Occupy Denver: Biggest riot squad presence to date, pepper bullets, multiple arrests (PHOTOS)
Update, 11:01 p.m. October 29: Twenty people were arrested during what has been Occupy Denver's most violent day in weeks. All evidence of the Thunderdome and the front desk has been removed, and officers offered protesters the chance to claim their belongings one at a time as the area was cleared. Several protesters have made trips to the hospital for injuries, and one man, Phillip Becerra, was shot in the face with pepper bullets.
Becerra was injured on his face and neck during the afternoon's first outbreak away from the tents. Another protester was injured when a police motorcycle rolled over his foot. "They pepper sprayed me and I fell and then went to pour water on my face," says Becerra, who returned to the area later in the night. "When I got back up, I was shot in the face. I had to go to the hospital to have the wound treated."
Although parts of Broadway, 14th and Colfax were closed down for hours during the tense evening, traffic has now been reopened across the board. Five people were arrested during the initial outbreak, and fifteen earned arrests during the later part of the evening, adding an additional twenty to the 57 Occupy Denver-related arrests from previous occasions. Two of these arrests are reported to come with felony charges, while the rest, all misdemeanors, include two juvenile offenders. During a particularly poignant moment of the evening, Occupy Denver was separated by a police barricade from the Bill of Rights, which was printed on a poster and attached to a wooden stand as a symbol for the camp.
By 9 p.m., more police officers than protesters remained in the area, and a group of Hare Krishna followers, who had been dancing and singing during the heated events, served vegan food to those who remained. The situation died down quickly once the area was cleared of tents, the Thunderdome and the welcome area, and protesters organized the remaining salvageable items in addition to their belongings. Much of the material for the Thunderdome and the front desk was placed directly into a Public Works truck brought in to dispose of waste.
Kelsey Whipple Occupiers collect their belongings as the police clear the area.
"The entire situation adds attention to our cause and gives us a voice in all of this," says protester and Westword profile subject Matthew Velasquez. "The tension here today was incredible, and it's not going away anytime soon. We're not going away."
Page down to read our original post, complete with additional photos of the evening's events.