constitutionality, but DPD found other infractions with which to charge them. Shadoe was jailed for possession of an illegal weapon, but the pretext for taking him in was even more contrived.

As a Wiccan druid, Shadoe carries a ritual dagger called an Athame. He wasn’t threateding anyone with it, but a second stop and frisk revealed a repeat offense, so now Shadoe’s bond is set at $10,000, beyond what any homeless person can raise. The pretext for Shadoe Garner’s arrest wasn’t the weapon, but a charge of LITTERING.

On the third day of their sit-in protest at the 16th Street Mall, Shadoe was trying to serve District Six Commander Tony Lopez with notice of a federal suit being filed against the DPD by 27 homeless complainants, for their continued harassment downtown. Though Garner informed Lopez that he was a contracted process server, Commander Lopez refused to take the 11 page document. When Shadoe dropped it at his feet, Commander Lopez gave the order to have Shadoe arrested.

Shadoe appears in court on Thursday, August 11, in division 3F of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse. Shadoe will be brought into the courtroom in shackles and will likely be represented only by a public defender.

Police State Appreciation Day protested for obvious reasons #BlueLivesMurder


DENVER, COLORADO- The July 17 Law Enforcement Appreciation Day festivities could barely be heard above the din of bullhorns blasting Denver police for being the second most murderous in the nation. TV reporters hoped to record Occupy Denver’s enthousiasm for that morning’s killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge by disturbed Marine Corps veteran Gavin Long. Law enforcement claimed to be investigating what drew the Micah Johnson second act to Baton Rouge, though their public execution of African American Alton Sterling might be the place to start. Denver attendees didn’t have a clue why ordinary citizens would want to be so disrespectful of their relatives in blue. Blue lives matter, they shouted. Yeah? Blue Lives Murder was the response.

BREAKING: Denver judge rules DPD “Shadow Officers” will be compelled to testify in Guy Fawkes protest case


DENVER, COLORADO- Judge Theresa Spahn ruled this morning that Commander Fountain of DPD Intelligence, and “Shadow Team” Lieutenants Mitchell and Jimenez, will be compelled to testify in the case of Selayna Bechtold, a 19-yr-old arrested at last November’s Guy Fawkes Day march. Selayna was accused of obstructing the roadway and was among nine jailed that night, out of one hundred who marched. Curiously, a document accidentally released into one of the defendant’s discovery evidence revealed that 27 of those 100 were “shadow officers”. That march was 27% cop. From a leaked DPD crowd management manual we know that undercover shadow teams assist the arrest teams by pointing out “persons of interest”. What Cmdr Fountain and his men can testify to is how the undercovers pretend to be protesters. Do they take the streets? Do they pretend to assault policemen? Do they ingratiate themselves with real protesters by encouraging or leading in acts of unlawfulness? The city lawyers lost their bid to quash the subpoena motion of the intelligence and shadow personnel, but they will probably keep resisting defense efforts to shine the light on Denver’s heavy handed suppression of public protest. Even funnier: have them watch surveillance footage of the march and ask them to identify those seen misbehaving. Which are protesters and which are cops? If neither side know, there’s a 27% chance they are cops!
 
UPDATE: This afternoon, after the jury was seated and after opening arguments were made, the city lawyers told the judge they finally had the chance to review the defense evidence, which included a video of Selayna being jumped from behind, dragged across the street, tugged this way and that until eventually piled upon by riot officers. Based on that video, the city no longer wished to proceed. That video had been posted to Facebook within minutes of Selayna’s arrest November 5th of last year. It’s remained online for nine months. Count me among activists who thought the authorities scrutinized social media more closely. Was this the reason or did higherups spend lunchtime discussing what shadow officers were going to reveal? The testimony of shadow officers will have to wait until the next pending tials, five remain and all the defense lawyers have now motioned to subpoena these gentlemen. Selayna’s courtroom by the way was filled with Denver city attorneys preparing for those upcoming cases…

The Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse Plaza protest timeline (July 2015 – present)


UPDATED: This is a timeline of the legal battle which began in July 2015 over activists’s right to protest in the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse Plaza. It explains why activists with Occupy Denver did not believe they were being given lawful orders when commanded to stop and why activists still believe the DPD were wrong to make their arrests. The city’s charges of “encumbrance” and “obstruction” appeared calculated to circumvent a federal injunction protecting the public’s First Amendment rights.

July 27, 2015
Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt distribute jury nullification literature at Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse (LFC) plaza. Mark Iannicelli is arrested and jailed for two days, charged with seven felony counts of jury tampering. #15CR03981 (charges dismissed 12/16 by Judge Plotz).

Aug 7
Warrant is issued for arrest of Eric Brandt for same incident, same charges. Eric Brandt is arrested and jailed #15CR04212 (charges dismissed 12/16).

Aug 14
Colorado 2nd Judicial District Chief Judge Michael A. Martinez issues order CJO-1 barring protest, including structures, in LFC plaza. (The Chief Judge later explained that his motivation was to preempt racial unrest on occasion of potential death sentence being given to African American Dexter Lewis, so soon after Aurora Theater Shooter James Holmes, who is white, had been spared the death penalty.)

Aug 17
Through attorney David Lane of Kilmer, Lane & Newman, plaintiffs Eric Verlo, Janet Matzen & Fully Informed Jury Association file complaint for federal injunction protection against continued arrest of jury nullification pamphleteers in LFC plaza

Aug 19
Having become apprized of CJO-1 posted at courthouse, Verlo et al file amended complaint to include a challenge of the “plaza order”. US District Court Judge William J. Martinez grants an injunction hearing for August 21.

Aug 21
1. An AMENDED CJO-1 is posted to courthouse entrance. Colorado Chief Judge Martinez amends PLAZA ORDER prohibitions to apply only to “highlighted area”, not entire plaza.

2. US Judge Martinez hears oral arguments on federal injunction. LFC plaza is stipulated to be not just a “designated” free speech zone but a “traditional” free speech zone.

Aug 25
US District Judge William Martinez grants preliminary injunction, strikes first paragraph from amended plaza order. He rules the prohibitions in the highlighted area cannot limit non-amplified speech, the accosting of passersby, or the distribution of literature.

Aug 26   FOUR ARRESTS
8am: New REDACTED amended CJO-1 [Plaza Order] is posted on glass door of Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse. Occupy Denver activists initiate an all-day protest to distribute FIJA fliers.

10am: Protesters erect a popup canopy which is immediately confiscated by DPD citing activist lack of permit. Other materials confiscated include table, chairs, drums, banners, signs and jury nullification brochures. However there are no arrests or citations.

1pm: City Attorney Wendy Shea agrees to have DPD return confiscated property. DPD equivocates (for two days), citing lack of a specific person to whom property should be released.

3pm: Plaintiffs Verlo et al file motion to hold DPD in contempt of federal injunction for the confiscations. (DPD was later found not to be in contempt because evidence was not conclusive that literature had been confiscated.)

9pm: Occupy Denver erects three tents. DPD and SWAT seize the tents. Four protesters arrested for “obstruction”: William Hall #15GS012195 (took a plea deal: probation and area restriction), Adrian Brown #15GS012196 (trial 3/8, not guilty obstruction & failure to obey, guilty interference, 20 days jail, on appeal), Fred Hendrich #15GS012197 (case dismissed 6/13), Eric Verlo #15GS012198 (trial 1/11, guilty obstruction & interference, 20 days jail, on appeal)

10pm: Remaining protesters stay overnight in sleeping bags awaiting release of arrestees. (Thus begins a 24-hour protest which continues for 56 days.)

Aug 28     ONE CITATION, TWO ARRESTS
4pm: After further calls to city attorney, the canopy is reclaimed from DPD property, and is erected immediately. DPD confiscates it as “encumbrance”. Citation is issued for dog off-leash to Caryn Sorado #15GV552914 (dismissed 11/24 via plea deal)

7pm: Immediately after his delayed release from jail, Adrian “Monk” Brown erects a tent. Within half hour, while walking his dog at South end of plaza, Brown is arrested by DPD and tent is confiscated. #15GS012303 (trial 11/16 w Rodarte, jury finds Brown NOT GUILTY)

8pm: Eric Brandt protests Brown’s arrest, chases DPD Commander Lopez car, arrested. #15GS012304 (trial 8/24 w Spahn)

Sept 1
8am: Hearing before US judge Martinez to hold DPD in contempt. Paying a visit to the Denver Department of Pubic Works, activist learn that there is no permit required for “free speech activity” and furthermore the department does not have jurisdiction over the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse plaza.

4pm: Activists erect three empty tents marked with bold letters “JURY NULLIFICATION TENTS”. At 6pm, DPD arrives in force to confiscate the three tents, and pass out paper notices [Encumbrance Notice] which read:

“!!Notice!! It is illegal to place ANY encumbrance on the public right of way. An encumbrance is defined as “any article, vehicle or thing whatsoever” which is on “any street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or other public way or place.” D.R.M.C. § 49-246 et. seq. The manager of Public Works may order all encumbrances in the public right-of-way to be removed. The failure to remove items so ordered is a criminal offense; the maximum possible penalty for which is up to one year in the county jail and/or up to $999 fine. PLEASE REMOVE ALL PERSONAL ITEMS FROM THIS AREA. If personal items are not removed immediately, you may be subject to an order of removal at which time all items will be subject to removal by the Denver Police Department. Agency – Denver Police Department”

The Denver ordinance cited above reads:

“§ 49-246. The manager of public works or the manager’s designee (hereinafter in this article, “manager”) is authorized to remove or to order the removal of any article, vehicle or thing whatsoever encumbering any street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or other public way or place (any such thing hereinafter in this article to be called an “encumbrance”). The manager may prescribe appropriate methods, specifications, placement and materials for encumbrances in the public right-of-way.”

Sept 3
US District Court Judge William Martinez rules DPD is not in contempt because evidence was not conclusive that literature had been confiscated. (Note: plaintiff’s order to show cause was filed on 8/26 before that evening’s arrests.)

Sept 7
In the LFC Plaza, city workers install steel signs in center of plaza which read: “NOTICE In reference to DRMC Sec. 49-246 this plaza must remain free from all encumbrances/obstructions – Denver Public Works”

Sept 8
4:30pm: DPD conducts sixth raid on protest, confiscating everything that can’t be gathered and held by activists.

Sept 11
Night raid, to avoid arrest everyone must stand and gather personal items as if to leave.

Sept 12
DPD Night raid. Everyone made to stand, no arrests.

plaza-handcuffs-timothy-campbell-nmt

Sept 13
Night raid, stop and frisk of Timothy Campbell because he “looked threatening” to an HSS security guard. Campbell is handcuffed but released. Michael Moore is issued a citation for having his dog Lizzie off leash #15GS013171 (1/5 plea deal, six month probation).

Sept 14
DPD confiscates “encumbrances”: chairs, flags, banners, toilet paper

Sept 15
While Michael Moore is loudly protesting at doors of jail about delayed release of Eric Brandt, jail deputies assault Moore and attempt to take him into custody. DPD arrives and delivers Moore to Detox. No arrests.

Sept 16   ONE ARREST
Surveillance operator observes Jose “Pedro” Trejo urinating in public. DPD force arrives, Pedro arrested #15GS013298 (Plea deal, time served, $50 fine).

Sept 17
1am night raid makes 12th raid. DPD threaten arrest for “violation of urban camping ban”

Sept 18   FOUR ARRESTS
While activists are celebrating 4th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, DPD evict assembly citing encumbrances, arrest Eric Brandt #15GS013512 (trial 8/29 w Spahn) and confiscate majority of protest equipment and personal property, warn others to leave and face arrest upon return. Activists return and DPD arrest three more: Adrian Brown #15GS013537 (dismissed 3/18), Jay Maxwell #15GS013517 (plea deal, year probation), and Timothy Campbell who is tackled and charged with assault #15CR05088 (jailed 4 days, charges dropped 9/22).

Via their attorney, plaintiffs Verlo et al receive Spoliation Letter to preserve all correspondence, media, eg. evidence of activities in plaza, from August 2015 onward.

Sept 19   ONE ARREST
2:38am: Later that night, Mark Iannicelli is arrested for not removing his chair from plaza #15GS013527 (District court considering motion to dismiss)

Sept 24   THREE ARRESTS
Possible police agent sent into camp to provoke fight. Arrest of Adrian Brown #15M08835 (charges dropped) and Matthew Lentz #15CR05197 (jailed 5 days, charges dropped 9/28). Brandt arrested for interference #15GS013823 (6/13 trial ended in hung jury. Retrial is 8/1 w Faragher).

Sept 25
Adrian Brown files motion for expanded discovery on 8/26 tent arrest case (#15GS012196). Sept 25 is before the 30 day period after which HALO camera footage is regularly overwritten. (Other 8/26 defendants will be told their discovery motions were filed too late to prevent destruction of HALO surveillance video. Although all motions were similarly worded and requested the identical evening’s footage at Brown.)

City challenges temporary injunction with US Court of Appeals.

4pm: CURFEW notice posted by City workers who install eight steel signs on periphery of plaza declaring a curfew. Signs read:

“NOTICE The grounds of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse and the Denver Detention Center are closed to the public from 8:30PM until 7:30AM. Except to conduct official business within tne facilities. Violators are subject to citation or arrest pursuant to D.R.M.C 38-115”

7:25pm: Activist are driven off the plaza by DPD. Protest continues overnight on sidewalk along Colfax Ave. DPD conduct night raid forcing everyone to stand and gather sleeping bags as usual.

Sept 26
Protest relocates across Colfax Ave to triangle shaped park on Northwest corner of Tremont and Colfax.

Sept 28?
After an activist discussion of an alternative fallback location being the plaza in front of the Wellington Webb Building, we discover curfew signs have now been posted there too.

Sep 30
City of Denver files motion to dismiss injunction.

Oct 6   ONE ARREST
Possible infiltrator disrupts camp by stealing property. She is ousted by Caryn Sodaro but later files a complaint in municipal court seeking a protection order against Sodaro. Warrant is issued for Sodaro’s arrest #15GS014734 (11/18 plea deal, 150 days jail).

Oct 9
Plaintiff files response to motion to dismiss.

Oct 16
Reply brief by plaintiffs

Oct 21   ONE ARREST
On first day of rain since plaza protest began, DPD effects full eviction of COLFAX CAMP. Confiscates personal property and protest materials. Hauls much of it in a garbage truck. Eric Brandt is arrested for obstruction and interference #15GS015407 (trial 9/7 w Spahn)

Oct 26
Reply from plaintiffs.

Nov 12
Reply in support of defense

Nov 16
Jury finds Monk Brown no guilty of 8/28 obstruction. Judge Nicole Rodarte in 3G. Deputy city attorney prosecuted the case.

Nov 17
Oral arguments to court of appeals, courtroom III

Dec 16
Denver District Court Judge Kenneth Plotz dismisses Jury Tampering charges against Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt (city does not appeal).

Jan 11
8/26 tent arrestee Eric Verlo found guilty of obstruction and interference, 20 days jail. Represented by public defender. On appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Jan 13
City makes first request for plaintiffs to show documents to defendants, as per spoliation letter. (Meanwhile activist defendants have received discovery motion responses that surveillance video is overwritten and all of city correspondence is privileged.)

Feb 1
Plaintiffs Verlo et al are informed that US District Judge William Martinez wishes to hold a full trial to consider a permanent injunction. Depositions will be recorded on Feb 12.

March 8
8/26 tent arrestee Monk Brown found not guilty of obstruction and failure to obey, but guilty on interference, sentenced to 20 days jail, on appeal based in inconsistent verdict.

March 16
Mark Iannicelli arrested again distributing JN fliers #16GS003320. He’s detained and cited for harassment and violation of CJO-1. Released within hours, charges dropped are 3/18.

May 2
Verlo et al file motion to show cause why former Denver defendants should not be held in contempt of court for the March 16 arrest of Mark Iannicelli. Filing was delayed because city refused to produce discovery evidence. Plaintiffs had to file a CORA request to learn facts of Iannicelli’s arrest.

May 11
Deposition of Chief Justice Michael Martinez

May 31
Order received from Federal Judge William Martinez:

ORDER: Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Former Denver Defendants Should Not Be Held in Contempt of Court [108]. Per D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(d) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(d), the Denver Defendants’ deadline to respond was May 26, 2016. Denver filed nothing on that date, and has since filed nothing. Accordingly, the Court could deem the motion confessed. Solely in the interests of justice, however, Denver is ORDERED to file a response on or before June 3, 2016. No reply will be accepted without prior order or leave of Court. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 05/31/2016.

June 1
Motion to dismiss 8/28 chair arrest of Mark Iannicelli moves case to district court. Dismissal expected.

June 3
City responds to motion to show cause.

June 13
Fred Henrich 8/26 tent case dismissed.

June 20
Federal judge William Martinez responds:

ORDER: Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Former Denver Defendants Should Not Be Held in Contempt of Court [108]. Given the nature of the alleged violation of this Court’s preliminary injunction, and given the lack of evidence that the alleged violation presents an ongoing problem, the Court sees no pressing reason to address potential contempt at this time. Plaintiffs are therefore DIRECTED to file a notice, no later than June 24, 2016, explaining why the Court should give priority to their motion. Otherwise, the Court intends to set this matter for a hearing immediately following the bench trial scheduled to begin on April 17, 2017 between Plaintiffs and the Second Judicial District. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 06/20/2016.

June 22
Jury trial for Eric Brandt’s 9/24 interference arrest results in hung jury. Retrial scheduled for 8/1 w Judge Faragher.

—-

NOTES:
A. List of 2015-16 plaza arrests (20) & citations (2)

No. Name: Date: Offense: Result:
1. Mark Iannicelli 7/27 (jury tampering) DISMISSED 12/16
2. Eric Brandt 7/27 (jury tampering) DISMISSED 12/16
3. William “Reno” Hall 8/26 TENT (obstr.) PLEA, prob., area restriction
4. Adrian “Monk” Brown 8/26 TENT (obstruction) NOT GUILTY obstruct & failure, GUILTY interference
5. Fred Hendrich 8/26 TENT (obstruction, interference, failure to obey) DISMISSED 6/13
6. Eric Verlo 8/26 TENT (obstruction, interference) GUILTY, 20 days jail, on appeal
7. Caryn Sodaro 8/28 (DOG citation) PLEA deal
8. Adrian “Monk” Brown 8/28 TENT (obstruction) NOT GUILTY 11/17
9. Eric Brandt 8/28 (failure to obey) ***trial 8/24
10. Michael Moore 9/13 (DOG citation) PLEA deal
11. Jose “Pedro” Trejo 9/16 (urinating in public) PLEA deal
12. Eric Brandt 9/18 TARP (obstruction) ***trial 8/29
13. Jay Maxwell 9/18 HANDCART (obstruction) PLEA deal
14. Adrian “Monk” Brown 9/18 A COOLER (obstr) DISMISSED 3/8
15. Tim Campbell 9/18 (assault/resisting) DROPPED
16. Mark Iannicelli 9/19 CHAIR (obstruction) to be dismissed
17. Matthew Lentz 9/24 (assault) DROPPED
18. Adrian “Monk” Brown 9/24 (assault) DROPPED
19. Eric Brandt 9/24 (interference) ***hung jury, retrial 8/1
20. Caryn Sodaro 10/6 (disturb, threats) PLEA deal, 150 days concurrent
21. Eric Brandt 10/21 WET PILE (obstruction) ***trial 9/7
22. Mark Iannicelli 3/16/2016 (harassment, violation of CJO-1) DISMISSED

B. Running tally:
Cases dropped or dismissed: 9
Not guilty verdict, obstruction: 2
Guilty verdict, interference: 1
Guilty verdict, obstruction & interference: 1
Plea deals: 6
Cases outstanding: 4

3. Trials still scheduled:
August 1, Eric Brandt (9/24 interloper interference), RETRIAL, LFC 3H
August 24, Eric Brandt (8/28 Lopez failure to obey), jury trial, LFC 3F
August 29, Eric Brandt (9/18 tarp obstruction), jury trial, LFC 3F
September 7, Eric Brandt (10/21 Tremont obstruct.), jury trial, LFC 3F
April 17-19, 2017, Verlo v Martinez, permanent injunction, Araj Federal Courthouse Rm A801

Hillary may be the presumptive head of the US empire but Trump is its asshole

Billionaire reality TV villain Donald Trump is bringing his presidential candidacy roadshow to Denver JULY 1ST. Like the rhetoric of the Westboro Baptist Church, Trump’s utterances don’t warrant rebuttal. But unlike the lone Fred Phelps family espousing their gutteral homophobia, The Donald has followers. Some see Trump as an underdog challenging the empire’s vetted candidate. Some may be provocateurs staining his campaign with violence. What is certain however is that popular enthusiasm for Trump echoes his hate speech and dumbfuckery. If zenophobic bigotry congeals into a white power movement, that’s the specter of fascism that begs a swift preemptive beatdown. Trump can tramp his celebration of brute ignorance wherever he wants, it’s a free country, but local communities need not welcome his fan base aping the white thug’s antisocial behavior.
 
Friday July 1. Western Conservative Summit, Colorado Conventional Center, Denver. Be there!

Denver homeless kids are reclaiming their RIGHT to SIT on 16th Street Mall


DENVER, COLORADO- Denver street kids are standing up against DPD harrassment, SITTING DOWN. It isn’t orchestrated, it’s barely organized, a CBS affiliate covered the first arrests, but since last Wednesday, these homeless activists have been defying riot cops and orders to disperse, suffering several citations and arrests every day. As of Tuesday AM, two arrestees remain jailed, one of them bonded with a condition of area restriction preventing him from rejoining the protest.

Mark Iannicelli Denver Revolutionary

Mark Iannicelli
The heart and soul of any revolution is found in the people who find the courage to stand up to the power of the state and cry out for justice. Such a man is Mark Iannicelli. Mark’s crime is to quietly and consistently inform the citizens of their rights. For this the state have brought the full force and power of their kangaroo courts with the aid of the Denver puppet police. Mark must be silenced, the status quo must be maintained.

Mark has been at the center of this revolution, a genteel giant who has faced the wrath of the courts and police with courage. Now comes May 31, 2016 when once again the state with all of the taxpayers resources will prosecute in their efforts to silence him with jail. The trial will be held in the Lindsay-Flanigan Courthouse.
Mark’s champion, a 90 pound woman, with the heart and courage of a lion, defense attorney, Katayoun Donnelly, will face off with the state in his defense.

I can think of no greater gesture to Mark, then for each of us to attend Mark’s trial and stand in solitary to say; We will not be silenced.

Third Guy Fawkes Day case dismissed as Denver continues to arrest marchers

DENVER, COLO.- Last night Denver police mobbed a demonstration protesting the officer-involved execution of unarmed suspect Dion Avila Damon in front of his wife and child. At the end of Tuesday’s march, Robin Hamm and Nathan Stickel were arrested for obstruction, failure to obey, and destruction of private property. They were still in custody when fellow activist, Joaquin dela Torre-McNeil, arrested at an identically uneventful march last November, showed up for his court date today only to hear the city motion to dismiss his case. Joaquin was charged with interference and resisting arrest, both accusations without merit. This morning the city admitted as much.

This marks the third of nine arrests made November 5, 2015 which have been dismissed. Peter Lewis, 31, was snagged as an obstructee, then detained on a possessions charge until all charges were dropped November 20. Brandon Deaton, 24, was charged with obstruction. He was represented by attorney Frank Ingham and his case was dismissed March 23.

Joaquin’s dismissal bodes well for the remaining six cases, which are equally unfounded.

Four are charged with interference and obstruction, plus the odd sundry misdemeanor: David Croisant, 29, is represented by attorney Birk Baumgardner; Selayna Bechtold, 19, is represented by Venkatesh Iyer; Mark Iannicelli, 58, is represented by Katayoun Donnelly; and Justin Berding, 25, is represented by Cheri Deatsch.

Two are charged with felonies: Damian Stasek, 25, represented by attorney Lon Heymann; and Jake Pauly, 25. Both are charged with assault of a peace officer, which happens whenever physical contact is not initiated by the police, although in both cases this was a technicality.

Bumping into police officers is going to happen if they get in your way, especially when they have no right to get in your way, given that your first amendment right was the reason they were supposed to stay out of your way. If there’s no obstruction, there’s no interference, and your collision with their obstruction of your civil liberties is not assault.

The November 5th march was uneventful except for the arrests. There was neither property damaged, traffic impeded, nor lives endangered. The police acted purely to intimidate and squelch protest. They succeeded but now the courts are not supporting their actions. As charges fall, the accusations lose veracity. Certainly the crowd’s anger at their demonstration being curtailed with such heavy-handedness is being shown to having been legitimate. You can’t arrest people for objecting to your unlawful conduct.

But DPD hasn’t been taught that lesson yet. Last night’s march for DPD victim Dion Avila Damon was equally harmless. Arrests were made for the usual show of force. Two activists remain in custody. The bureaucratic delay is now excused as a 24-hour processing requirement for fingerprints to clear the system. Only then will bonds be calculated and allowed to be posted. Detainees will then wait a minimum of five further hours to be released. When last night’s charges are dismissed, Denver will have to account for two more wrongful imprisonment cases.

Denver Homeless Out Loudest Ray Lyall


Here’s a better picture of Denver Homeless Out Loud activist Ray Lyall and colleague, with the usual Denver protest entourage. Ray Lyall was found guilty of trespass last week, like his cohort DJ Razee before him. The two were among nine DHOL members arrested defending Tiny Houses on October 25, ten if you include a follow-up action, but Ray and DJ are the only cases to come to trial. Four more are scheduled soon: April 20, May 9 & 10, and June 1.

You might well ask, what of the remaining four? They PLED GUILTY.

It is customary not to condemn another’s self-preservation needs, but let’s be honest, taking the plea deal does hurt everybody. Pleading guilty implicates your co-defendants, validates the police probable cause, and sacrifices the opportunity for which arrest and detainment were the ante.

Ray Lyall took his case to trial, compelled five police officers and a Denver Housing Authority to take the stand, opportuned an eloquent lawyer to speak about homelessness and the bigger picture, tied up a municipal courtroom profit center for two days, and was sentenced to peanuts: one year probation plus community service. Probation is essentially what’s been on offer for plea deals, so Ray risked only being found not guilty.

DJ’s sentence admittedly was not peanuts, it included jail time. The judge declared she would rather have imposed probation, but DJ knew probation would hinder his options as a street activist. DJ stipulated jail so that afterward he’d be free to protest without the spector of a deferred sentence weighing upon him.

Plea deals have shaped a lamentable pattern for Denver activists. Owing to inadequate legal representation or financial hardship, many political arrestees have been tempted by offers of deferred prosecution or deferred sentencing which have necessitated their abstention from further protest. Some who have continued to participate in demonstrations have been in the awkward position of encouraging others to do what they could no longer risk, perpetuating the cycle of arrests and plea deal emasculation.

The Denver activist community has some serial plea dealers, who always take pleas and ensnare newbies with them every cycle. As a result, fresh activists become burned out and regular police oppression is emboldened.

The irony of course is that the vast majority of Denver protest arrests have been violations of civil liberties. It will only stop when the police are challenged and sued. Obstruction, interference, failure to obey, resisting, trespass, disturbing the peace etc, are the habitual pretexts which Denver police have been using to curb street protest. Even the felony charge of assault of a police officer has been succesfully used to scare activists into taking pleas. Usually such “assaults” were simply collisions or confrontations where police officers were the actual assailants.

Not everyone is in a position to fight their charges to the bitter end, but asserting the illegitimacy of political arrests is critical to bringing Denver police to heel.

If you are going to plead guilty because you don’t think you have the right to march in the street or to ignore unconstitutional orders or to defy unjust laws, DON’T DO IT. Spare the rest of us the bad example of capitulating to wrongful authority.

Ray Lyall Denver homeless man loses home in legal battle over tiny houses


DENVER, COLORADO- Ray Lyall was among nine homeless rights advocates arrested last October trying to defend a row of Tiny House model homes they built on public land administrated by the Denver Housing Authority. All were accused of trespass and today was Ray’s day in court before a jury of not quite his peers. Though the jury perceived Ray’s act to be political and were shown the paradox facing the city’s homeless, they found in favor of DHA and its SWAT eviction team. Denver’s lack of sympathy for the homeless is shared by Denver residents serving jury duty. All of whom were conscripted through addresses, many of them gentrified.

Like his co-defendant DJ Razee, the first of Ray’s colleagues to take a stand in court, Ray was found guilty of trespass.

Instead of jail time Ray was sentenced to twelve months probation, forty hours of community service, and a protection order to stay clear of DHA stooge Ryan Tobin. Ray also has to write a letter of apology stating that he understands trespass is not an acceptable protest act. Most significant however is an area restriction. Ray can’t return to the area bordered by Arapahoe and Lawrence, 25th and 26th, the block where Denver Homeless Out Loud erected “Resurrection Village”.

If the tiny houses were demolished the night of the police raid, and the vacant lot has been locked ever since, what does Ray’s area restriction matter?

The where to which Ray cannot return is under the tree he and DHOL’s real-life homeless members have called home before and since, a tree along the sidewalk of the DHA property, outside the fence but now inside Ray’s area restriction, where Ray & co. never bothered anyone, though maybe they troubled Ryan Tobin’s view, which is what prompted the heartless crackdown in the first place.

Ryan Tobin is not just DHA’s manager, he owns a $650,000 gentrified home across the street from the restricted lot. While urban “housing authority” entities purport to supply all income residences, they profit by redistributing properties to developers and relocating low income communities to the lesser desirable areas.

Denver inaugurated Spring 2016 with homeless sweeps to clear the gentrified neighborhood of its street dwellers. Where police can’t harass for “encumbrances” to move homeless along, they prosecute with “trespass”.

Each of the DHOL defendants who’ve reached trial or have taken plea deals have been given the area restriction. Restricted from a fenced lot surounded by no trespass signs. The legal overkill recalls the army of police officers deployed to assault DHOL and their tiny homes.

Ray isn’t going to jail but now he really has nowhere to go. Ray was houseless, a distinction that’s not just a technicality. Now Ray is homeless.

Denver courthouse arrest violated both Chief Justice Order and CJO injunction!


DENVER, COLORADO- The good news is that Denver has dropped the recent charges against Mark Iannicelli for disturbing the peace and violating a court order. The even better news is that the city had to release the probable cause statement which warranted Mark’s arrest. It turns out Mark was arrested for “distributing literature which is a prohibited activity on any walkway to the Courthouse.” Further, “The court order was posted at all public entrances to the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse which was where the incident took place.” While order CJO-15-1 is indeed posted at the door, it doesn’t ban the distribution of literature. Beside which, there’s a federal injunction stopping Denver from continuing to make these arrests. True, the city’s appeal is on appeal, but the injunction stands. Hold on to your hat because there’s a fair amount of attention being paid to this matter, helicopter fly-bys and all. Failure to know the law, or as they say, not getting the memo, is no excuse, as we all know, especially for cops.

Mark Iannicelli: Denver’s Gentle Giant

Mark Iannicelli and the Fully Informed Jury Association
Who Doesn’t Love a Good Fairytale? The Story of Mark Iannicelli Denver’s Gentle Giant. Activist Mark Iannicelli was arrested in front of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse for distributing jury nullification literature. The nature of his crime was simply to inform citizens of their rights as a juror. Mark is a soft spoken gentle giant, always respectful. He can often be found in front of the courthouse or the Tattered Cover book store where he helps with feeding the homeless on Fridays.

Why was Mark targeted for arrest by the Sheriffs deputies ? Was Mark such a threat to society that arrest was warranted?

A non violent soft-spoken man passing out information concerning a citizens’ rights is considered such a danger that the waste of taxpayers’ money and police resources is the only solution?

And so the Fairytale begins, a man peacefully passing out small folders with innocent words, is seen as a threat to a system that operates in secrete behind closed doors, a system that would prefer the citizens remain ignorant of their rights.

Can a government that never miss’s an opportunity to tell the people they are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Be truly free when they tremble in such fear of information.

And the very sad part of this fairytale is that Mark was granted a federal injunction against arrest by the Federal Court in Denver for the act of giving information to the public at the courthouse.

BREAKING: Denver jury nullification advocate Mark Iannicelli arrested again


DENVER, COLORADO- Activists distributing jury nullification literature in front of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse were once again arrested this morning. Sheriffs deputies arrested Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt, the pair originally charged last year with jury tampering, based this time on an accusation of harassing people entering the courthouse. Brandt was detained and eventually let go, but Iannicelli was taken into custody after a complainant fingered him for harassment. Once Iannicelli’s lawyer was reached, a timely call to the office of the city attorney freed Iannicelli within the hour.

Mark Iannicelli emerged from the Van Cise Simonet Dentention Facility just before noon with a citation charging him with Disturbing the Peace and “Violation of Court Orders” whatever they think that means. The court order, a federal injunction to be precise, orders the city and county of Denver NOT TO ARREST Iannicelli, Brandt, or anyone, for distributing JN literature in the Lindsey Flanigan plaza.

Last August, Iannicelli and Brandt were charged with seven counts of jury tampering for exactly this activity. In January the charges were dismissed but DA Mitch Morrissey is appealing. Meanwhile the federal injunction will be proceding to trial next month.

Iannicelli and fellow activists with Occupy Denver have been handing out JN fliers every weekday since his arrest last year. The stint begins before 7:30am, while the public is kept waiting at the locked courthouse doors. Then defendents, jurors, lawyers and whatnot arrive in waves until 9:30am. Between those times, activists stand near the front doors quietly passing out fliers and engaging in conversation with whoever inquires.

Mark is the friendliest of all the “lonely pamphleteers” and his being accused of being anything other than friendly will be easily disproved by the security cameras and security personel keeping a close watch on the disputed activity outside.

Mark’s arrest is the twentieth since OD’s jury nullification campaign began, not counting two citations for having an OD leader caught off leash.

Even as Denver loses in court battles the city doubles down. It’s a bitch for civil liberties but the ultimate outcome will be all the more funny.

Monk Brown set up a tent on the plaza. It took a SWAT team to take it down. Now a Denver jury took them down.

Adrian Monk Brown
DENVER, COLORADO- Homeless Adrian “Monk” Brown was accused of “obstruction” for sitting in a protest tent last August 26th on the plaza of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse. Monk was also charged with “interference” with the riot police sent to evict him. A subsequent charge of “failure to obey” was added by prosecutors pressuring Monk to take a plea. After a two day trial which ended Wednesday, a Denver County jury found Monk Brown NOT GUILTY of either obstruction or failure to obey. Owing maybe to a crime scene video that highlighted the brutal irreverance shown by protesters toward DPD officers, the jury did convict Monk of interference. Except now it wasn’t a crime scene. Monk’s attorney Melissa Trollinger Annis is challenging the inconsistent verdict because it’s unlikely interference will stick without the police having a cause for arrest. Monk wasn’t obstructing.

This verdict marks the second time Monk has beaten the obstruction charge. The first was November 17 when Monk was acquitted of erecting a tent in the plaza on August 28, two days after the recent case. Monk put up that tent the moment he got out of jail for his August 26 arrest. He was fully acquitted in that case. Monk’s subsequent arrests in the plaza on September 18 and September 24 were dismissed and dropped, respectively.

Monk’s arrests numbered among the 19 arrests and two citations issued against the plaza demonstrators during a full time Occupy Denver protest which ran from August 26 to October 21, 2015, when DPD effected a final eviction and activist resources became terminally waterlogged. Just as the activists have now become tied up in court, Denver police headquarters are now overburdened with a hoard of tents, tarps, chairs, umbrellas, banners, and drums which must be kept in evidence.

The plaza protest was launched after the arrest of Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt for distributing jury nullification fliers at the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse. Activists with Occupy Denver won a federal court injunction to prevent such further arrests. With an ongoing legal battle stipulating the plaza as not just a traditional free speech zone, but a designated free speech zone, the city’s backdoor methods of restricting First Amendment Rights could be isolated and exposed.

For too long, the city of Denver has been able to curb free speech through backdoor charges: Obstruction, disturbing the peace, jaywalking, and TRESPASS. Activists are even charged with resisting arrest, when subjects are actively objecting to their unlawful arrest. The days of halting political demonstrations by having riot cops enforce city ordinances such as obstruction may be drawing to a close.

HEADS UP: DPD courtroom leak reveals Denver homeless sweep to start at 1pm


DENVER, COLORADO- City attorneys asked county court Judge Espinoza for a continuance today because their key witness was preoccupied with a “city wide operation” which they conceded was the well publicized homeless sweep which local media teams and Denver homeless have been anticipating all morning. It turns out Commander Lopez might have trouble reaching the witness stand because he’s set to begin the confiscation of homeless possessions around the Samaritan House at 1PM. So that’s news for everyone. Please spread the word. Trial attendees are planning to spend their lunch break augmenting activist numbers at Park Avenue and Lawrence.

Denver jury convicts homeless man of trespassing on their yuppy lifestyle. DJ Razee’s tiny house idea was too big.

Delbert J. Razee
DENVER, COLORADO- In the witness stand Delbert “DJ” Razee spoke eloquently about the Tiny House movement and Resurrection Village, a local experiment sponsored by advocates Denver Homeless Out Loud to suggest one remedy for the house-less of Colorado. Razee’s lawyer Frank Ingham made fools of the Denver Housing Authority stooge and four police officers who testified against the chronically homeless English Lit grad. Razee was charged with trespass on public land, on an empty city block which was supposed to have been used for affordable housing. Razee was among ten homeless activists arrested one night in November for refusing to vacate several very small structures they’d erected on property which the DHA was converting from a community garden to gentrified condos. After two days of trial, a jury of well-housed peers found Razee guilty, lest others of his untouchable caste darken their doorsteps or the vacant lots near them. On Thursday March 3rd at 8:30am DJ Razee reports to Judge Beth Faragher for sentencing.

It was an amazing trial. While his compatriots sought continuances or plea deals, DJ held his ground and never waived speedy trial. DJ was impatient to put the Denver Housing Authority on the stand. Their representative Ryan Tobin blew off a February 3rd subpoena, but when DJ’s lawyer Frank Ingham cross-examined Tobin on the 22nd, Tobin incriminated himself more than Razee. Ryan Tobin was the DHA goon who pressed charges against the activists for trespassing on the public lot opposite his $650K home. Tobin also sought a protection order against one of the activists, which restrained that person from approaching not just Tobin but the entire public lot. Can one do that? The protection order didn’t come up at DJ’s trial.

DHA
The DHA is a quasi-municipal entity which handles city property meant to accomodate lower income residents. The DHA is Denver’s second largest property owner. The city blocks at 26th and Lawrence used to be low income housing but have been razed for years. More recently a portion was used for a community garden but the DHA was evicting the urban farmers to sell the block to a high rise developer.

The logic offered was that DHA could use the proceeds of land speculation to build more affordable housing elsewhere. That strategy might impress business people but it’s clearly absurd. Instead of being a counterbalance to gentrification, this housing authority thinks its role is to be a tool for displacement.

Tobin’s testimony will benefit all the Tiny House defendants, depending on their juries. DJ is only the first of the arrestees to be brought to trial. Tobin admitted he had never clearly expressed who had the authority to issue a trespass order. Tobin also couldn’t say who precisely was present when he made his initial announcement to the group, although he claimed it was “everyone”. This was a chief contention of the city attorneys.

How about an sidebar for activists, as a sort of debrief:

On Tobin’s first visit, someone among the activists called EVERYONE together to listen to his announcement, austensibly to have a dialog. As a matter of practice this was regretable. First, because the action was already underway and there was no expectation that dialog could or should redirect the action. Second, it presented exactly what an authority issuing a formal notice needed: everyone in one place to BE GIVEN NOTICE.

Two, the city prosecutors used a video recording of the event, made by the activists themselves, to prove that the trespassers had received notice. While the taped discussion was not so clear, and the many subsequent announcements over police bullhorns were garbled, it didn’t help that the videographer offered narration to make what was being said explicit to viewers and bystanders. Offering, for example: “so basically we’ve been given notice that if we don’t leave the cops will come to arrest us.” Which alas is the confirmation prosecutors need that lawful orders were understood.

Although the city sought to incriminate Razee with the video, the footage provided wonderful context for the larger issue, the paradox faced by the homeless, had the jury been receptive. It also captured Ryan Tobin’s cavalier attitude about housing inequities. When he was asked by the group “Move along to where?” Tobin made this thoughtless suggestion: “Where did you come from?” Boos from his audience at the scene were echoed by the viewers in the courtroom.

Ryan Tobin couldn’t identify DJ at all, neither that he’d given DJ notice to leave, nor that he’d ever seen DJ before in his life. DJ described Tobin’s failure to recognize him in a FB post:

For six weeks, from October 23rd until December 9th, I shoveled the walks, carted away the trash, and resided at Resurrection Village at the same location as Sustainability Park, and Ryan Tobin who lives directly across the street from the property, testified that he has never seen my face. Of course, he hadn’t- I am one of the invisible people who is a criminal in the eyes of the housed, and the law.

DPD
The testimony of four DPD officers was also self-damning. Neither commander, nor lieutenants, nor arresting officer could fully justify why they deployed in combat gear. Even the jurors were set back by the militarized atmosphere, the helicopter overhead, and the overabundance of cops for a TRESPASS INFRACTION. About the helicopter, a lieutenant claimed she called in a mere “fly-by” but police video proved it hovered for nearly an hour.

One amusing aspect for many of us in the audience, was how the DPD witnesses would always refer to the offending activists as “Occupiers”. Denver Homeless Out Loud, in its need to gain cooperation with civic and law enforcement entities, takes great pains to distance itself from its roots in Occupy Denver. At any demonstration in Denver, an “Occupy” presence, usually merely the familiar OD faces, always means an escalated police escort and unseen armored-up reserves. While it may have been inaccurate to label the Tiny House trespassers as occupiers, it’s true that when protesters are holding their ground in Denver, refusing police orders, they are occupying. Like the Black Bloc, it’s not a who, it’s a tactic.

Attending the trials of activists is worth it if only to hear the testimony of the police. You learn what they’re trained to do, what their objectives are, and what they think you’re doing. Most officers, even commanders, think we need a permit to demonstrate. HA!

The first four witnesses could not place DJ at the scene, but the arresting officer finally fingered the accused. Asked if he could identify DJ, he pointed to the defendant’s table and described DJ’s courtroom attire for the record. You have to wonder if police witnesses look to the defendant’s chair by default, without regard to what they remember. How could they remember so many arrestees, months after the incident? I’m guessing that anyone sitting in DJ’s seat would have been ID’d as DJ.

I pose this question because of how DJ’s arresting officer was allowed to identify DJ on the crime scene video. Instead of letting the video play through and asking the officer if DJ appeared on the video and where, DJ’s prosecutors froze the video when the camera lingered on DJ and then asked the officer to ID him. The defense counsel objected vehemently and when overruled he motioned for a mistrial. So the judge reconsidered and granted Ingham’s motion. She then asked the jury to disregard the officer’s response and she made the prosecutor play the video again without prompting the officer, even though of course now he knew at which frame DJ appeared.

The jury
The entire trial was so farcical and so mercenary considering the inconsequence of the charge, that audience members were certain the jury was empathic to DJ and the victimization of Denver’s homeless. Nope. We knew from Voir Dire that the jury included an entrepreneur, a trader, and an inheritance consultant. All but one of the NPR listeners had been eliminated but we hoped she’d be a holdout. It was not to be. When the jury emerged with its verdict, the foreman carrying the written decision was the fratboy day trader.

Fratboy had been the juror submitting written questions to supplement what neither attorney had asked. We knew from the bent of his inquiries that he was playing a role that defense attorneys fear, a self-deputized investigator for the prosecutor, filling in the gaps of the testimony, seeking, if even unconsciously, to eliminate the “reasonable doubt” which is supposed to remain as a reason to aquit. That’s why defense attorneys generally object to Colorado’s rule allowing jurors to interject with their own questions to witnesses. On the plus side, such questions do offer both sides a hint of where those jurors are leaning.

As Denver gentrifies, it should be no surprise that juries will represent the affluent more than the demographics being displaced. DJ’s jury had absolutely zero concern for punishing a homeless man for his elegant protest gesture or for his unresolved circumstance. They laughed and made no eye contact with the audience as they turned their backs to return to their homes and leave a homeless man in greater jeopardy with the penal system.

DJ was not tried by a jury of his peers. Can the homeless get justice in the US court system? American juries are racist and classist, but you’re unlikely to find someone more untouchable to jurors than someone who is dispossessed.

As activists, we’ve got to do something about these Denver juries. Advocating for jury nullification is not enough. Denver’s urban social climbers need a welcome-to-the-community brochure, or swift kicks in the ass until they acknowledge there’s a brotherhood of man.

Iron Order, Sentinel, or Blue Knights. Denver cops want to kill with impunity whether in uniform or in biker gangs.

THAT’S RICH. Denver’s most violent gang literally dresses the part. Not satisfied to kill untried, unarmed, spur-of-the-moment, suspects with impunity, Denver law enforcement officers maraud off-duty as biker gangs, to get some of that action. Last week’s biker shootout at the Denver Coliseum, for a period involving an “active shooter”, yielded zero arrests even though there is one dead and several injured. One shooter is known. He’s a Department of Corrections officer, though he’s not “the” shooter as yet, and a member of the IRON ORDER, a “cop club” among Colorado’s motorcycle clubs. The dead and wounded are Bandidos, perhaps not by coincidence the fall guys at the infamous Waco shootout, which also turned out to have involved exclusively police bullets. Like the Blue Knights and The Sentinels, who can’t even disguise their vocation from their outlaw alter-egos, the Iron Order espouse “traditions, values, and mahem”. I’ll let you decide if their ORDER derives from “iron horse” (their ride), Iron Maiden (their role models) or the neonazi Iron Cross.

You won’t see Michael Marshall in his jail death video because his body is obscured by five deputies killing him

 

 
DENVER, COLORADO- Never mind the video showing the in-custody killing of trespass suspect Michael Marshall, says Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, “Most of Mr. Marshall’s body is not visible in the majority of the video footage after he is taken to the floor because the deputies bodies’ block the view of the camera.”

That’s right, it took five sheriff deputies to keep the 112 lb. Marshall floored. “He was surprisingly strong” said one of the deputies, which is the same compliment deputies paid to Marvin Booker, another 135 lb. 50 year-old African American man whose schizophrenic episode was treated with a lethal dose of dispassionate elbow grease.

The Denver DA announced today he had no plans to prosecute the dentention center deputies for Marshall’s sudden involuntary release from confinement. The DA ignored terrifying details from the earlier coroner’s report but adds previously unknown facts which will be revealed when the video is made public later this week. He reports that “OPN devices (nunchucks) were used on Mr. Marshall’s ankles” and “a leg chain was placed on his lower legs.” Michael Marshall “struggled on the floor for over 2 minutes before he went limp.” and it took deputies 13 minutes and 20 seconds before Marshall was placed into a restraint chair where nurses discovered he wasn’t breathing.

Ignored completely are the damning details listed by the medical examiner: the blood in Marshall’s lungs and pulverized muscle tissue consistent with beating.

Instead Morrissey concentrates on aspiration as cause of death. Did it cause Marshall’s death or did others factors contribute? By other factors he’s not talking about the 900lbs of deputees.

As with Marvin Booker, police experts blame not the excessive use of force but the victim’s exertions against the force, struggling to breathe under a pile of officers very specifically. I’m reminded of the adage, it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden deceleration at the end. Michael Marshall couldn’t breathe, he kept trying alegedly, and the officers weren’t going to loosen their hold until he was comatose.

The city attorneys office plans to release the jail surveillance video tomorrow. You won’t see Michael Marshall but you’ll see the deputies who wrestled the slight-built Marshall to his death. The DA report lists their names: sheriffs deputies Bret Garegnani, Carlos Hernandez, Smajo Civic, Thanarat Phuvapaisalkij, and Sarah Bautista.

Marshall’s death hasteners join Marvin Booker’s killers, deputies James Grimes, Kyle Sharp, Kenneth Robinette, and Sgt. Carrie Rodriguez, all still on the jailhouse team. Except Deputy Faun Gomez, who was disciplined for another excessive force infraction and now serves with the highway patrol.

David, Goliath, and Eric Brandt


I must confess, I’m no fan of the Bible, I’ve never understood how a man’s lips are moving and it is called the word of god. The same is true with the written word, the pen is in the hand of the human. But there are stories in the bible with a powerful message. One such story is of a small shepherd boy who goes down into the valley armed with a slingshot and a few small stones. The story of Eric Brandt.

Eric Brant went down into the valley of the 16th street mall and waited there for the giant to come to him. Eric had baited his trap with a donut, he knew of the giant’s hunger for donuts.

The giant lard ass cop came into the valley astride his motorcycle, he meant to dispatch Eric to the nearest jail. This lard ass cop had with him the power of the prosecutor, the court and a kangaroo judge.

Eric had only the truth, a small sling shot and one small smooth stone, attorney David Lane who was with the gift of words.

The giant raised his mighty sword to slay Eric. With one smooth motion Eric brought forth his smooth stone (David Lane) and sent the giant to the ground in a matter of moments.

The Moral of this story: When you come into Eric’s valley, you better bring more than the power of the state or he will send your donut munching ass back to yo mom-ma, minus yo head and ego.