Occupy Denver

Saturday night I went down to the capital building to the Occupy Denver protest.  Denver is one of over 1500 cities showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.

Saturday afternoon there was a march on the state capital.  4000-5000 people joined together to march down 16th street.  I couldn’t get down there in time for the march, but I went with C and Manuel, my mom’s husband, to join the few hundred remaining protesters around 6:00pm.

I’ve never been to anything like this.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is a peaceful protest, but the Denver police department and Colorado state patrol lined the streets in full riot gear.

As we walked down Broadway from Colfax, the citizens started moving into the street, chanting “Police are the 99 percent!” and the police line backed up.  I got chills.  I was almost moved to tears, and I wished I had my camera ready to get that on video.

We spent some time walking around among the protesters.  We got a lot of warnings to “get that baby out of here, before they gas us.”  One guy warned us that we were taking her into a “really volatile area.”  I have to admit, after the third or fourth such warning, I was a bit intimidated.

Manuel shot a few videos with his phone and in one, you could hear a citizen shouting, “They have automatic weapons.  Why do they need automatic weapons?”  I was glad to be there and also nervous.  I wonder just how far we are entrenched in this bizarre culture of fear. In reality, it really was pretty calm.

Rick and my mom were watching the news reports, and the police began making arrests.  Around 6:30 we saw two people getting arrested for “blocking traffic.”  Odd since the police were the ones in the streets, and the street was completely shut down anyway.  The citizens stayed on the sidewalks and in the park for the most part.  And after reading a few news stories I realized just how much is sensationalized.

The whole time we were there, we didn’t hear any people shouting “shame” at the police.  We did however hear chants and shouts of “Protect the kitchen!” when the protestors gathered around the food tent, linking arms, to keep it from being trampled to the ground.  And chants of “Peaceful. Peaceful.” as the police formed lines and advanced on the group in the park.

We stayed until about 7:30pm when we saw several more police vehicles show up followed by a couple of ambulances.  The police had formed lines, seven or eight officers deep and started advancing on the crowd.  As Manuel and I walked back to the car, I stopped and asked an officer on the fringe of things why they were in such heavy gear and out in such force for a peaceful protest (hey, I figured they wouldn’t arrest or pepper spray a lady with a baby strapped to her).  The officers were polite, and explained their position (you know, being prepared, just in case, and all that).  Of course they are just doing their jobs.

I realize that attending a protest for just an hour and  a half, and leaving when things start to get heated totally makes me the diet soda of protesters.  But it was more than nothing, and I plan to go back in the very near future without Cora.  I still won’t be able to stay – she is breastfeeding and I can only be away for so long.  But I plan to keep showing my support in little bites and chunks as I can.

There are probably a lot of people like me that might want to stand up, but for some reason they can’t be at the protest (or like me, have little kids and may not want them in such a charged environment).  Here are a few simple things that anyone can do to help, without attending a rally:

  • Close your bank account with a large bank and open an account with your local credit union instead.
  • Buy local or handmade items for all your holiday gifts, or better yet, make gifts yourself using locally sourced materials.
  • Buy your food at a farmers market instead of from big corporations.
  • Make your own food at home instead of going out or buying it in a box (granola is just oatmeal, honey, oil and nuts baked in the oven – this is a great alternative to cereal).
  • Gardeners, buy non-GMO seeds from seed companies not owned by Monsanto.  Here is a decent list of which are safe and which to avoid.
  • Sign a petition online or in person.
  • Donate supplies to your local Occupation.
  • Donate money to the cause.
  • Spread the word.  Facebook, Twitter, email, telephone, blogging, whatever!
  • Pay in cash!  Credit only helps serve big banks.

I also realized that a lot of people still don’t understand what Occupy Wall Street is all about.  And why would I be posting this on my homesteading blog?  Food Democracy Now posted that,

4 firms control 84% of beef packing, 66% of pork production and 1 company (Monsanto) controls more than 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn grown in the U.S.

Occupy Wall Street will affect us all.  Here are a few good articles that might help in understanding what the Occupation is all about:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-keith-ellison/occupy-wall-streets-real-_b_1009368.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1

http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/the-most-important-thing-in-the-world?utm_source=wkly20111014&utm_medium=yesemail&utm_campaign=mrKlein

Or simply…

Now is the time.  Spread the word.

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Categories: Community, Recommended Reading | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Occupy Denver

  1. Danielle Schriner

    Hey Anisa,

    Thank you for posting this information. I, like many others I’m sure, didn’t know much about this, besides what little I’ve heard through the media (which really isn’t much of anything useful). I admire that you are providing information, rather than just speaking your opinion. Education is the best tool. After reading the articles you’ve posted, I see that this is definitely something I can and should get behind, I have already sent out an email forwarding these links. I will continue to follow this and who knows, maybe find myself marching some day soon! Thanks again!!

  2. Cynthia in Denver

    Anisa,
    As a cop, allow me to enlighten your readers on the law enforcement presence you described. While most protests are meant to be peaceful, look how often peaceful protests get hijacked by hoodlums who go only to cause trouble an d have no interest in the movement. Thse people have thrown molotov cocktails at officers and protesters. They rob, burglarize, steal, and
    assault. They set cars and businesses on fire. Not the ligitimate protesters, but the hoodlums. We protect the right to protest, but prepare to defend against violence. We hope protests go peaceful and well; that the protective gear was all for naught, but I have no desire to get caught short when/if someone throws a bottle at my face. People don’t set out t

  3. Cynthia in Denver

    Oops.. Got cut off. Anyway,, bottom line: hope for the best but prepare for the worst. As fully as you described how those officers were dressed, I wished you would have also fully provided the officers’ explanation rather than the passing lip service. Hopefully, my explanation from a peace officers stance was helpful. Yes, we know we are the 99%. Nobody has to tell us that. We’ve had pay cuts, benefit cuts and layoffs too. There is no such thing as overtime pay even though I work 10-16 hour days investigating crimes due to shortages because of layoffs. We go to court on days off and vacation time without compensation. I don’t get extra pay for working
    on xmas or thksgiving like many regular folks. If I’m a bit lengthy, it is perhaps I feel this posting is attacking me and my kind without due diligence and I hope to set the record straight.

    • Thanks for your comments Cynthia! Unfortunately the officer I spoke with only gave *me* lip service – otherwise I would have posted more. I have total respect for the officers down there. They are doing their jobs regardless if they want to be there or not and they are protecting everyone. I actually don’t even use the word “cop” because I think it’s disrespectful (though maybe it’s not). And of course, if I were an officer, or if my husband was, I’d want all that gear on too – you never know about people. One of the officers actually said that they were hot – it was 85 the day we were down there and he told me he had a bullet proof vest on under the riot vest. Whew!

      I have to say though, from a citizens perspective, it *was* intimidating to see all those officers out there in full gear with more coming in as it got darker. I think there is a weird culture of fear at protests. The police are prepared for the worst, the people get intimidated, and though no one wants anything bad to happen, it feels like something might at any minute. I know that the protestors were all afraid of getting gassed. I’m only assuming the officers were afraid of getting rushed or something thrown at them.

      I’m very sorry if you felt attacked by my post. That, of course, was not my intention. More so, it was my intention to present a perspective different than the one portrayed by the media here. I know the food tent got knocked down the night I was there, and I know the protestors were trying to remain peaceful throughout, even though they were asked to leave the park. I took video of the officers advancing on the tent while the people chanted “peaceful” over and over. – I didn’t post it because I was eager to share my experience and it would’ve taken about three hours to upload my 30-40 second video, that was shot near dark, so it’s crappy quality. This doesn’t make the officers bad or wrong. But, I hope by mentioning it to illustrate that the protestors were remaining peaceful, despite media portrayals.

      My MIL asked me about my experience down there the next day and after I told her, she said that wasn’t was *she* heard on the news – as if that was the final word on it – what the news reporter said. Which was nothing like what I saw. The media is seriously hurting the Occupy cause, and most people don’t even have an idea of what it’s about. They are continually making the protestors out to be violent and villainous, or lazy, jobless college students. Corporate America (who owns our news) doesn’t want the majority of American to know what the cause is – they are afraid of the 99%.

      My intention was not to portray the officers as the villains. They are certainly working hard to enforce the laws put upon us all as safely as possible. And they, and you, ARE the 99% – working so much harder than any fat cat or politician without the recognition you [all] deserve. Which includes financial recognition. You SHOULD be paid for overtime and holidays. You should have amazing health care benefits. You should not be the first departments cut while the congress votes themselves another pay raise. You are why people are occupying.

      I fully apologize that you felt attacked. Thank you for commenting and sharing your side of things. I hope my intentions were cleared up a bit too.

  4. Cynthia in Denver

    Thanks for communicating!

    Don’t worry about “cop” as a title. It is rich in history. Technically it means constable on patrol. In the 20s & 30s the term “copper” referenced the badges worn because they were made from copper!

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