Occupy Denver: Five people hospitalized for exposure to the cold

occupy snow bike.jpg
Update, 3:11 p.m. October 26: Occupy Denver's most recent report, via its Twitter account, is that a total of five people have been hospitalized within the past day.

The group is urging people to contact Mayor Michael Hancock's office to advocate on behalf of protesters using tents to stay warm in Civic Center Park.

Original post: After sleeping in the season's first major snowfall, two Occupy Denver protesters were hospitalized overnight due to exposure. Although the low temperature was augmented by frequent coffee and cocoa donations and the camp's entire supply of tarps and blankets, it proved too much for the two, who were taken to Denver Health when they became ill from the cold.

One of the hospitalized volunteers suffers from diabetes, which contributed to the condition. "It was just too cold for them to stay outside in this weather," volunteer Neil Therrell says. "It was tough for the rest of us, but we made it through."

occupy snow wakeup.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Two occupiers wake up surrounded by snow in front of Civic Center Park.
The scene as the protesters woke up under tarps covered in snow this morning featured a smaller gathering than usual. A decrease in size could also decrease public attention for the occupation, if fewer people are physically occupying. "Our size already decreased from eighty to twenty overnight," Therrell says. "People don't want to or can't handle this cold. I'm not worried about maintaining a presence, though, because I know that people will stay if they care. And we care."

Craftier protesters have made use of donated plastic grocery bags as guards to keep water from infiltrating their shoes, but dry socks are a rarity. One activist held up a sign this morning asking for donated dry socks, but the poster's thin green marker lines were quickly eclipsed by the snow.

occupy snow thunderdome.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Occupy Denver's kitchen, the Thunderdome, is covered by tarps to protect food items from the weather.
The group is currently out of propane used to heat things on its camping stove, and donations of Starbucks quickly turn cold outdoors. Groups are gathering to decide which donated items are recoverable after damage from the snow, and while the plan fluctuates back and forth on the issue of tents, this morning's weather has established them as a necessity despite police interaction like the one last night, volunteers say.

"In other cities, occupations have put up tents over and over, as many as three or five times, and the police stop messing with them and realize they need them, it seems," Therrell says. "We just have to keep asking for tents and then setting them up because we can't risk extreme exposure to the elements."

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver clashes with police (again) over tents raised for cold weather (PHOTOS)."

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8 comments
Charlene
Charlene

If they need to stay warm tell them to go to their own home at night & come back in the morning.

John Thomas
John Thomas

Dear Mayor Hancock: Please allow the Occupy Denver protestors to have tents. It is cold, and there is a significant amount of snow on the ground. I know that you would prefer these people leave the park, but they are not going to because occupying is too important to them. Please, please account for the reality of their situation rather than what you wish would happen.

If you can't manage to do this for them, at least do this for a reason you do care about: voters.

Do it for the people who voted you into office, do it for the people whose support you are losing daily, and do it for the people who want to believe that you are an actual Democrat, and who may vote for you next time. Disregarding your liberal base may not matter to you right this minute, but it will matter a great deal when you seek re-election.

Your refusal to allow the protestors tents to stay warm in this weather is causing harm to these people, and causing harm to your public perception. I wish you would relent for the first reason, but I would be right as rain if you did it for the second reason instead.

Thank you,

A concerned voter

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

Dear Mayor Hancock:  Please don't allow the semi-homeless folks trying to take occupy our  parks to stay under the pretense of a lost cause.  I know they would prefer to live in the park for free, but the rest of Denver would like to have a nice place to call our own, take walks in and enjoy the beauty of the snow on our taxpayer funded civic buildings.  They need to account for the reality of life, rather than what they wish would happen.

Please realize that they are a small but vocal percentage of the population of the city and county of Denver, and the rest of the voters really don't want them there.  

Please keep them out for the people who voted you into office.  Those of us who contribute to society, who pay taxes, work hard at our jobs, and save for the future.  Those of us who maybe sacrificed a little bit of craziness as teenagers so that we could focus on our studies to get into good schools, and had jobs in high school to save for college.  The majority of your liberal base believes in a functional safety net, but also believes in personal responsibility.  We depend on you to work with businesses to create good jobs that pay a sustainable wage.  We also believe that as the Mayor of this city it is your job to ensure that it's a pleasant place to live.  Having camping vagrants in the heart of the city is bad for everyone.  Please note that I'd like to see this continued at all times...there is no excuse for the park to be over run by drug dealers and other unsavory types at any time.  

Your refusal to allow the parks to become a homeless shelter is appreciated.  They have options, and living in the hear of the city is not a viable one.  Don't let them believe that you are doing harm to your public perception; the quiet and well behaved majority think that you have made the right call.  

Thank you,

A concerned voter. 

John Thomas
John Thomas

Dear Mayor Hancock,

It's true that some of the Occupy Denver protestors are homeless, or semi-homeless, but they are occupying Civic Center Park for a cause that they believe in, and please remember that one of the concepts our country was founded is that of civil disobedience. They are not out there, huddled in the cold to have a free home. They are choosing to demonstrate for a redress of grievances, and saving the now-snowed over grass from their footsteps is not as important as hearing and understanding their messages.

Please know that not all voters are not like Mr. NotWoofka, and he cannot speak for anyone but himself. Many supporters of Occupy Denver, like myself, have jobs, pay taxes, contribute to society, and have the same hopes, dreams and goals as the people who don't support the movement.

I agree with Mr. NotWoofka that it is your job to work with local businesses to create jobs that pay a sustainable wage. Please do this. Soon. Now would be great, too.

Although homelessness is an issue here in Denver that sorely needs to be addressed, please understand that this issue and the issue of the Occupy demonstrators are separate but equally important.

These people are not barbarians. I don't speak for all of them, but I seriously doubt that they are enjoying their occupation of the park right now. But they are still there. Please allow them to demonstrate their beliefs safely, with tents, and thank you.

A concerned voter who doesn't sip from the Tea Party kettle.

DorksRus
DorksRus

The place is a pig sty, regardless of what they are there for.

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

Totally agree.  I live just a couple of blocks from the park, and have walked through the protest pretty often.  About the only time that you see the homeless leaving is when the anarchists are stirring up trouble with the police...the homeless are smart enough to avoid getting arrested!

Guest
Guest

Some are homeless? No. MOST are homeless and simply using the OD 'camp' as a safe place to sleep and a place to get free food.

Don't believe me? Go down there for yourself at 8pm any night.

Guest
Guest

What a shame that the City and State don't realize the tents erected for symbolic speech could also be used as shelter.  Shame on the Mayor and Governor-the 1st Amendment doesn't have a curfew, gentlemen!

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