Occupy Colorado Springs evicted by cops after mayor denies renewal of camping permit

Categories: Activism, News

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If you had to compare another Colorado occupation to that of Occupy Denver, Occupy Colorado Springs might provide one of the most stark contrasts. As of early this morning, however, both groups share recent and complete evictions off of city property.

Around 1 a.m., the Colorado Springs Police Department removed the group from its month-long home of Acacia Park.

Until midnight, the protesters' ability to legally camp in the park had been protected by a thirty-day temporary permit -- but Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach denied the group's application to renew it. Bach provided occupiers with a list of the six reasons behind his decision via a letter, but only one has made the open rounds so far: Monitoring the group's presence is too costly to the CSPD.

Early last night, city officials alerted police of the change in policy, and about twenty officers gathered at Acacia Park beginning at 10 p.m. An hour later, officers provided the approximately fifty protesters present with warning that they would have until 1 p.m. to remove all structures from the area.

Below is a video from KKTV 11's coverage of the event:

The legal use of the word "structures" is similar to the interpretation applied to Occupy Denver, where an igloo and stacked cardboard boxes have been categorized under the term. Although protesters removed other belongings, most left their tents in the area, at which point officers spent an hour and a half removing them after the two-hour warning period expired.

"In general, [occupiers] were nonviolent, just verbal and vocal with us," CSPD lieutenant Pat Rigdon says. "I think they see this as a denial of Constitutional rights by us, and they're free to feel that way. As the tents actually came down, it became a little more vocal to the point where there was a lot of obscene language used. But it did remain peaceful throughout the night."

A marked difference between this eviction in Colorado Springs and the two similar events in Denver is the lack of mass arrests. No protesters were taken into custody, Rigdon says, and by early this morning, only one protester had returned to the area. Given last night's eviction, officers plan to consistently monitor the park.

No conclusion has yet been reached concerning where Occupy Colorado Springs will relocate.

"The group always has the option of private property, if they can gain permission from an owner," Rigdon says. "Up until last night, the relationship between us and the occupiers had been fairly positive and open, and it seems that has changed a little bit overnight. They're a bit more opposed to us now than they were yesterday."

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: David Lane on city collusion denial, injunction over honks, donations & more."

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I've been down to the Occupy camp at Acacia Park on numerous occasions and there was no mess. They had set themselves up on the corner and stayed there. There was no garbage and there were no issues outside of tea party people coming around to scream at the Occupy protesters. Video of this is readily available on YouTube. The so-called "complaints" would have come from tea partiers (one by the name of "Mr. Clean" admitted as much on one of the videos). During an economic justice protest to save Social Security and Medicare on Nov. 17th, I'm told by friends who were downtown, that tea party people showed up with their Don't Tread flags and signs that read "Occupy funded by Nazis and Communists." As for businesses being affected - well, that's plain ignorant... as the activity in Acacia park was drawing people into downtown (me, for one). Poor Richards and Jose Muldoon's even posted notices indicating that #OWS protesters were welcome. The spirit of #OccupyWallStreet won't be going away because none of this is about health and safety, it's about squashing dissent.

Now get this (thanks to Occupy)

Our family will not be shopping on Black Friday. There will be no presents for anyone except the grandchildren who are age six and under. The rest of us, on the other hand, will be spending time together and donating the money we would normally spend on gifts to Occupy Denver instead. For Thanksgiving, we will be delivering boxes of Grabber MegaWarmers to our local Occupy groups to help keep them warm. Food will be delivered to the protesters wherever they may be. Furthermore, the kids’ toys will be purchased at Poor Richards across from Acacia park rather than at big box stores. Our payment will include a note that reads as follows: "We are shopping at this establishment in support of the #OccupyWallStreet movement. We are the 99%." Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas to #OWS and the 99%. This will be my approach to shopping not just on Christmas but from now on. I've had enough.

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