DENVER (CBS4) – The city of Denver is firing back against a lawsuit claiming it is treating Occupy Denver protesters unfairly.
The city moved in for the first time Wednesday to clean up the site in Civic Center Park. For the past 2 months the park has been home to the Denver chapter of the national protest and it has taken its toll.
Cleaning crews moved in and protesters moved out — at least for a while. Trash and debris were removed and the sidewalk and plaza were scrubbed down with a power washer.
Many of the occupiers voluntarily moved back where it started 2 months ago on the Capitol side of Broadway.
Lindy Eichenbaum Lent is the executive director of the Civic Center Conservancy, a nonprofit group partnered with the city to restore and enhance the park.
“What we are seeing is vandalism, infrastructure damage; problems that I’m sure were unanticipated by well-intentioned demonstrators,” Eichenbaum Lent said.
They are consequences that need to be taken into account. The protest has left its mark on the park in more ways than one. It comes after a $9.5 million sprucing up this summer.
The city has made life more difficult for the demonstrators by ticketing cars that stop to give donations, even citing those that honk.
“They upright arrest you if you do something wrong,” demonstrator Mark Schachter said.
Attorney David Lane has filed a lawsuit against the city in federal court.
“When they are giving out tickets to people who are driving by Occupy Denver, honking their horn, they’re doing it in retaliation for First Amendment-protected speech,” Lane said.
In a response to the court the city claims the lawsuit aims to require the city to stop enforcing longstanding laws. It adds it has allowed and even facilitated First Amendment activities, so long as the conduct is reasonable and peaceful.
It all goes to federal court Monday where the protesters will ask a judge for an order limiting the enforcement of laws they claim are being used to harass them.