Police Tear Down Tents, Occupy Denver Protesters Arrested
DENVER (CBS4)- Police in riot gear cleared out Occupy Denver protesters from the park across from the state Capitol at about 6:30 a.m. Friday. Some protesters who refused to leave were taken away in what appeared to be handcuffs. Twenty-three people were arrested.
About 3 hours earlier, police started clearing out protesters who had camped in Civic Center Park overnight. At about 3:20 a.m. Friday they were given an ultimatum to pack up and leave.
PHOTO GALLERY: Occupy Denver
Police ordered the crowd to disperse at 6:20 a.m. Friday. They said they want to keep the standoff between protesters and police peaceful, but told demonstrators they would be arrested if they did not leave.
Copter4 flew over the area near the state Capitol at about 6:30 a.m. Friday. It looked as though police were trying to remove some individual protesters, and some were taken away in large trucks.
Police in Denver, decked out in riot gear, moved in to clear the campers from the park located across the street from the state Capitol.
Protesters continued to gather in and around the park after the tents were torn down. Some attempted to reconstruct their camping spaces, but police promptly took them down once again. The last of the tents were torn down at 7 a.m.
Watch Evrod Cassimy’s report on the the protesters returning:
Watch Stan Bush’s report on the protesters in court:
Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered Veteran’s Park closed until further notice. The Executive Order was issued to allow authorities to completely clear the area and allow crews to clean up the area.
The Colorado State Patrol worked with Denver Police to keep crowds under control. They said they are pleased with the progress to clear protesters from the park.
“Last night I think was a great success for us. It was the State Patrol and everyone involved. Many of the Occupy Denver participants left before the 11 p.m. curfew as we suggested,” Sgt. Mike Baker with the Colorado State patrol
“We appreciate the cooperation of those individuals who chose to exit the park prior to 11 p.m.,” said Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol.
The crowd started to get rowdy after dark Thursday evening when they received word that police would try to round up the protesters.
“I do not hate them for what they did. They simply did their job and very well. They didn’t hurt anybody. Arrests were minimal,” Neal Minter with Occupy Denver said.
Mayor Michael Hancock released a statement saying he commends the Denver Police Department and Colorado State Patrol for their professionalism throughout this operation.
On Thursday, Colorado State Troopers said they will enforce the 11 p.m. curfew. That means all of the tents and other structures must come down by that deadline.
There were street closures surrounding the state Capitol early Friday morning, including Lincoln from Colfax to 14th and 14th from Bannock to Lincoln. Police said those closures would remain through the morning commute depending on when crowds would be completely dispersed. All streets reopened by 8 a.m.
Protesters cannot camp in the park, which is state property. They must vacate the space between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
A news conference planned for outside the state Capitol at 9:30 p.m. Thursday had to be moved inside for the safety of the media and state troopers. Protesters pounded on the doors to get in.
A spokesperson for the Department of Personnel and Administration said they have a facilities maintenance group that takes care of the grounds.
The arrested protesters were in court on Friday. Robert Corry is an attorney representing most of the arrested protestors. He calls the arrests ironic. If the government wanted to quiet down to protests, they failed.
‘By arresting these people, by bringing in riot clad officers the eyes of the world as they never were before and never would have been had it been allowed to peter itself out,” Corry said.
Protestors say Hickenlooper’s decision to remove the rally is the harshest treatment the groups have seen. They say that’s put a national focus on Occupy Denver, making standing strong even more important to their cause.
‘America’s upset. We’re seeing the things that are happening. Our country is going in a direction we’re not happy with,” a protester said.
Occupy Denver set up camp last week. The movement started in New York with people protesting Wall Street greed. The crowd has grown considerably since Monday. There were more than 70 tents with dozens of protesters. They are vowing not to leave without a fight and claim it is their First Amendment right to gather and protest in a peaceful manner. The planned an even larger event for Wednesday night.
“We do know that people are going to come twice as many tonight becauyse they’ve seen what has happened. We’re getting support from New York, we’re getting support from the entire world with what is happeneing,” protester Chelsea Champ-Lopez said.