Debate on Saturday's escalation among police and Occupy Denver protester relations spilled into the national discussion as reports of police firing pepper spray and pepper bullets into the crowd surfaced. The mass arrests were featured on Current TV's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann", the Washington Post, and in The New York Times.
Protesters were marching toward the Capitol and others were re-attempting encampment when it was put to an end by mace, pepper bullets and handcuffs.
On Monday Olbermann reviewed the clash in Civic Center Park with Occupy Denver media coordinator Jeannie Hartley.
"I saw tear gas being dispersed, I saw rubber pellets, these pepper spray pellets being shot into the crowd towards people that from my vision were not being unruly," Hartley told Olbermann. "To be fair, I couldn't see everything that was going on everywhere. But from where I was standing, the people were not being unruly at all. We'd had a perfectly peaceful march, a perfectly peaceful rally, and it turned into something much worse."
More than 20 people were arrested on Saturday and on Halloween, protesters were confronted by 21 police cars when they tried to enter a Denver City Council meeting. A small group of protesters were allowed in the City and Council building while others waited outside as cop cars drove up to prepare for possible altercations.
Lt. Matt Murray has defended the presence of police telling Westword, "We're very reactive, and we're trying to be prepared every time."
On Saturday, most of the arrests were in response to protesters who allegedly kicked police and and pushed one officer off his motorcycle, Murray said.
However Hartley iterated to Olbermann in her interview, that Denver's police force is prepared to the extent of intimidation.
It was extraordinary the amount of police force that were present before anything that was, by their definition I'm guessing, "unruly." I mean the governor complained a week or so before that we cost $365,000 to the City of Denver. It was his decision to release that mass of force to be available in the park. It's my understanding that he's claiming now that the cost was $500,000. They had hundreds of police force, Keith, surrounding a food table. Hundreds of them. In riot gear. This was an unnecessary expense to Denver by far.
Saturday's clash caused several protesters to go to the hospital for injuries like pepper bullets shot in their face, which though non-lethal, can cause very painful injuries when shot in close range.
"People are in the streets because of injustice, so for the police force to inflict more injustice upon us is not going to make us leave the streets - it's going to make more people come into the streets," Hartley said.
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