Occupy Denver's finance committee works toward nonprofit status

Categories: Activism, News

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In the wake of the largest upheaval in the occupation since its eviction from Lincoln Park, Occupy Denver's focus is firmly on taking the steps necessary to guarantee a safer and more permanent future.

One option the group recently voted to support is taking steps toward financial security by establishing the group as an official nonprofit. The process, though, is a lengthy one.

Since the most recent round of 23 arrests, the Thunderdome and the group's legal team, led by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, have severely diminished their resources by bailing out most of the arrestees so far. Even some of Occupy Denver's budget was allocated to bail fees this week, and with an almost weekly upgrade in the minimum bond rate per protester (this week it was $750), the regular distribution of funds puts a large strain on the occupation's finances.

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Kelsey Whipple
Occupy Denver's first all-day concert attracts a large crowd.
With the creation of the group's first finance committee and PayPal account, the goal was to organize all donations given to Occupy Denver and create budgets for how they are to be spent through the general assembly process. Last week, the GA took its stance one step further by voting to make Occupy Denver either a co-op or a nonprofit, though the second option is favored.

This step would add more stability and official oversight to the group's finances while perhaps making it more likely for people to donate to an institution whose paperwork has been documented and approved. Currently, on-site donations have been made more difficult through the police ticketing cars that stop temporarily in front of Broadway between Colfax and 14th.

"The treasury committee is looking to start a co-op and/or a 501(c)(3), and they're going to do things to make sure that we are self-sufficient and sustainable regarding all of our donations," says camp medic and longtime volunteer Patricia Hughes. "We would prefer not to have to rely on outside entities, and a tax exempt status would definitely help."

As of right now, no paperwork has been filed, but the group is in the process of researching and completing it. "While the headquarters is being taken care of, the committee is in the process of getting itself together," Hughes says. "They need the treasury committee to actually be fully functional before it can do anything, and we've been a bit slow-moving so far. The goal here is ultimate accountability and transparency across the board."

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Police start ticketing drivers who stop to donate in front of Civic Center Park."

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Can you stop saying that the DABC leads Occupy Denver's legal team.  It doesn't.  All the DABC does is encourage people to get into trouble and then bail them out.  Every time a certain person (cough*Corey Donahue*cough) gets arrested a lot of the people at the Occupation debate whether or not they should bail him out of jail.  It doesn't matter because DABC does it anyway and unleashes that nut job back on a group of people who are trying to affect change.  The DABC has also been fuzzy on their accounts.  They once told the GA that they were collecting money for members of Occupy Denver and made it sound as though these people were arrested for things related to the Occupation.  Turns out that they were squatters who didn't bother to tell anyone actually occupying about this wonderful, warm house that they had to squat in because it was so cold outside.  I guess they thought their "comrades" should just freeze.

Occupy Denver's actual legal team does actual legal things, like research injunctions and set up "know your rights" classes.  I've seen them attempt to talk down people who are breaking the law by putting up tents.  They act as legal observers and file paperwork.  They do the job of a real legal team.  All the DABC does is whine about how "oppressed" everyone is and encourage people to fight with the police.  


It seems to me that this a smart and necessary move on the part of Occupy Denver. As cities across the country have cracked down on the physical occupation of parks and squares, codifying yourself as an organization is a logical step for continued advocacy for social and economic justice. 

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