Occupy Denver is preparing for the onslaught of winter in Mile High City and has gathered more than 10,000 signatures with hopes to stop the arrests at the park and allow for overnight camping to resume without the threat of arrest.
In a press release, Occupy Denver states:
We would like to draw to the state's attention, that as promised, we have obtained over 10,000 signatures on the petition to end arrests at Occupy Denver. We urge the city council to pass a resolution of solidarity with the Occupy Denver movement, and to push the Mayor and Governor to allow us to occupy throughout the winter. We urge the Mayor to grant a waiver of city ordinance to Occupy Denver members to allow us to resume our occupation without arrest.
The occupiers tent city was torn down during the weekend of Oct. 15 with nearly two dozen arrests over that weekend. Now with the arrival of freezing temperatures and snow in Denver, the protesters are faced with the the threat of both continued arrests if they occupy the park overnight and the potential for negative health issues in choosing to stay without the ability to use appropriate protection from the winter conditions.
As the Associated Press reported many protesters are still camping under tarps and heavy blankets, two were already treated for hypothermia as of Wednesday, during Denver's first snow, but there is a long winter ahead in Colorado. One protester, Shannon Garcia, who is currently three months pregnant, said this to the Associated Press:
I'm freaking out a little bit, of course. Everybody here takes care of everybody, so I have no doubt that if things get really bad for me, I'll be safe.
Occupy Denver made this statement about the cold conditions and their resolve to continue the fight on their Facebook page late Tuesday night as the temperatures began to drop near the 30s in Denver:
It is a rough night for occupy denver team 24/7 tonight. Tarps, waterproof blankets and bedding, cold weather clothing, all could help them. Despite the cold tomorrow, we will be doing non-violent protest training at 2pm and 4pm at Civic Center park.
Tim Holland, also known as Sole, a Denver-based hip-hop artist and Occupy Denver protester spoke to the Huffington Post about the occupiers concern for one another as winter sets in, "The weather is obviously a serious issue that we will have to contend with, it goes without saying that sleeping unprotected on the sidewalks will not be sufficient for the occupation moving into the winter."
In the first minute of the Occupy Denver video below (scroll down for video), an occupier named Corey Donahue speaks to the seriousness of the situation downtown, "People will die in this winter, in this occupation, if we don't have shelter. People aren't going to go some place else, we are going to be right here because we chose to make a stand right here."
In an effort to stop the non-violent protester arrests, Occupy Denver also cites the increasing costs that the city has to incur for maintaining a police force at the park in their press release. Since the Occupy Denver protests began more than three weeks ago, the City of Denver has spent nearly $400,000 on security for the demonstrations, 9News reports.
Read the entire Occupy Denver statement below, via OccupyDenver.org:
OCCUPY DENVER REQUESTS SOLIDARITY FROM CITY COUNCIL, PRESENTS OVER 10,000 PETITION SIGNATURES.
Over the past few days the city has issued its initial price tag for Occupy Denver. They say they spent an exorbitant amount, over $365,000. That is enough money to put most of the homeless folk that they forcibly evicted from the "tent city" in condos for a year and still have money left over to provide Occupy Denver with electricity, portapotties, and heat for the winter. At the very least, that money could have been used for creating jobs or community building. According to Mayor Hancock’s office, the money was allocated as follows: Denver Police Department - $237,000. Denver Sheriff's Department - $116,000. Denver Health - $10,000. Public Works - $1,300 Environmental Health - $500. We are told that the tents were taken down for safety reasons and that they set a dangerous precedent. We are concerned about the safety of the homeless population as well as the Occupiers as winter encroaches. We question the state’s demands for “safety” as we recall a massive police presence, and the treatment of non-violent protesters over the last week, and many others who find themselves without a safe place to sleep at night.
This week it was announced that the Mayor seeks to ban all downtown camping. Currently, the 16th St. Mall is one of the few places in the city where homeless people can legally sleep from 9pm-7am without risking arrest. This ban will make the lives of Denver’s homeless even more difficult. The mayor says, “We only have one downtown. We must protect the vitality of our downtown, the city core.” Occupy Denver is in full agreement with this statement. We must protect our city core, which as we know, consists of many homeless veterans and other citizens who have nowhere else to go. We are also comprised of those who continue to occupy the downtown area in solidarity with the global Occupy movement. Placing a ban on “downtown camping” would attempt to hammer the final nail into the coffin of the Occupy movement in Denver, by making it illegal for anyone to sleep on a sidewalk, which is where the Occupy Denver exiles are currently situated. Mayor Hancock's website states, "He believes in bringing different groups together to find common-sense solutions to complicated challenges, and he believes that by working together we can build on our past and create a world-class city of tomorrow, because We are all Denver." We invite the mayor to follow through with his commitment to find a common sense solution to this complicated challenge, by addressing his concerns directly with Occupy Denver. This is not a debate over tents. We are focused on being allowed a platform by which we may legally express our grievances.
With this in mind, we would like to draw to the state’s attention, that as promised, we have obtained over 10,000 signatures on the petition to end arrests at Occupy Denver. We urge the city council to pass a resolution of solidarity with the Occupy Denver movement, and to push the Mayor and Governor to allow us to occupy throughout the winter. We urge the Mayor to grant a waiver of city ordinance to Occupy Denver members to allow us to resume our occupation without arrest.
Let us help you. We are all the 99%. By working with us on these issues you will have the support of the people. When this occupation movement succeeds, corporations will be paying their fair share of tax revenue, generating more income for state infrastructure, education, and policies to improve the quality of life for all Coloradans. This protest, this Occupation, is an act of free speech and peaceable assembly, protected by the United States Constitution, and the First Amendment has no curfew. In Los Angeles, the Mayor passed out ponchos to occupiers and the homeless. Hundreds of police officers in Albany refused orders to dismantle the Occupation in upstate New York. Many other cities have given up on trying to suppress this movement by force, we urge Denver to follow suit.
Occupy Denver is holding a rally & march this Saturday October 29th, 12PM @ The Civic Center Park. Join us.