The tactics used by the state and city to disperse, discourage or shut down the Occupy Denver movement only seem to be making the protesters more determined and their numbers larger.
It was a monumental weekend for Occupy Denver. In the early morning hours of Friday, they were forcibly removed from Lincoln Park by police in riot gear and have been indefinitely kept from gathering at their former main campsite since. Nearly two dozen were arrested, according to The Associated Press.
What could have derailed a movement that had been gaining momentum during its more than three week existence in Denver did the exact opposite -- it energized the protesters. As evidenced by Occupy Denver’s largest protest march to date on Saturday. The Denver Post estimated at least 2,000 demonstrators marched on Saturday while Occupy Denver’s Facebook page estimated 4,000 to 5,000 were in attendance. Saturday's march also led to more clashes with police and another 25 protesters were arrested.
A smaller group of several hundred gathered in Civic Center Park on Sunday and did not block any streets or clash with Denver police which had led to the arrests earlier in the weekend, 7News reports.
Now on Monday, Occupy Denver is trying to reach a deal with Mayor Hancock’s and Governor Hickenlooper’s offices that would allow them to remain at Civic Center Park indefinitely, Fox31 reports. The members of Occupy Denver are requesting portable toilets and cooking stations in the park.
And Hickenlooper's office may be the only reliable place for protesters to reach the governor now. At the time of publishing on Monday, Facebook users can no longer leave a message on Hickenlooper's Facebook page, the "Post" function has been disabled. Supporters of the downtown occupation continue to comment on unrelated posts, but the free form posting on the governor's Facebook wall, which over the last couple of weeks had become a lively forum for Occupy Denver supporters to leave messages for the governor expressing their discontent with the governor's and mayor's treatment of the protesters, is gone as are the posts that were left. (UPDATE: As of Monday afternoon, Hickenlooper's Facebook page "Post" function has been turned back on.)
A call to the governor's office Monday morning as to why the "Post" function was disabled was not immediately returned.
Even pro bono legal support for those that have been arrested in Denver has surfaced. The Denver Post reports that more than 20 lawyers have volunteered their services to arrested protesters.
Occupy Denver has also started a petition on their website to encourage Gov. Hickenlooper to stop the arrests of the Occupy Denver members so they can gather and express their First Amendment rights peacefully. 9News reports that it is becoming expensive for law enforcement to maintain a larger than normal police operation at the park. It’s not clear how much tax dollars are going to funding a police presence around the Denver protesters, but in other cities like New York it costs police 80,000 a day.
Watch police spraying Occupy Denver protesters on Saturday night - [via OccupyDenver.org, WARNING: Strong language audible in video]: