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Occupy Denver Protesters Say Police Are Going Too Far

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An officer using pepper spray on the crowd (credit: CBS)

An officer using pepper spray on the crowd (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – It was a weekend of protests, arrests and heated confrontations between Occupy Denver and police. Police say they’re enforcing city law. Occupy members say the officers are going too far.

Saturday night police arrested 17 people. On Sunday they arrested another three for assaulting and interfering with police officers. The dispute centers on occupiers putting up tables on the sidewalk in front of Civic Center Park. Police say that is illegal.

Denver police are drawing a line in the park and having little tolerance for anything that’s against the law. CBS4’s Howard Nathan talked about police enforcing the removal of all personal items. When they did it on Sunday the crowd grew hostile and police responded with pepper spray.

During a skirmish, police say a state trooper was hit in the head and a Denver officer twisted a knee.

“We have two that are hurt. A State Patrol officer was hit in the head and he suffered injuries. We have another officer who has a twisted knee at this point,” Sonny Jackson with Denver police said. “It’s getting to become more and more of a dangerous situation.”

Extra police were called when a Denver officer tried to drive away with a table that had been confiscated moments earlier.

“No one claimed the table so officers took the table, put it in a car. The officer tried to drive away but somebody got in front of the car. Officers said, ‘Would you move?’ The individual chose not to move,” Jackson said. “They got in front of the car and began rocking the car; they were going to tip her car over. She called for help and officers responded so we could get her car out of the crowd.”

Police took the table used to serve food, citing a law that says items on the sidewalk are a public safety hazard.

“This morning we were told that we could have a food table,” protester Jeannie Hartley said. “They just came in and took the food table. This proves the point that I said to you earlier. The game has changed. They’re simply just trying to stop this movement. It doesn’t have anything to do with just cleaning out a park.”

An angry crowd responded by taunting police. But within the Occupy Denver movement, some object to taunting the police.

“We have to show that we are not going to be verbally abusive or violent in any sort of way verbally or physically,” Rod Zee with Occupy Denver said.

Meanwhile, hardcore Occupy Denver members show no signs of quitting.

“There will be, there will be, intense, intense, days ahead,” a protester said.

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