Occupy Denver: Ideological split spurs idea for Liberate Denver to fight oppression

Categories: Activism, News

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Recent divisions inside Occupy Denver have led to the ideological creation of Liberate Denver, a related but completely separate entity much like the Thunderdome. Although the idea has spread through the ranks for a while, it solidified on Sunday afternoon during a general assembly devoted to how the group handles violence. In the meantime, it has taken to Twitter.

Right now, Liberate Denver remains mostly an idea, but occupiers have consistently proven that ideas, though tough to control, are powerful in this movement. A handful of members are working to establish regular space and time for the second entity, which was inspired by issues of violence and patriarchy within the ranks and is targeted toward starting over, this time united against those issues.

"Changing the world takes time," says Kerri Kellerman, a Thunderdomer volunteer who supports the concept of Liberate Denver but also remains a part of Occupy Denver. "The movement is young, and right now the entire community is detoxing from this capitalism as a whole. So we're dealing with these huge growing pains of violence and assault and misogyny and these other internal issues, just like all of the movements are."

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Jenn Wohletz
Occupy Denver protesters gather for a weekend general assembly.
A recent example of friction occurred during Saturday's regularly scheduled march. While about 1,200 people took to the street at noon, a handful of its members took to boogying along the way. The group periodically spread an American flag on the ground to dance on top of it, throwing glitter as they did so. Since then, the action has come under question from some Occupy Denver members who claim it disrespects the flag and draws negative attention, while others support the expression of free speech. A few detractors, however, became aggressive: Former Occupy Denver protester and current Liberate Denver supporter Josie (last name withheld) was verbally assaulted and called a bitch by a man who opposed the dance.

The action, and the reaction from group members who discussed it Sunday night, led in part to Josie's decision to disassociate herself from Occupy Denver and focus on Liberate Denver, a new group that had been tossed around in conversation. The goal is for Liberate Denver to eradicate any class division, patriarchy and culture of infighting that Occupy Denver might currently sustain.

"Women and transgendered people are marginalized here and treated as 23rd-class citizens inside the movement," Kellerman says. "People here want change for themselves, but right now it doesn't feel like they want equality. We have homeless people and addicts and tweakers just like every other group does, and we have to support all of our members equally."

This division between groups is one of the main reasons behind Liberate Denver's ideological inception. Its supporters, a couple of whom have cut ties to Occupy Denver, are focused on creating what's been described as a "safer space for all voices"

"Since #occupydenver refuses to adopt a culture of liberation rooted in anti-oppression, then it is time to create a new space," one Twitter user writes.

Although no solid plans have been announced for the new entity, a Twitter account (with zero followers) has been created for the account @liberatedenver, and the hashtag is spreading through the site.

"It's a great idea, but it hasn't started quite yet," Kellerman says. "We could still follow Occupy Wall Street and just call it Liberate Denver. It doesn't matter what it's called, just what it stands for: complete social equality and a lack of oppression."

To read Tweets using the hashtag and get a better understanding of the ideas behind Liberate Denver, continue to the next page.

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Just using the word "bitch" is derogatory. I don't know the back story behind any of this, but saying that someone doesn't have to "be a bitch about it" is oppressive.


"In the time that I spent at Occupy Denver I never felt more oppressed than I did when Josie and her little minions showed up."  Ain't that the truth!  These people spew hate then accuse others of being "hateful".  If you look at the couple behind it and know them, you'll see that their egos permeate everything that they do.  They want to be seen as controversial, subculture, leaders and their willing to be as hateful and divisive as necessary in order to feed their vanity.


This article really stretches the truth in a lot of ways.  Josie was never verbally assaulted.  She was told repeatedly that her actions were representing the movement in a way that would alienate the mainstream.  She copped an attitude and someone said to her "Well, you don't have to be a bitch about it."  Her response was to throw glitter into his eyes, physically harming him.  

In the time that I spent at Occupy Denver I never felt more oppressed than I did when Josie and her little minions showed up.  They use intimidation to promote aggressive tactics that get moderate people hurt.  Instead of sitting around reaping what they have sown, they run off with the excuse that they had to work the legal lines.  

Considering how dismissive they have been of the oppression of people who's narratives don't match theirs, I sincerely doubt that Liberate Denver will achieve much in regards to creating a safe space for all.  If anything, they are simply going to marginalize themselves further.

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