Tag Archives: Occupy Denver

Western Conservative Summit guests and Republican presidential candidates called out for being tools & assclowns


DENVER, COLORADO- The annual Western Conservative Summit convened at the Colorado Convention Center on Friday but not without loud protestations from Occupy Denver activists. Denver police held their own demonstration of how to trample civil liberties when their Republican clients command it.

Occupy rally for DPD teen victim Jessie Hernandez rained out, Denver cops deploy anyway. #justiceforjessie

May 20 protest at Wellington Webb Building in Denver
DENVER, COLORADO- Rain kept numbers down at the event yesterday calling for Denver officials to investigate the brutal police murder of Latina teen Jessica Hernandez. Even as the crowd influx never surged beyond steady, over the course of two hours the police force arrayed against Occupy Denver and their allies never wavered from the usual: disproportionate and overwhelming. The DPD is obviously taking no chances with the potential firestorm the teen’s killing could ignite in the Denver community. Excellent. Humbled as we may feel that it takes so few activists to threaten the system, we feed off that fear. Individual police officers can denigrate protesters all they want, obviously the protests have their respect.

City of Denver wins court battle to ignore the homeless, one arrest made


DENVER, COLORADO- The trial of the Tattered Cover Five concluded this week. For three days a municipal court considered whether a complaint made against protesters drumming in front of the downtown Tattered Cover Bookstore should or should not curb the protesters’ freedom of speech. And the jury really didn’t get it. Not only did their verdict uphold the police’s discretion to decide whose speech can be considered to be disturbing the peace, but the jury introduced their own arbitrary enforcement, judging some drummers guilty and some not, even though the complaint which prompted the charges was based on the “loud and unusual noise” generated by the ensemble.

The jury had even heard testimony that defendants were threatened with arrest if we “so much as touched a drum.” How then could this case be about disturbing the peace via loud noise? Defense attorney David Lane knew our acts of defiance were more accurately “disturbing the police.”

More obtuse than the Denver jury was the presiding judge, who resisted every rational objection and motion to insure that blunt authoritarianism always received the benefit of the doubt. I’ll admit our supporters in the audience were glib throughout the trial as our lawyer David Lane could hardly sidestep using the dumb and dumber city attorneys for mops. But the judge always ruled in dumb’s favor. It was as if courtroom 3H was an Affirmative Action program for logical fallacies, and the judge was a rubber-stamp for the rule of bad law.

This was never more clear than in the trial’s final moments, when extra deputies ringed the courtroom and then arrested an audience member.

Just before the jury was to emerge with its verdict, the judge reminded everyone that filming or recording the jury was prohibited. David Lane voiced his objection at the buildup of officers in the courtroom without cause. As usual the judge was dismissive.

Lane emphasized that in all his years this was an uncharacteristic show of force. The judge didn’t care: “Objection noted.” It was her usual refrain.

As the officers moved closer to the audience to make their oppressive presence felt, the activism instinct to raise cell phones at the ready gave the officers their cause. This escalated into a standoff, with the deputies ordering an activist to leave the courtroom. His protestations of innocence were interpreted as resisting so he was led off in handcuffs, prompting of course more impulses to film the arrest.

When more officers began targeting more cellphones, a voice of authority rang out. It wasn’t the judge calling for order in the court. No, she was satisfied to let the deputes maraud through the audience and extract people with physical force without even looking up from her monitor. It was the sonorous voice of David Lane that brought the officers to heel. He said “Nobody can take anyone’s phone.” Lane’s gravitas had never given the judge pause but it stopped the deputes in their tracks.

“The most an officer can ask you to do is to put your phone in your pocket” Lane continued. One activist was holding his phone aloft in a game of keep-away with two deputes. Hesitantly he and the other audience members pocketed their phones.

When the jury members made their entrance they were greeted by a militarized courtroom and an audience numb with shock over the justice system’s indifference to abuse of power. We were in for a worse surprise.

It could be the jury did step up to David Lane’s challenge. He’d told them they would never in their lives wield as much power as they did on this jury, their chance to fashion how First Amendment protections are upheld. Except they didn’t share Lane’s or our concern for holding off a police state. Instead they sided with the prosecution, who urged they preserve “the right to ignore someone else’s opinion.”

Honest to God, our weekly protest at the Tattered Cover was presented to have been about the Urban Camping Ban. The jury understood we were urging people not to ignore the plight of the homeless. The city prosecutor’s words could not have been more ill chosen if one is embarassed by irony.

I was one of the defendants in the Trial of the Tattered Cover Five. One of us escaped charges due to a clerical error, two others were found not guilty for lack of self-incrimination. Tim Calahan and I were convicted of Disturbing the Peace, specifically for having created a loud and unusual noise in violation of a City of Denver ordinance. I got two convictions, community service, court fees, one year’s unsupervised probation, and supervision fees (yes that is a non sequitur), but all of it stayed pending appeal.

David Hughes arrested
So what happened to the courtroom arrestee? I’m free now to say that his name is David Hughes, Denver Occupier and IWW organizer. David wasn’t released until the next day, mostly because neither the city nor county was sure with what to charge him. David was kept in an underground cell between the courthouse and the county jail while the trial went on.

Stunned by our defeat in court, our now un-merry band’s attention was diverted to our imprisoned comrade. David had refused to be excluded from the courtroom and next we learned that, like any good Wobbly, David was refusing to reveal his identity. By chance his wife held his wallet and phone so David was free to complicate his abduction as anyone innocent of charges might. We continued to shout “Free John Doe” outside the courthouse in solidarity late into the night.

Was David guilty of using his phone camera? It’s generally understood that recording devices are not to be used in courtrooms, to respect the privacy of witnesses, the jury, and the accused. In this case the judge had specified not recording the jury which had not yet entered. What had interested David was the disproportionate buildup of sheriffs deputees. How many law enforcement officers can you have in a courtroom before the public feels threatened enough that they need to film the officers for the public’s own protection? What doesn’t get filmed, the cops get away with. The judge certainly wasn’t concerned for our protection.

Reflection
I really can’t understate the disappointment we all felt about the verdict. It was predictable yes, but unsettling to see it happen. We had the best lawyer that money can’t even buy, undone by the steady creep of Fascism. I associate it with our society’s declining education and public engagement, abetted by oppressive law.

For three days, attendees who were not readily recognized as being with the defendants could circulate the halls of the Linsey-Flanigan courthouse and overhear deputees talk about the case. All the deputees were greatly chagrined that The David Lane was representing us. Apparently they all know his reputation. There was no press interest except by KGNU, but lawyers who saw David Lane walk through the hall made a point to stop by our courtroom when they had the chance to watch him work.

And so it was really a blow to the ego to meet with failure. I’ve written before about how police intervention at our Tattered Cover protests ceased entirely after the first arraignment date when David Lane showed up in our stead. We’d been surveilled by a half dozen cruisers every Friday for a half year. After David Lane officially filed our papers that number went to zero. No more visits from officers, no more drivebys with videocameras, for almost a solid year now. It should be interesting to see what happens this Friday. Will the cruisers be back? They still have no cause. No disruptions, no conflicts, no threat of lawbreaking whatsoever.

Before Lane the officers regularly interrupted our assemblies to recite their warnings in spite of our objections. When Tim and I were arrested, we had to sit in a holding cell, shackled to a bench, while Sergeant Stiggler berated us for looking like fools. We were wrong about the camping ban, we were wrong about our rights, bla bla bla bla. We kept our mouths shut to shorten his lecture. After enduring our bullhorn for three months, he’d composed quite a rebuttal. His diatribe contradicted the suggestion that our arrests were about the noise and not our message.

For now unfortunately the sergeant turns out to have been correct about our rights. And looking like fools I guess.

For now Denver’s Disturbing the Peace ordinance does dismantle the First Amendment. For now it does allow what’s called a “heckler’s veto.” That’s a marker of unconstitutionality where one person’s complaint could be used to silence political speech to which they object. It does allow police officers to decide what “time place and manner” limits to place on free speech. Nevermind “Congress shall make no law to abridge” –that’s up to the police. It’s their call!

At our earlier motions hearing David Lane spent two days arguing that Denver’s ordinance was unconstitutional, to deaf ears obviously. At that hearing, DPD officer after officer testified that what qualified as a disturbance was entirely theirs to decide. Lane laid the groundwork to show that Denver police officers aren’t given a clue how to respect free speech. This judge was already satisfied I guess to pass the buck to a higher court.

In the meantime activists can no longer brey with confidence about free speech rights in Denver. We’ll have to engage with police submiting their proposed abridgements. We’ll have to bite our tongues, as they do I’m sure, feeling our hands tied more than we’d like, they longing to beat us. It’s going to be more difficult to recruit newcomers, uneasy with what confidence we can responsibly instill in them. “Am I going to get in trouble” is the first question they ask. Now the more probable answer is not maybe.

Mother Teresa was the Janet Matzen of Calcutta

(The above photo is of Janet on May Day 20015 feeding a group of 50 people in front of the state capital, still wearing that warm smile for all the homeless and hungry.)
 
Janet Matezen was a 54 year old working mom. She had recently lost her job at a local market where she worked as a meat cutter. Like many of the middle class, Janet was also struggling to make ends meet. It was October 2011, Occupy of Denver made camp in Denver’s Civic Center Park. Their number began to grow daily as word of the movement spread via the media. Janet had never been a protester or even been to a rally such as Occupy, but she was curious. She decided one day that she would drive to the park to see what it was all about.

When I first saw Janet in the park, she looked like any other mother from any city in America. She was average with one difference, she always had a warm smile. She began to talk with the others there in the park, and the more she heard their stories the more shocked she became at the conditions many there were living under. She never spoke of her own problems. Janet’s struggles seemed to fade as she listen to their stories. After all, she had a home and food for her table.

I believe the old adage “I use to feel sorry for myself because I had no shoes, and then I met a man who had no feet” best describes Janet’s experience there with Occupy in Denver’s Civic Center Park.

In the past four years, Janet has transformed herself into an advocate and champion of the homeless and hungry of Denver. Whenever the city council is considering new legislation such as the Anti Camping Ban, Janet is always there to lend her voice in defense of the poor and homeless.

When the Colorado House of Representatives were recently considering a bill of rights for the homeless, Janet was present at every stage of the hearings.

When the homeless are arrested for falling asleep in the park, she is always there to help, even if it’s only to be with them in court.

One spring day in 2012, I interviewed Janet in the city park; one of the questions I ask her was; “Did she have any fears of the people there in the park” her reply surprised me, she said “Oh no! I know they would protect me, it’s the police that I’m afraid of.” I did not miss the irony of her answer; to think that a 54 year old mother in the park would be more afraid of the police than the homeless.

I could only conclude, that Janet, after witnessing so much of the violence by the police against the homeless knew who in truth would serve and protect her.

Janet has also had her small victories, besides feeding the homeless, as reported in the “Popular Resistance”

**STAFF NOTE: Planned protests at Palm Restaurants are cancelled today.**

DENVER, CO. (October 18, 2013) – The Boycott the Urban Camping Ban Coalition is pleased to announce that The Palm Restaurant has officially withdrawn support for Denver’s Urban Camping Ban Ordinance passed in May 2012.

On May 6, 2012, Occupy Denver held their first Boycott in protest of the Urban Camping Ban at Snooze A.M. Eatery.1 It was attended by not just members of Occupy Denver, but activists from Denver and surrounding areas who were concerned about the treatment of their fellow human beings, the homeless. The “Urban Camping” Ban Ordinance was passed by the Denver City Council on May 14, 2012, at which time an ongoing weekly protest lead by Janet Matzen and Occupy Denver began at Snooze A.M. Eatery and later attracted coalition partners. On April 5, 2013, Snooze issued a statement reversing their position in support of the Ban.

On April 26, 2013, the Boycott was moved to The Palm Restaurant Denver and a weekly Friday night boycott began. Despite concerted efforts by the Denver City Council through the Denver Police Department to quash Boycotters’ Constitutional rights to free speech and protest, the protest continued strongly and garnered International support.

Today, we are pleased to announce that The Palm Restaurant, who we truly believe cares for the plight of the homeless, announced they no longer support the “Urban Camping” Ban Ordinance. We thank The Palm Restaurant for standing with the homeless and calling for the repeal of the “Urban Camping” Ban in Denver.
Once again, we urge all businesses and organizations in Denver to review the Denver Homeless Out Loud Report on the implementation and impacts the Ban has had and call for its repeal.

I’ve often been amazed that Janet can be in so many places doing so many different things and all for the benefit of the homeless and poor. Most recently you will find Janet, every Friday in front of the Tattered Cover book store where she continues to protest the anti camping while at the same time feeding the hungry and homeless of Denver.

We often hear the word “Grassroots” but I never saw in action as I’ve seen it with Janet. She gives real meaning to the phrase “Grassroots Activist” with her compassion for others.

Suzanna Arundhati Roy spoke so eloquently when she said: “And so it is, in the quiet breathing of Janet, I see that possible world.”

Get a job you dirty hippie! Unhelpful advice which activists take personally.

Occupy Wall Street composed a chant to rebut the ageless heckle hurled at protesters: GET A JOB YOU DIRTY HIPPIE! After Zuccotti Park was razed and Occupiers regrouped, they offerd this rejoinder. Remember it?
    “Got a JOB. Took a SHOWER.
    We’re still occupying, speaking truth to power!”

Of course it wasn’t true, or at least whether we did or not was as irrelevant as the original misconception. But street activists come up against misguided advice much more pernicious than the crudely insulting. Consider the constructive advice from journeymen activists who’ve been at this for a long time and know how it’s done. You know the ones, who preach nonviolence or you’ll never get anywhere, as if they have a record of success or fount of experience more illustrative than the old grindstone. False history has even robbed them of the authentic lessons to glean from Gandhi and MLK. Yet even the best-intentioned of our peers caution that movements will never take hold without blablabla. This sacred cow, for instance: community outreach.

A colleague of mine recently asked about my ideas to better reach out to the African American community vis-a-vis the protests which Occupy Denver has been spearheading to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter uprisings in Baltimore and Ferguson. At face value it’s a reasonable question as Occupy franchizes across the country have been predominantly white. At base however, the distinction is academic and the implication insulting.

In Denver, as probably in many multicultural urban centers since Ferguson, authorities have succeeded in working with community leaders to redirect street protest into the usual back channels. In Denver the spiritual leaders have kept their flocks locked in their churches. When Denver high schoolers began to stage walk-outs, school administrators put the schools on lockdown. Traditional social justice groups fell victim to academics and their identity politics diatribes. White priviledge must “make space”, in effect, step back, whether or not alternative leaders were knocking. In Denver the most significant protest entity impervious to scholatisc impotence or the wiles of religious submission was Occupy Denver. Since 2011 this ad hoc collection of protest-hardened activists could mobilize at the flick of a switch, usually through social media. By definition, Occupy refused to bind themselves to everybody else’s longstanding arrangements of detente.

Of course this persistence is not static and there are ceaseless internal pressures to conform and play for crumbs. Table scraps are sustenance after all, and all mature decisions are compromises. Adults choose lesser evils, safety nets, the bird in the hand, wisdom over altruism. Can dreamers even be sure the burning stove isn’t an adage meant to waylay us from our childish intuition about freedom? From the frying pan into the fire is more probably the forbidden roadmap to revolution.

You want to know the sage advice that burns me up the most? Comrades telling me the struggle will be a long haul. A marathon. Are you kidding me? Revolution is a sprint! We’ve got to light a fire under your ass!

In any case. Community outreach. What’s the problem? My first thought was of the criticism protesters still face everyday: “GET A JOB!” Everyone seems to have their own idea about what other activists are supposed to be doing.

On the subject of Occupy and “outreach” I offer six points:

1. Did Occupy Wall Street reach out to the community of brokers and bankers on Wall Street? It did not. Occupy was about disruption, gathering on the street and uniting activists. Community organizing was another sort of activism. Occupy was not voting, or going around trying to get out the vote, or lobbying legislators, or gathering petition signatures, or fundraising, or taking in cats, or walking in people’s shoes. All of these are perfectly constructive things, but they’re fundamental to what Occupy was not. I know it sounds mature to talk about building community and helping out and being less disruptive but those are tasks that keep conventional social justice groups too busy to occupy.

2. I am reminded of a lesson learned as occupiers coordinated their efforts. If you feel there is a task going undone, you probably should step up to do it. Others have their hands full with what they are doing. If you feel there is a deficiency and it’s important to you, fill it.

3. That said, there is an imperative not to dillute the fundamental mission. If tangential efforts drain the human resources needed for the goal that brought everyone together, then somebody is winning and it’s not Occupy.

4. Denver’s African American community already has their leaders, most of them undisposed to street activism. Occupy Denver’s community is with activists of all colors. We reach them through the message, our actions, and our unending persistance. None of these are based on color lines.

5. Occupy has many black activist allies. On the street we support them EVERY TIME regardless of whether they support us. Even if it’s “their” issue. If they are not able to rally as frequently as we can, it’s not their fault. (That is White middle class privilege.)

6. If you think the African American community is central to addressing the probem of racism, that’s a problem. It should be up to the WHITE AMERICAN COMMUNITY to shout “BLACK LIVES MATTER” the loudest of all.

Occupy Denver activist is arrested for filming cops brutalizing homeless man

Video still from camera footage
DENVER, COLORADO- On the subject of filming cops, Denver activist Caryn Sodaro is in trouble again. Caryn was attending a community meeting on Colfax Avenue when attention was drawn to an arrest happening at an adjacent liquor store parking lot. Several people converged on the scene, Caryn ahead of everyone, her videocamera aimed at an officer grinding his knee into the face of a prone man, likely homeless. Another cop looked on, warning his partner that they were being filmed, while an Argonaut security guard prevented the witnesses from getting close. Unlike onlookers who only dare to record an abusive arrest, Caryn tried to prevent further brutality and so raised her voice to caution the officers that their acts were not going unnoticed. Soon enough the witnesses were being ordered to leave Argonaut’s private property. Though deep within the departing group –everyone was complying– Caryn was picked out for arrest anyway. Fortunately she passed her camera to a colleague who was able to prevent the footage from being confiscated by the DPD. It’s all on tape: the details described here and the reinforcements piling on Caryn. She spent the afternoon in jail. Her next court date is April 27.

CASE DISMISSED! City of Denver drops charges against Occupier Patrick Jay


DENVER, COLORADO- Prosecuting attorneys for the City of Denver were granted their own motion to have their case against Patrick Jay dismissed for lack of evidence! Prominent civil rights lawyer David Lane was informed this weekend that all charges against Patrick have been dropped.

Patrick was arrested last December while returning to his car after a ?#?BlackLivesMatter? protest. He was seized by SWAT officers while VIDEOTAPING the snatch and grab arrest of fellow activist Max Mendieta. Patrick was charged with obstructing traffic while marchers staged die-ins at prominent Denver intersections. *

According to police, HALO cameras recorded Patrick and others blocking vehicles. The cameras might also have confirmed that their actions prevented cars from running over the marchers laying prone on the pavement. We’ll never know because the DPD now says the footage is gone. After defendants declined to take plea deals, Patrick’s defense attorney David Lane learned the HALO footage would not be available for discovery because the surveillance files had been accidentally overwritten! In view of this, David Lane motioned for a dismissal, but city attorneys assured the judge that there were DPD officers enough to bear witness against Patrick Jay. Lane vowed to compel those officers to first have to pick Patrick from out of a line up. Patrick’s jury trial was set for April, but last week city attorneys tendered their own motion for a dismissal and that motion was granted.

Patrick Jay’s charges were dropped and his First Amendment rights were vindicated, but of course the Denver Police achieved their goal of intimidating activists who have to brace themselves for arbitrary arrest even though they know their rights. Over the course of many months of marches, participation has suffered attrition not just because people are frightened, don’t want to or can’t subject themselves to arrest, but some activists who had no alternative but to take plea deals now cannot risk violating the terms of probation which forbid their participation in protests.

Only a few days after Patrick’s arrest, he and I were leaving another anti-police-brutality march when multiple DPD cruisers swooped up to us on the sidewalk. This time instead of jumping off and unto us, an officer in the lead vehicle shouted from his rolled-down window: “Scared you?!”

Yes, officer, you did. **

Arrests and harassment have helped the DPD reduce protest numbers. Because of favorable plea deals or inadequate legal representation, no one has yet had the chance to challenge the veracity of their charges, until now. Several cases, including Max Mendieta’s, are still pending. Max is also represented by David Lane. Hopefully the recognition of Patrick’s arrest being unwarranted will turn the tide.

————-
NOTES:
* PATRICK’S ARREST
WAS SURREAL. Everyone was returning to their cars, putting signs into trunks etc, when the police SUV carrying riot cops on its sideboards made a slow pass. This was a development we began to notice at earlier events. Even though the officers in riot gear might not have had to show themselves during a march, they would emerge afterward on their SUVs to cruise by our vehicles, almost to a stop as if scanning our cars looking for suspicious occupants. We didn’t think much of it except this time they stopped and the entire gang lept off to seize one of our group, Max Mendieta, as he walked the few solitary steps to his car. Patrick started to film the whole incident, from when police forced Max to the ground until they hauled him into custody. We’d reconstituted into a small group of less than a dozen, activists eager to dissuade further arressts, but the riot cops elbowed past us to seize another, which Patrick filmed, and then they grabbed Patrick. Patrick asked what they were arresting him for, but the officers wouldn’t say, only that it would be listed on his arrest warrant.

Ironically their irreverant answer turned out to be incorrect. But first I want to tell you what happened when the police drove off. They left an officer behind. The SUV loaded with riot cops, minus one, stopped several car lengths away when someone noticed the error. Their sargeant had been left on the street, in his cumbersome riot gear, unable to fit in the ordinary cruisers, and barely able to catch up with the waiting SUV. I guess the SUV driver didn’t want to risk backing over his sargeant, so the fat man lumbered slowly back to his perch, his riot gear clinking with every plodding step, like a minuscule robocop, the crowd barely able to sustain its “nah-nah-nah-nah” chant for laughing so hard.

Perhaps as payback, the arrestees that night -there were four total- had to wait sixteen hours “for their fingerprints to clear.”

Back to Patrick’s undeclared charges. Due to what we could only construe to be a typo, Patrick’s citation read “database-error” where the offense was supposed to be. Patrick had to sit in jail for 16 hours, post bail, await arraignment, and seek a lawyer, knowing only that he was charged with database-error. When the magistrate asked if he pled guilty, Patrick said “To what? Database error?” “No.”

** YES THERE’S MORE TO THIS STORY TOO. After the DPD pulled their gag, the officers watched as we walked to the building under which we’d parked our vehicle. The hour having become late, we discovered the stairwell doors locked. We imagined the officers laughing as they saw us circle the office building testing every door. We soon realized that our only recourse was to descend the car ramp to the parking area, but we were afraid that the police would follow and corner us there, out of view of other late night passersby. Security cameras or no, we feared what two dozen or so cops could do to two pedestrians; what we know often happens to homeless indigents in back alleys and poorly lit spaces; what happens to African Americans in broad daylight while they scream “I Can’t Breathe!” So we waited until the police cars lost interest before we ventured down the ramp.

Not being able to count on even our own police to obey the law, knowing the brutality of which police are capable, and witnessing the capriciousness of police abuse of authority, is the terror that defines living in a police state.

Arrests reach seven at weekly protest of two-faced Denver bookstore

Tattered Cover arrests
DENVER, COLORADO- Occupy Denver’s Tim Calahan and I were arrested and jailed at last Friday’s boycott action against the Tattered Cover Bookstore. This marked Tim’s third citation for drumming, my second, and Janet Matzen’s first. For drumming. Disturbing the peace is what the DPD charges. We maintain the DPD are curbing our free speech. SO NOW I want to tell you the story of how famed civil rights attorney David Lane came to represent us.

The story begins Thursday before the Anonymous “Every5th” march. A couple friends and I were feeling trepidatious about the Anonymous march because the previous month’s Every5th had been abruptly curtailed by riot police. Several Anons were arrested and a number more pepper-sprayed, and so we wondered if we couldn’t get legal advice about how to assert our First Amendment rights without surrendering ourselves to jail. Also on our minds were the past two fridays at the Tattered Cover where citations had been handed out, drums confiscated, and warnings given that if we drummed again, the next arrestees would be jailed. So we went to the celebrated lawyer’s office and tried our luck with the receptionist.

I told her we were activists who were having a rough time with police, we thought they were violating our civil liberties, could David Lane be of any help? She looked at us increduously. We couldn’t just walk in she said, we had to take a card, we had to call in, we could leave a message, they’d call back if they were interested, they might not call back at all, it certainly wouldn’t be right away.

We told her time was rather of the essence, these arrests were as predictable as they were egregious, we didn’t know where to turn and these arrests seemed to present the kind of case in which David Lane specialized. The receptionist repeated her instructions in a tone that reflected she was not sure I wasn’t simply a lunatic.

After making more prolonged and embarassing enteaties, I finally submitted to following her instructions but I insisted too on leaving a written note which gave me further time to expound on our DPD versus the people predicament.

Turning to make our exit, I explained that we would be leaving her office to join a protest at which chances were pretty good we were going to be arrested, but that the next night at the Tattered Cover, we were most definitely going to be arrested. The receptionist made the oddest face as she search my eyes for some sign that I spoke her language. “Wait just a minute please” she told us as she beat a hasty retreat. Within that minute she returned to say “David Lane will meet you in the conference room.”

We spent the next half hour relating the details of our past arrests, how each had been captured on video, in front of witnesses, and how we’d been warned arrests would continue. We offered too that the police were also videotaping assiduously and that their accounts would match ours. David Lane assured us if we were conducting ourselves as we presented and if arrests endured, he would represent us and anyone else who stepped up to the plate. If exercising our freedom of speech became a risk where it was supposed to be right, standing up for us was the least he could do.

That night we hit the streets with a renewed sense of confidence, and the following evening at the Tattered Cover was an empowering experience like no other. As you can see in the photo above, we couldn’t keep our eyes off the half dozen cruisers keeping watch on us. Would they swoop in? When would they descend on us? The anticipation was frustrating. Who should film, who should take whose keys and phone, who did or didn’t want to beat the drum. We were ready for jail, we were ready to tell the officers, as we had the weeks before, that they couldn’t do what they were doing, we knew our rights. This time we could assure our DPD captors that they were asking for trouble in messing with Occupy. Stay tuned!

Did you know that if you disagree with someone’s free speech you can call the cops and say their voices disturb you?


IN DENVER YOU CAN! Denver police have been silencing picketers at the downtown Tattered Cover Bookstore by asserting that complaints give them the authority to curtail the Friday evening protests at will, even before the 10pm noise restriction. The DPD cite “time and place” restrictions to free speech, such as, you know: you can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Apparently they’re worried that crying “Boycott the Tattered Cover” will cause a stampede. We hope so too, and in a PUBLIC SPACE, we have that right.

Occupy Denver: not as badass as they pretend to be

DPD interrupt Occupy Denver protest at the Tattered Cover Bookstore
DENVER, COLORADO- Occupy activists were making their usual cacophony on Friday night when Denver police cruisers began converging into a familiar disproportionate show of force. Experienced skirmishers though Occupiers are, we couldn’t help whispering to each other as we watched more DPD officers accumulate on foot from vehicles yet unseen. The unintended effect of course was that our chanting diminished as the tension rose and Denver onlookers were treated to a literal illustration of the chilling effect of police intimidation. To make matters more embarassing, Occupy was shouting that we would not be silenced! By the time police were trooping upon us there was no sound but DPD boot steps and our “cameras on, everybody, cameras on.”

Our Friday night boycott of the Tattered Cover Bookstore is part of an OD operation to pressure downtown businesses to withdraw their support for the city’s urban camping ban, an ordinance which in effect criminalizes the homeless. The Tattered Cover claims to have asserted neutrality on the city’s decision to forbid sleeping and sheltering in public, but OD stands with Howard Zinn when he claimed “you can’t be neutral on a moving train.” Silence is consent. Injustice prevails when good people say nothing, yada yada. So it’s the Tattered Cover’s turn to step up to what is everyone’s responsibility. OD invited the Tattered Cover to sign a letter rescinding their support for the inhumane ordinance, but the Tattered Cover’s owner held to her obstinence. She was confident that her customers would have sympathy for her business’s precarious balancing act with the community’s unchristian conservatives. If the Tattered Cover wants to put business over doing the right thing, OD concluded that a boycott could provide the commensurate incentive.

A boycott strategy has worked twice before on this campaign. Actually, boycotts and pickets seldom fail. The global have-nots owe everything to street protest. Grown prosperous, middle America has been shorn of this wisdom. Most Americans do not know what protest is about, thus Friday nights in downtown Denver are also a teaching moment for Occupy. Pardon the inconvenience people of Denver, you’re welcome.

To be fair, for the uninitiated, protests are a messy, noisy thing.

As this Friday evening progressed, occupiers suspected the police were going to make an issue of the serenading, it was self-evidently less melodious than the previous weeks. Earlier we noticed officers dispatched in pairs into multiple directions seeking interviewees from among our audience. But we did not expect a DPD delegation to descend upon us at troop strengh. We began shouting down the DPD as their commander shouted “Can everybody hear me?” What authority had officers to interrupt our constitutional right to assemble? It is amply documented that when activists attempt to interrupt the meetings of others, with Occupy’s “mic check” for example, we are escorted from the room with rough haste.

In Occupy’s defense Friday night, we didn’t submit ourselves to being lectured about “what you are free to do etc, etc.” We knew our rights. We also suspected a noise complaint before the hour of 10pm was of dubious legitimacy. We did however accept an abridgement of our free speech, for the sake of, let’s call it, detente. Because it was dark and we were outnumbered.

A few Occupiers were not happy about being made to relinquish megaphones and drums on the trumped-up premise of signed noise complaints. The officers had obviously solicited the complaints; they had not been dispatched in response to any. Some Occupy wild cannons threatened to upset our disarmament truce. Our hushed reproaches become the next inadvertent impediment to regaining a chant momentum.

In debriefing it was agreed that the more impertinent among us are precious resources Occupy should not make a habit of quashing. When demonstrator numbers are enough to effect unarrests, we’ll have occasion to reject civil liberty infringing ultimatums and encourage the pushing of limits beyond the habitual collective consensus comfort level. This security culture indiscretion about protest strategy is tendered here as an encoded call to action.

BUT SERIOUSLY, what do you make of the Denver Police Department’s exagerated show of numbers at the Friday night action? It was the usual DPD MO in the heydays of Occupy, and it’s what they are throwing now at the Anonymous “Every 5th” resurgence, but what about OD’s campaign -to repeal the Urban Camping Ban- could have provoked a law enforcement surge aimed at its decisive truncation?

WHO KNEW a picket of such limited scope could draw such ire. We aren’t threatening Capitalism or banks or energy infrastructure, or DPD’s favorite, FTP.

However hypocritical and exceptionalist the Tattered Cover is behaving, I don’t believe they requested DPD’s move. But I don’t doubt the Downtown Business Partnership is fearful that the famed independent bookstore might cave to protester demands at which point the DBP’s mandate will lose its liberal cover. They know the inevitability of boycott victories, they’re business people.

Occupy Denver hits the Terrible Twos!

LOOK OUT DENVER! There was no birthday cake this year for Occupy Denver, though the second annual #S17 OWS anniversary celebration did not go unmarked. Subgroup offshoots of Denver’s notorietous Occupy deployed themselves with the usual rowdy spirit. Denver Homeless Out Loud, advocates for the homeless where traditional “advocate” kapos leave off, defied the city’s no-sleep no-shelter ordinance by setting up tents on the eve of S17. Police kept the activists awake all night and forbid them to enter the tents, but the encampment hung on until morning for a scheduled solidarity action. At noon Colorado Foreclosure Resistance picketed the offices of Castle Law Group, responsible for 90% of the state’s foreclosures. Occupiers moved on to protest the Westin’s Palm Restaurant (Boycott the Palm) for its stand on criminalizing Denver’s poor. Other Occupiers couldn’t join in because they were in Boulder organizing Occupy Flood Relief. Armed with megaphones, drums, the capability to mobilize at often a moment’s notice, and an attenuation level pegged at disruptive, Occupy Denver acts every bit its age, prepare for it Denver, a year of the terrible twos. Happy Birthday Occupy!

What Does Democracy Look Like? Not likely the Old Testament Thank You

I attended Occupy Denver’s forum “What Does Democracy Look Like?” this weekend to hear activist scholars of considerable repute throw in their two cents. The first day was a splendid gathering, except where a curated discussion of intentional community lapsed into theology. Yes, a distillation of mostly white reform literature (Fanon was dismissed as wayward) yielded three steps for The Way Forward: Egypt, Exodus and the Promised Land. Yep.

By which he meant: 1) Recognize your enslavement, 2) have the courage to leave all for an uncertain fate in the desert, and 3) seek/develop/discover your own promised land.

Even as metaphor it’s embarassing. Enlightened salvation from Old Testament mythology? No thank you, and for that matter, up yours! Unfortunately the language I used was less restrained, but his religious offensiveness had been compounding. He’d begun his presentation admonishing listeners that transformation begins with the self and so he’d already unmasked himself as spiritual. Worse, a monotheist.

Egypt: I’ll come back to “systems of oppression” in a moment.

The Exodus: a myth, it didn’t happen, even Hebrew scholars now agree with the historical and archeological records.

As to the Promised Land: that was a real estate scheme to backdate a deed, offered as divinely conceived proof of landlordship. The same title is being waived around to dispossess Palestinians today.

But really, isn’t the exodus-to-promised-land malarkey at the very foundation of Western Civilization’s expansion problem?! Are we really all entitled to virgin land? As if earth hasn’t been continuously and fully inhabited since before agrarian civilization, before monotheism was conceived to impose inequity, and justify slave-wages, interest and rent. The craddle of exploitation, that was Egypt.

But can we run from Egypt? The remedy staring us in the face, from which common men are deliberatly destracted, conspiring to emancipate Egypt, is to rid ourselves of the oppressor sociopaths. In practical terms understood more clearly by the better educated before us, we must strangle Egypt’s kings with the entrails of its priests.

I don’t care how academic your garb, when you tell your flock to reapply themselves to the sacred, and your “sacred” is biblical, supposing to transcend nature, you’re a priest.

Thank you WDDLL organizers but I do not go to church and I resent when devious means are employed to bring it to me. Actually those priests are the worst, they’re missionaries! If we’ve learned one thing as we discuss mankind’s break from his mille millenia of sustainable existance, resist the colonizer. Conquored peoples ourselves, we can only wish that indigenous peoples could have given Western missionaries the reception they deserved, and it’s no less true today: fire.

Alas as a result I heard a number of attendees today praise their faith. To each his own, but unhelpful. If you have to evangelize you’re a liability because nonsense is infectuous, especially as education levels recede. Can others entrust you with the battleplan while you commune with the adversary?

There’s a wonderful scene in AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, Werner Herzog’s dramatic depiction of conquistadors wreaking havoc in the Amazon. Following a coup among the greedy Spaniards, the wife of the abruptly deposed leader appeals to the mission’s priest, as her last resort to restore order. The priest, her ally only moments before, turns on her thus: “Her ladyship must know that the church always stands on the side of the strong.”

Target of Occupy Denver boycott expects DPD to roll protesters like they’re homeless sleepers

Snooze Jon Schlegel
DENVER, COLORADO- Downtown eatery co-owner Jon Schlegel thought the homeless were defenseless when he led an effort to criminalize sleeping or seeking shelter out-of-doors last year. Instead Schlegel incurred the wrath of Occupy Denver, who’ve maintained a now seven-month long Boycott Snooze protest opposite his trendy restaurant. Yes it’s personal, Schlegel opened SNOOZE in a depressed area adjacent to a homeless shelter, now he wants to gentrify his digs by running out the homeless. So every Sunday occupiers bring signs to sway potential customers from supporting Snooze’s war on the homeless, and every Sunday Schlegel calls the police. But there have been no charges, officers remind Occupiers they are within their rights, yet Snoozegoers are treated to the illusion that the boycott’s legality may be borderline. You know, it’s that phony paradox promoted by our corporate media, that free speech means having to tolerate another’s opinion however offensive. (When free speech offends you, you are likely the offender being protested.) The real question is how Denver Police justify juxtaposing their intimidating armed presence against a citizen’s First Amendment rights.

UltraLeftism fails to revitalize May Day in America, or to revitalize the Occupy Movement either

Pity the poor Occupy Movement, as Establishment liberal types, Ron Paul Right Wingers, and now Ultraleftists all try out the shortcomings of their own models of disorganization and find them all to be totally lacking. Yesterday on May Day the UltraLeftists had their turn to further disorganize Occupy, as they called for a ‘general strike’ with their own subjective desires as the only ‘force’ actually desiring to go into any battle. The result? Nobody but the Black Bloc really had ‘a good time’, …plus a few riot cops with their Darth Vader inspired weoponry in hand.

Here’s the problem, Gents of the UltraLeft. To actually build a real General Strike you have to patiently organize The People and not just call a ‘strike’ all alone in your own pitifully small name. Do that alone, and you will hardly even get out a respectfully numbered May Day ‘celebration’. People will simply ignore you and go about their personal business. You will have organized nothing.

Like it or not, UltraLefts, but the general body politic has decided to sit out YET another selection year of the ruling class, and to massively and passively watch the results once again of this charade. It will take more than your mere bravado to move them into any gear other than their passivity.

The ‘general stike’ of Colorado could be seen in Denver Occupy, as one of the local Colorado Springs’ Ron Paulers, ‘Joel’, did his usual incoherent jig on the live feed. Message? ‘God Bless America’… Pity the poor Occupy Movement with ‘organizers’ such as ‘Joel’ and the young and stupid ‘Black Bloc nincompoops as so-called ‘leaders’.

What a silly circus the Occupy Movement has now degenerated itself into. The masses are not yet moving and will not be moved behind a ‘movement’ that declares itself to be leaderless.

Racist Florida cops refuse to arrest Black teenager’s gun loving killer

Racist Florida cops refuse to arrest Black teenager’s gun loving killer even when they have witnesses that say he was murdered in cold blood. See Witness Speaks Out In Trayvon Martin Case … We in the general public need to stop these soldiers, cops, and Right Wing gun toting thugs from receiving total impunity when they commit their crimes.

Occupy Denver next Saturday will be having a demonstration against cop brutality there, and all of us need to show up and express our outrage at how military and cops are given special license that allows them to go out and commit crimes at will. The cop loving killer of Trayvon Martin named George Zimmerman needs to be brought to justice, and we should all be calling for him be arrested immediately for what he did…. which was to murder a young man because Zimmerman simply thought him ‘suspicious’ due to him being a Black teenager. Also hear the chilling 911 calls (Teen shooting 911 calls 1-3) made by neighbors, one of which where we can hear the victim screaming for help from someone that might save his life.

For more info about this racist police injustice see Witness in Trayvon Martin murder fingers police Further rallies against this Florida police irresponsibility probably will begin to occur nationwide.