Tuesday, November 29, 2011

my trip to Occupy Denver


Jeff's 11-25,26-11 Occupy Denver Adventure


I went down about 1:30pm to the Denver Civic Center Park. There were no tents. Along the north-south sidewalk on the east side of the park were tarps, sometimes with people and supplies under them, sometimes looking like there must just be some supplies under them (like sleeping bag and such). There were maybe 40 people around the area but it was hard to tell who was an Occupier and who was just there. One guy had an "info" sign around his neck so I talked to him some. He
said the 3pm general assembly was normally about camp matters, while the 7pm GA was more about Occupy matters. I didn't make the 7pm GA, thnking I'd go to the Saturday one, but then it turned out they didn't have them on Saturdays, so I blew that.

The general look of the Occupy site in the park is that it is a bit haphazard, but that is probably due to the police having raided their encampment a few weeks earlier and taking their tents and cooking equipment. Along the north-south sidewalk by the road are maybe 15 to 20 tarps with what could be either people or supplies under them. This is where people sleep. There are two or three such tarp bundles across the street as well. Here and there are knots of people standing or sitting just talking together. People come and go constantly. The strong wind was blowing leaves up against the tarps, and now and then a cardboard sign into the street. A very few people would stand by the road with signs, so there is not much visible to show just what this group of people is there for. The eight or so police cars are right on the grass facing the occupiers, perhaps 50 feet away, scattered between the corners of the site. The police never seem to get out of their cars, and the cars are running. They are a total waste of taxpayer money.

I talked to a few of the Occupiers about how things are going. I'm guessing 20-30 people live there full-time, just based on the number of tarps. On Saturday I saw a couple move in with their own sleeping bags, so that was 2 more.

There were people from Occupy NYC, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, New York,
and me from Rapid City, all visiting and checking out the Denver situation. During the 3pm GA about 25 of us were in a circle, and the LA guy said he was there for any suggestions about
their upcoming explusion from in front of City Hall. The mayor there gave them a midnight Sunday night deadline to move. There weren't many suggestions offered at the circle. One drunk guy was there and kept trying to talk, but the "stacker" who handles the order of those who want to speak handled him well by talking to him. I suppose they deal with him once in a while so know how to handle him.

The GA lasted maybe 1/2 hour with not much being done except the outsiders saying why they were there. There were questions about the planned Children's Rally for the next day, such as whether they had supplies for sign making.

Not many people held signs on Friday. I talked to one woman who did. She comes down frequently, she said. While we were talking, a guy came up and wanted to donate some food and a sleeping bag he had brought. The other guys told him where he could temporarily park without being
ticketed, so a bunch of us went over and waited for him. He brought 8 boxes of canned food, beans, and such, plus a sub-zero sleeping bag that was set aside for a pregnant woman who was going to start Occupying. We took everything back to the park where it was partially distributed. They don't have a storage unit or anything, so one guy said he would eventually take stuff to a house nearby. Another older guy came by later and asked what they needed. I didn't follow that
conversation so don't know what they asked for.

All the time I was there Friday, there were police cars surrounding the Occupy area. On the park side were usually 4 city police cars, I think with just one policeman in each. Across the street on the state capitol property were usually 2 or 3 hghway patrol cars. These had 2 people in each. So, on average there were 8 such vehicles surrounding the Occupiers.


I got to the park about 11:30am for the noon rally. There seemed to be another event going on off to the side in the park. This turned out to be the ending of the first Children's Rally. I didn't ask how that went, but there were several children at the big rally.

About 250 people marched maybe a mile through downtown streets, the federal mint building being the midpoint. The Anarchists had a big black banner, and the official march banner was perhaps 4 feet by 30 feet, with Occupy Denver and other stuff on it. There were a few quick speeches, directions on who should walk in front (the banner and the children) and off we went. The police blocked traffic when we crossed a street corner, which was nice. Bicycle cops rode along on both side of the marchers. There was chanting most of the way, like "Who's Street? Our Street!" and "We are the 99 percent." There were plenty of signs, most crudely made though. My favorite was "The only hope for the future lies within the proles." I saw four official Guy Fawkes masks, only one of which was actually being worn. Later I asked one of the guys if he had protested with Anonymous against Scientology, since I had protested with them in Denver three times. He said "it's Anonymous, man." Oh well.

We stopped twice for speeches. Each time it was mostly kids who gave what might be called encouraging statements. They were cute but not too profound. They used a combination of bull horn and "mic check" so everyone would hear them.

The march concluded on the steps of the Capitol building, where adults gave speeches. One was about the congressional bill that would supposedly make it clear that corporations are not people. But the speaker stated that this was a flawed bill and needed to be amended. Another speaker talked about why Monsanto was supporting a bill in Colorado to legalize pot growing (so they could monopolize the market, of course). The speakers were long-winded and the audience was simply the protesters, so I went down to the street with my sign to picket. Another guy joined me, so we were the only ones on the street holding signs. We had a good conversation. He had been to most of the previous marches, including the one where the cops used violence. One guy asked for a ride, which my new friend offered to give, but then those people never came back. Another guy used my phone, but the number he had me dial was disconnected.

I left about 4pm again after finding out that there were no General Assemblies on Saturdays.

No comments: