Now home to hundreds of supporters of the Occupy Denver movement, Civic Center Park is sprouting a multitude of tents and, as of this morning on conservative KOA host Mike Rosen's show, Governor Hickenlooper has publicly stated that he wants them gone.
On Rosen's show, Hickenlooper was asked if the state had told protestors that campers were violating the law. The governor responded:
We’ve absolutely told them that. You can’t stay here. About six years ago, five years ago, we had a group that wanted to do a tent city to dramatize the situation of homelessness. We told them, 'It's unsafe... If we let you do it, we have to let everyone else do it'.
...we'd like them to leave every night by, like, nine o'clock, and then come back at, say, 6:30.
The Governor added that he is worried about setting a precedent allowing people to camp in parks without rules, but that he hasn't drawn a line in the sand for protestors yet because it's "not a burgeoning metropolis."
However as of Tuesday afternoon, the movement has garnered at least 40 tents and the Colorado State Patrol has yet to announce plans to remove them.
Occupy Denver's Facebook page responded hours later:
Hickenlooper wants us gone! Come down to the occupation ASAP for a march over to talk to him! 2:30. We're not going anywhere!
The reaction on Twitter and Facebook to the Governor’s statements from the Denver occupiers has been overwhelmingly critical. Hickenlooper’s Facebook page has been flooded with angry and disappointed comments. At the time of publication there were well over 100 comments on the governor’s page alone.
Many like Dakota Lee Payton brought up the political risks of evicting this peaceful demonstration:
As governor you should decide what is best for the people of Colorado correct? By trying to enforce the removal of the Occupy Denver movement, that is not listening to the voice of the people. How to you plan on winning votes in the future by doing such a thing? Do you realize that over 9,000 people (9,744 exactly) support the occupy Denver movement. This is only 2 and a half weeks into the movement... realize by stopping the protest in Denver you may lose the 9,744 votes, the people who don't have a Facebook who support the movement,as well as the uninformed who will later learn about the movement?
Not is it only morally wrong, but against the constitution.
Catherine Lavender reminded the governor of his background and the legacy of Edward Wynkoop:
I met you long before you entered politics, and you impressed me as a thoughtful man for celebrating the legacy of Edward Wynkoop. Wynkoop was a man who stood for what he believed in -- for justice, for fairness, for what was right. I hope that you will live up to his example by remembering Occupy Denver's constitutional rights to free speech and peaceable assembly, represented by the Occupy Denver encampment. Peace and Justice for my home state of Colorado. Be brave and be right.
Some like Ariana Oppegard even called out the Governor to join the protesters on the ground:
Mr. Governor, I urge you not only to allow the peaceful protesters on Denver's capitol to remain, but to commend and join us. As liberals, we must stand in solidarity against the forces who wish to corrupt and tarnish our nation's ideals. The voices of the 99% are spreading in strength and numbers, please align yours. Thank you.
And on Twitter and the blogosphere the reaction was similar with supporters of the #OccupyDenver movement posting Hickenlopper’s office phone number asking people to make a call to the governor and express their solidarity.
Others called on Hickenlooper to look towards Mayor Bloomberg’s reasonable stance on letting the Wall Street protesters remain “indefinitely” in the park as long as they abide by the law.
So far, as of Wednesday morning, the protesters remained at the Capitol building’s tent city. In fact, they have several peaceful events scheduled for the day that seem well-timed given Hickenlooper's reaction. There is a calming Yoga and stretching class at 9:30 a.m. and then a discussion about how fear-based thinking impacts our physical, intellectual and emotional well-being at noon, and more discussions rolling throughout the day.
A call to the Denver Mayor's office was not immediately returned.
LISTEN to the radio segment, via 850 KOA (skip ahead to about 13:00 to hear the governor)