Denver Direct: More #OccupyDenver

Friday, October 14, 2011

More #OccupyDenver

It’s been quite a week, what with Rep. Wes McKinley up from Cokedale (near Trinidad) to spend 3 days with Occupy Denver. He sleeps outdoors a lot, living the life of ranching, trail rides, and the great southeastern plains of Colorado, so he was right at home. He also spent quite a bit of time behind the scene arranging for the #OccupyDenver open letter to be delivered to the Governor’s office (successful) and trying to get the State Patrol to arrange for porta-potties (unsuccessful).

Moi? Not so much with the camping thing. I lasted one night, but the reality was that I had to get back to edit the day’s takes. Footage was stacking up at this one-man show. (I need an intern or another fool willing to work for nothing – send resume to [email protected]).

I learned about the Governor’s press conference (above) just an hour before it started. I had to park 5 blocks away from the Capitol, as the lots and streets were packed. I huffed and puffed my way along as fast as my new titanium hip would allow, and finally arrived, the press conference in progress. I had to flash my Capitol press name plate three times, but finally was allowed into the packed room, a large office with a staging area and with room for about 5 reporters, which meant the 25 of us were standing anywhere we could fit.

Hickenlooper made a number of points (I feel your pain but I have to think of the liability) and Hancock said ditto using language that indicates he thinks the city belongs to him. Attorney General John Suthers was there to read the ordinance.

I went down to the site immediately after the press conference. Upon learning of the 11 pm curfew and impending eviction, the tension level of the crowd went up a notch. One crazy got a little crazier, and another crazy who was “security” had to be brought under control himself by another “security” person who wasn’t crazy.

Later, at about 8:00 pm I assembled great internet coverage of the “action” on my computer. I had two overlaping video shots of the east side of Broadway in the sign waving area. A wide shot from the Denver Post building and a close up provided by Kudos to 9 for an excellent picture and for not talking all the time. The interviews were of interest however, especially the point about the Right to Free Speech and Assembly taking precedence over all state, city, and local law, including but not limited to curfews and tent pitching restrictions. I guess if money is free speech, tent-pitching should qualify.

In addition, I had the Twitter feed running – great stuff with participants at all locations of police staging and prep, as well as scanner monitoring – coming in at about 5 per minute. I also found Mike Rosen at KOA doing a live audio feed from the site. The 4 track total immersion kept me going until 4 am.

Then, further explanation from Hickenlooper today:

DENVER — Friday, Oct. 14. 2011 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today released this statement about the events last night in Lincoln Park in downtown Denver:

“The First Amendment and the rights it guarantees for free speech and assembly are critical to our democracy. These rights are what set the United States above all other nations. We also have rules and laws that must be followed.
“Demonstrators in Lincoln Park were told every day this week they could not camp in the park. Yet each day the number of tents grew. Last night, and after multiple requests to follow the law, the Colorado State Patrol intervened. State troopers and Denver police demonstrated extreme restraint and professionalism as they encountered a very difficult situation.
“We owe the Colorado State Patrol a great deal of gratitude for their work. We also greatly appreciate the efforts by state employees from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Department of Personnel and Administration, as well as the support from the Denver Police Department and Xcel Energy.
“Some people are finding it easy today to criticize the state’s response this week to what is a national movement in many cities across the country. There were numerous jurisdictional and legal issues to work through before a clear course of action could be set. For example, the state does not have a jail nor does the state have direct prosecutorial authority for park violations. We needed the cooperation of other entities and wanted to be very deliberate and thorough in our response.
“In the end, we worked with Occupy Denver to find a resolution that included constructive communication, many people voluntarily leaving the park, no violence and minimal arrests.
“We understand the frustration voiced by demonstrators about the economy, the loss of jobs and dysfunction in Washington. That’s why we are intently focused on economic development in Colorado. Just this week the state saw two global companies make significant investments in Colorado that will add jobs and momentum to business development efforts happening throughout the state.
“This kind of economic news doesn’t solve all of the issues raised by demonstrators this week, but it does show we all want the same thing: a healthy America where everyone can prosper.”

What will be the result of Hickenlooper’s decision to boot Occupy Denver out? We’ll just have to wait and see.