Huffpost Denver

#OccupyDenver Drafts Open Letter To Gov. Hickenlooper To Request Permission To Continue Camping (UPDATE)

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OCCUPYDENVER LETTER TO HICKENLOOPER
AP/OccupyDenver

Occupy Denver has published an open letter to Governor Hickenlooper challenging the governor’s controversial statements about wanting to shut down Occupy Denver’s tent city at the Capitol building.

His words, which erupted in a massive backlash from supporters of the Occupy Denver movement on Facebook and Twitter generating many comments on Hickenlooper’s Facebook page alone, may have inadvertently galvanized an already growing and energized Occupy Denver movement.

UPDATE:

The offices of Gov. Hickenlooper and Mayor Hancock released a statement this evening regarding the Occupy Denver protest:

The Occupy Denver protesters are on State property. The State and City are working together to find a solution that balances Occupy Denver’s First Amendment rights with growing concerns around public safety and public health in violation of city ordinance and state law.

EARLIER:

Today at 1 p.m. organizers from Occupy Denver hand delivered the open letter to the governor and his representatives to request a waiver that will permit the encampment to continue stating:

We respectfully request that your administration honor our constitutional right to peaceable assembly: we are formally requesting a variance or waiver pursuant to the municipal code of the City and County of Denver and Colorado state law that would allow us to continue occupying the park area surrounding Veteran’s Memorial.

In the letter the occupiers even ask that the Governor and members of his administration to visit the movement at the Capitol and attend one of the General Assembly meetings at the campsite.

It all started on Tuesday when Hickenlooper made an appearance on conservative radio host Mike Rosen’s show on KOA stating publicly that he wants the occupiers gone. On Rosen’s show, Hickenlooper responded to a question about the state telling occupants of tent city that they were violating the law, to which the governor replied:

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. We don't have a jail to put them in and we haven't been able to find a way that the city, that the district attorney will prosecute.

The governor also attempted to defend the protester's rights to gather peaceably:

As we say this, let me be clear though, whatever they are protesting, we have always supported the First Amendment.

Hickenlooper said in the KOA interview that he was concerned that if the Occupy Denver tent city was allowed to remain, then it could lead to multiple tent cities across Colorado.

In their letter, Occupy Denver responds directly to the governor’s concerns:

Governor Hickenlooper—there are already multiple tent cities across Colorado—the only difference is that ours isn’t hidden from the general public. If you are truly concerned about the precedent set by our occupation, we invite you to work with us to create a Colorado in which tent cities are no longer a necessity.

In a press release that accompanies the letter to Hickenlooper, Occupy Denver states that the occupation, now in its 20th day, gathers hundreds of protesters during the daytime and drawing over 1,000 concerned citizens of the Denver-area to march in protest on Saturdays between 12-3 PM. The occupation includes a health code-compliant free-standing kitchen that serves snacks and hot meals 24-hours a day, a fully-stocked and staffed medical tent, and a trained security team that patrols for trouble and communicates by radio around the clock.

Read the letter in its entirety below, from OccupyDenver.org:

OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER

Dear Governor Hickenlooper,

As you are already aware, several members of the Occupy Denver movement have constructed a tent city in the park area surrounding Veteran’s Memorial. We are non-violent. We utilize a non-hierarchical, democratic, decision making process. We are organized. We respect our state park as our home, as it currently is our home.

We will ensure that the park remains an open and welcoming space to the General Public and citizenry of Colorado.

Our tents are a symbol. We are here to draw attention to the injustice of corporate sovereignty over modern life.

We respectfully request that your administration honor our constitutional right to peaceable assembly: we are formally requesting a variance or waiver pursuant to the municipal code of the City and County of Denver and Colorado state law that would allow us to continue occupying the park area surrounding Veteran’s Memorial.

Tuesday, October 11 on KOA you stated, “we have always supported the First Amendment,” and that you are worried about the precedent set by our tent city, because it could lead to multiple tent cities across Colorado.

Governor Hickenlooper—there are already multiple tent cities across Colorado—the only difference is that ours isn’t hidden from the general public. If you are truly concerned about the precedent set by our occupation, we invite you to work with us to create a Colorado in which tent cities are no longer a necessity.

We, the people of Colorado, have no proper institutional forum to organize and address the issues that confront us. As such, the tent city that we have constructed serves not only as a symbol, but a forum in which to organize, voice our concerns, and demonstrate solidarity with our under-represented brothers and sisters across The United States of America.

If you have concerns of public safety or health, we invite you to work with us to ensure that we have adequately addressed public safety and health issues.

If you have other questions, concerns, or requests, we invite you and members of your administration to join us at one of our General Assemblies to address them. Our General Assemblies are held daily at 3pm or 7pm.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration of this matter.

With Sincere Regards,
Occupy Denver General Assembly
(ratified 3pm & 7pm)
10/11/2011

LISTEN to the Hickenlooper radio segment, via 850 KOA (skip ahead to about 13:00 to hear the governor)

Also on The Huffington Post

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