Occupy Denver and the Colorado Progressive Coalition take on Wells Fargo, Tom Donohue
Occupy Denver and the Colorado Progressive Coalition combined forces for a civil disobedience tour de force today, with events taking on both Tom Donohue, the president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, and Wells Fargo.
The only problem: The police got there first. Both times.
All week, the CPC has organized a series of events under the umbrella title Mile-High Showdown. The six-day protest shares ties to Occupy Denver and ends on Saturday with a joint rally in support of the occupation. The group's numbers have grown incrementally at each event, CPC community organizer Brooke Shannon says, culminating in its largest gathering yet at today's march to banking behemoth Wells Fargo.
"It was an organic decision to combine with each other as far as our energies," Shannon says. "We have the same exact ideals, tactics and enemies. We want to make Wall Street pay all of us back down on Main Street."
But first, the afternoon began with a luncheon: By the time Mile-High protesters arrived to add their numbers to the Occupy Denver group challenging Donohue at his speech for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, police had already removed the smaller gathering from the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Its goal was to question the big-business supporter while standing in solidarity against his status as a member of the 1 percent, and it managed to do so only during his photo shoot and then again as his limo left the area.
Kelsey Whipple Protesters shout anti-corporate banking chants at police from outside Wells Fargo.
"We see him as the epitome of corporate greed, and we want him to know that we're here and we demand change for the next generation," Occupy protester Erika Kessler-Ison says. Behind her, others shouted "Thomas J. Donohue, we've got the dope on you!"
"We walked past him as we were escorted out of his photo session, and we asked him about money and politics and greed," Kessler-Ison added. "He ignored us."
Organizers called the police the moment the group made it inside the center's ballroom, and online attention such as the Facebook and other social media shout-outs both events received created advance warning for the cops. "About a dozen people came in and tried to harass him while we were escorting him in, but it lasted only about five minutes," said a Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry events assistant who asked not to be named.
From there, the protest escalated in both size and police attention. The small Occupy Denver group met up with the larger Mile-High Showdown gathering for a seventy-person march from 13th and Arapahoe to the downtown Wells Fargo on Broadway to draw further attention to the division between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. As the group marched, rhyming chants drew attention from shoppers and employees on smoke breaks, who stopped to take photos of the progression.
"We've worked a lot with people going through struggles with Wells Fargo and other financial institutions that no longer accurately represent the 1 percent," Shannon says. "I was talking to someone whose interest rate had increased from 6 to 29 percent overnight. We decided to take a stand but have fun with at the same time, and we had all prepared extensively for the potential to be arrested."