Top

blog

Stories

 

Occupy Denver: ACLU investigates constitutionality and safety of police action

phillip becerra 2.jpg
Phillip Becerra.
Colorado ACLU communications director Rosemary Harris Lytle confirms her organization has launched an investigation of "an escalation of police force" at Occupy Denver -- like, for example, the shooting of Phillip Becarra, seen here, with pepper bullets. The ACLU has expressed concerns about both the safety and constitutional implications of the actions officers have taken. Meanwhile, occupiers have collected police-interaction evidence since the group's first eviction.

Although early dealings between police and occupiers were politely hailed as good behavior from both sides, recent developments have earned shocked attention from representatives of the ACLU, who cite the First Amendment rights at stake in the movement.

"We have been collecting some of the news reports, video that's been online and reports from participants and legal observers, and we're concerned that what has initially been characterized as a policy of admirable restraint now appears to have been transformed into an unwise series of provocative and dangerous tactics," says Mark Silverstein, legal director of the Colorado ACLU. "I think police commanders made a serious mistake sending a huge riot-equipped team into a crowd to enforce a minor ordinance regarding tents. There's no immediate health and safety need to take down these tents, and we have to question whether it's appropriate, safe and constitutional to even do so."

andrew wound.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Andrew Cleres was wounded by police after being shot out of a tree with pepper bullets.
The evidence-collection process is an ongoing one. For weeks now, Occupy Denver's legal team has gathered and documented reports of force at the hands of both the Colorado State Patrol and the Denver Police Department: pepper bullet wounds, bruises from police batons, evidence of too-tight zip-ties, hospitalization records and stories of the situations behind them. The occupation's internal legal team hopes to use the evidence in an eventual class-action lawsuit against the city, but the documentation remained on ice pending attention from a larger entity.

"We have been collecting all of our evidence and signing documents that this has been happening since the night of the eviction," legal team member Catherine Keffer says. "We've had contact with the ACLU, and they've been aware of the situation the entire time, but it was yesterday that they called us to tell us of the potential possibility of a lawsuit coming out of all of it."

Since the ACLU's involvement began in a more official capacity yesterday evening, the organization has filed record requests with both the DPD and the CSP regarding all recent enforcement actions with Occupy Denver. Because of open record laws, Silverstein expects results by Friday. In the meantime, the group is also encouraging participants to send information and documentation of police interaction to the ACLU.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
11 comments
Samwoodberry2006
Samwoodberry2006

I know you conservatives have a hard time grasping any concept not dumbed down to a 2nd grade level and repeated at you over and over.  I think the point our friend was trying to make is that corporations own our government because there are no limits on soft money donations to political campaigns.  So, if corporations can use their extensive, mostly stolen wealth to run our government, ignoring the destruction of our planet for the express gains of the one percent  (the ceo's of said corporations and their friends,) maybe a tent is also ok as a way of making a point, since us 99% don't have unlimited wealth to manipulate the system.  Get it stupid?

RTGolden
RTGolden

A tent is not protected free speech.  What point is it trying to make?  If the point is " I can defy a city ordinance and camp in a park where camping is prohibited. ", the speech is still not protected.  The ACLU needs to back up, sit down and re-think this one.  Occupiers all over the country have been pushing and pushing against city ordinances, relying on Constitutional First Amendment protection.  Try reading the rest of the damn document.  Like the part about those powers not reserved herein for the federal government are assigned to the respective states, or the people.  The states, in turn, grant their cities authority to make laws necessary to maintain public order.  One of those laws, or ordinances, prohibits camping in city parks.  Ergo, camping in a city-owned park is not protected free speech, it is a violation of the law.

Phil
Phil

OH MY GOD...  Have you ever seen "How Not To Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police." Chris Rock... These people are anarchists and want nothing more than to make the police look like ass holes and to have the ACLU back a 1,000,000 case against the City… Because their "mommy" and "daddy" lost their 401K's to another group of ass holes that should be the ones getting their ass kicked.  I'm sorry, but you have lost the initiative... You have no defined mission…leader or goals…  Now these people sit in the park because they lost their free ride.  GO GET A JOB...BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION...NOT THE PROBLEM!!  I wonder how much money this is costing the City and County of Denver in overtime alone..?  Take a shower, get a haircut, get a job...(They are out there) and try...just try and give back to society...something... Thanks… Phil (Oh... and BTW... a tent is not free speech...unless it has words on it...This is called trespassing.  Try and take a look at OUR Constitution and then try and read Colorado Revised Statutes for the definitions and laws…)

American
American

The guy that knocked over the motorcycle was not put in jail? He was seen on the evening news (channel 7) back at the park. Why would the cops just let him go while they arrest folks for petty nothings? He was also seen earlier On the capital steps yelling at the calm state patrol. He was seen with bloody make up on. I think it is worth asking who that guy was. agent provoceteur?

Rick and Alice
Rick and Alice

I Stand with YOU!  99 percent all the way!  Good Luck Guys

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The deliberate (and/or incompetent) misuse of non-lethal weapons last Saturday calls into doubt the training and leadership of the DPD.  Based on its demonstrated misuse of all weapons, most of the department should be disarmed and only selected officers allowed to carry weapons of any sort.  The indiscriminant use of force against persons not even involved in the tug-of-war with police or civil disobedience of any kind last Saturday is proof positive that the department has serious, systemic problems.  Denver cannot afford to keep paying for the consequences of not properly training its officers, much less those of directing officers to attempt to suppress civil rights.  Before people condone what the DPD just did, they should consider what the likely consequences are going to be for taxpayers in the all-too-near future.

Guest
Guest

Surely if money is considered a form of free speech, then tents are a form of free speech too since it takes money to buy a tent.

Threedodgenight
Threedodgenight

most likely because of the fact that the cop hit the guy with the bike also running over his. over his foot. Then after the the guy got mad ,shoved the trunk of the bike,then the cop jump off of it dropping it ,ran after the grinding along with three other cops on his back his face into ground all on video. I watched the whole thing from start to finish. I agree why did they not press charges after he got out  of the hospital? 

Debekniss
Debekniss

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...  ask yourself why the police would have motorcyles go into a crowd if not to make it worst? There were plenty of police bicycles and foot police there already. Also note the motorcyle ran over the mans foot you can see it in the link I provided. I say the push was a natural instinct. Now regardless of bloody make up you claim, do you have a link to prove your point? And my point is Free Speech is the American way even if you don't like it you can't censor it. That would be living in a Dictorship. Gov Hickenlooper is the problem for this going out of control with the police, there was no problems till he choose to step on peoples rights to peaceful protest. And they are protesting for many who are not able to be there and I am proud of them all. Besides I have seen that cop on the motorcycle on the 16th street mall he has a attitude problem and should have never rode his bike on the grass with so many people in peaceful protest. Hickenloopers action are going to get someone killed and that is outragous and people should let him know it is WRONG and so is he. 

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...