DENVER (AP) — An Occupy Denver protester testified Monday that a city police officer pepper-sprayed and taunted her before she was arrested.
Amberlynn Restorick gave her account during a federal court hearing on a lawsuit accusing Denver police and city officials of trying to suppress the protests in violation of the First Amendment.
Plaintiffs want the judge to issue an injunction stopping arrests and alleged harassment.
Restorick said she was pepper-sprayed in the face on Oct. 15 as she sat on the ground, and a police officer leaned down and asked, “‘Are you guys having fun now?'”
“I feel like I’m being completely criminalized for exercising my rights,” she said.
Restorick said her wrists were bound so tightly that she has lost some feeling in her left thumb and had to wear a splint for a couple of weeks. She said doctors say it could be up to 18 months before she’s completely healed.
Restorick was arrested on charges of obstructing a street and disobeying an officer. She denied the charges and is due in court Jan. 20.
Other Occupy Denver supporters testified that police ticketed them for honking their car horns in support of demonstrators or using no-stopping or no-parking zones to drop off supplies.
Natalie Wyatt was arrested on Nov. 21 on a charge of disturbing the peace for blowing a handheld air horn from the passenger side of a car.
Assistant city attorney Wendy Shea said the horn was extremely loud. Protester Robert Schultz, who said he witnessed Wyatt blowing the horn, described the noise as “dainty.”
Shultz was ticketed for riding his bike on a sidewalk as he tried to film Wyatt being ticketed. Both tickets were later dropped as was another issued to Daniel Garcia for honking his horn.
All three testified Monday that they have returned to the protests but haven’t been there as much after being cited.
Denver police patrol Division Chief David Quinones testified there was no change in police enforcement policies before the Occupy Denver protest began.
During cross-examination, attorney David Lane repeatedly asked Quinones how much discretion officers are given, and what Quinones would have done if he had been present. Quinones usually answered that he couldn’t say without having been there.
During testimony by Terri Cook, deputy administrator for the county court, Lane pointed out that Mayor Michael Hancock held three or four campaign events in the spring called “honk and wave,” where Hancock stood on the corner with signs and waved as motorists were encouraged to honk in support.
Cook said no one was ticketed for honking on the days of those events.
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