Occupy Denver: Will city's new order mean more arrests today?
After thirteen arrests on Monday following weeks in which no one was jailed, Occupy Denver spent last night strengthening its small fort city at Civic Center Park and preparing for a second wave of busts. Yesterday, Public Works officials served the group with a second official notice to remove all encumbrances, this time with a deadline of 10 a.m. today. The last time the group received a warning notice, it was followed by eviction.
The notice, which reached the camp yesterday around 3 p.m., asks protesters to remove all personal property from the area immediately or risk the same items being "subject to removal by the City of Denver."
"City crews delivered notices to those around Civic Center Park alerting them that it is unlawful to encumber the public right-of-way," says Christine Downs, marketing and communications director for Public Works. "Under D.R.M.C. section 49-246, 'the Manager of Public Works or the manager's designee is authorized to remove or order the removal of any article, vehicle, or things whatsoever encumbering any street alley, sidewalk, parkway, or other public place.'"
But the warning is not a new one for Occupy Denver: The most recent notice is the second in a series related to encumbrances, defined as anything that blocks the sidewalks in front of the park. It comes only a week after the group's attempt to guarantee a restraining order against this and three other city ordinances failed in federal court.
Courtesy of Occupy Denver The group's recent notice.
Although the group's last warning was delivered by police, the decision is "not a police action," says Denver Police Department public information officer Matt Murray. Officers will, however, assist if needed. Given the planned response from Occupy Denver, that chance is likely.
"We will be available if they need us," Murray says. "Just like anybody. If the firemen needed us anywhere, we would go. The goal is that these folks protect their property and get it where it belongs. All I can do is enforce the law when we need to. We're not the enemy."
Last night's 7 p.m. general assembly served as a rallying of forces as Occupy protesters debated and voted on how to respond to attempts to remove their property from the area. Since the last large-scale local altercation with police on November 12, protesters have turned sleeping bag rolls into a substantial series of small forts in order to escape the cold and create community morale. Although the last notice ended with the Thunderdome vacating a permanent spot at the park, the fort-like areas that have since risen up are larger than their November predecessors.
Page down for more about the occupiers' planned response.