At Occupy Denver this afternoon, police moved in in force, in riot/SWAT gear, and used rubber bullets, billyclubs, pepper balls, pepper spray, and mace to "disperse" protesters who had occupied the very public--and ironically named--Civic Center Park. More than 200 police officers, and 30 police vehicles, had laid siege to the occupiers by 5:00 p.m.
A 2,000-strong group of marchers had circled back to the park, but the police had other ideas of how this day would go:
At about 3:30 p.m., the first round of violent interaction occurred on the side of the park opposite the tents. Officers moved in on the gathering with rubber bullet guns already out and pointed -- an increase in aggression compared to the beginnings of previous demonstrations. As protesters grouped to shout chants at the cops and form a barrier between the officers and the camp, police opened fire on the group and openly sprayed tear gas at any occupiers standing in the way. One protester, Andrew Cleres, was shot from a tree with an entire round of rubber bullets while taking photos of the scene.
"Then they fight you":
Update: 20 arrested, multiple people injured, including Phillip Becerra, who was shot in the face with "pepper bullets" as he stood up after washing tear gas out of his eyes:
During a particularly poignant moment of the evening, Occupy Denver was separated by a police barricade from the Bill of Rights, which was printed on a poster and attached to a wooden stand as a symbol for the camp.
Quick note: Thor Heyerdal, commenting in another diary, noted Colorado's history with state police violently suppressing unarmed protest--in the Ludlow, and much less well known Columbine Mine Massacres. In the Columbine Mine Massacre (November 21, 1927), the Colorado Rangers--a specially re-formed state police sent to suppress the miners' strike at Columbine Mine near Leadville--blocked the path of marching striking miners, opened fire with tear gas, and then used machine guns to slaughter six miners.
The head of the Colorado Rangers shouted to the miners: "Who are your leaders?"
The reply: "We're all leaders."
We're all leaders.
8:03 PM PT: Wow, first rec ever--sorry it's on such a bummer of a topic.
Here's the number for Governor John Hickenlooper: 303-866-2471
Here's the number for Mayor Michael Hancock: 720-865-9000
Here's one for Denver's Manager of Safety: 720-913-6020
Feel free to call and register your opinion: so far, at least, they can't club, shoot, or mace you through the telephone lines...
Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 8:58 AM PT: Update (with picture above): 20 people arrested, multiple injured; police spokesman congratulates the "remarkable restraint" shown by officers.