Occupy Denver hearing: Police officer made fake Twitter account to harass occupation "idiots"

Categories: Occupy Denver

occupy cop small.jpg
Yesterday's hearing for an injunction on behalf of Occupy Denver came with an unfair share of sarcasm and surprises, but one stood out far beyond the others: While one document from Officer James Henning suggested a plan to stay the current course until the occupation "wears itself out," another found a police officer admitting to the creation of a fake Twitter account for the sole purpose of harassing the occupiers, referred to as "idiots."

After a day spent, with the exception of three recesses, entirely in federal court, lead plaintiff attorney David Lane sounded more than optimistic about his side's chance for success in guaranteeing a temporary restraining order against the City and County of Denver. "I'd say it's probable," Lane said of the outcome. "We've put in a lot of time on this case. If we win, the city has to pay our legal fees, and then we'll really count the hours."

After both sides gave closing arguments and Lane offered a rebuttal, Judge Robert Blackburn promised to provide a final decision in the hearing "as soon as practical," which he then translated to mean "as soon as tomorrow morning."

Occupy Denver police.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Riot police stand in the street in front of Occupy Denver.
At end of the day's longest recess at noon, the defense called two witnesses. The most notable speaker was Denver Police Department division chief David Quinones, who spoke extensively about the DPD's enforcement policies and relationship history when it comes to Occupy Denver.

The core of the plaintiff's argument focused on the suggestion that the DPD is selectively enforcing municipal ordinances to specifically restrict the practices of the occupation, and the issue came up repeatedly during Quinones' cross-examination, particularly when he confirmed that a gathering the size of Occupy Denver is not allowed in city parks on a regular basis without a permit allowing it to do so. The arguments centered on the standards the city uses to decide which ordinances it chooses to enforce.

When asked to detail the steps the DPD has taken in order to protect the movement's First Amendment freedom of expression, Quinones said the police have "accommodated several unlawful, unpermitted marches" by blocking off traffic to ensure the group's safe passage through downtown during Saturday rallies. He maintained the DPD must regularly enforce park rules because "the park is dark at night," Quninones said, adding that "a lot of crimes typically occur in parks."

A notably heavy drug area in the past, Civic Center Park has continued to host criminal activity during the occupation as well, Quinones testified. "We've had at least one drug overdose, sexual assaults, several fights we've had to put out," he said. In his view, the encampment includes "disorder and a lot of criminal mischief."

Any property removed because of the city's anti-encumbrance ordinance is classified as "abandoned," Quinones said. He asserted that the personal property of the protesters' provided such extensive encumbrances that passersby were forced to walk into incoming traffic lanes to make their way past. That earned a retort from Lane, who asked why pedestrians did not simply step into the park instead of the street.

During the later part of the day's arguments, the discourse between the plaintiff and defense grew occasionally sarcastic, particularly after Quinones admitted holes in his knowledge base. Although he argued Daniel Garcia's honking might have prevented officers from hearing his orders or police radio during the night's altercation, he told the court, "I don't know why the officer issued that ticket. I was told the next day."

Other evidence included documentation of Mayor Michael Hancock's Honk 'n' Waves, campaign rallies for which Lane confirmed with a witness for the defense that there were no related tickets for honking.

Quinones later said for the court that the enforcement of municipal ordinances falls primarily to individual officers. He said that in a hypothetical situation similar to the one in which a literature table was removed from the occupation as an encumbrance: "I would advise the officers to leave them alone. It's not worth the fight."

"What you're saying then," asked David Lane, "is that it's up to each and every officer to decide what they're willing to enforce?"

Quinones' reply: "Absolutely." (Quninones, it is interesting to note, testified that he was not aware of either CBS4 or the Denver Post's coverage of Daniel Garcia's ticket -- only Westword's.) The same statement applied to Quninones' assessment of Schultz's ticket for riding on the sidewalk, which he agreed officers would normally just treat with a warning.

"The apparent lack of command within Denver brass was something I found very surprising," Lane said after the hearing.

Although Lane remains positive regarding the outcome of the plaintiff's petition for a temporary restraining order, the closing arguments were predictably -- and eloquently -- split. The defense maintained that Lane and his team did not provide enough evidence to suggest that the city's actions would chill a person of ordinary firmness from participating in the movement and exercising his or her First Amendment rights, while Lane struck out bluntly against the city's aggressive tactics in controlling the occupation.

"The bureaucracy is always the enemy of free speech," Lane said. "Everything they can do to make your life difficult and miserable, they will do. I think it really just comes down to what kind of society you want to live in. Do you want to live in a society that encourages free speech and expression or not?"

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Charge against plaintiff in David Lane lawsuit dropped days before court date."

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SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

SelinaaWozz
SelinaaWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

Fifth Green
Fifth Green

U would think the police would be charged with inciting a riot?

fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

Over the last couple of decades, We the Sheeple have not had any protests of this duration and significance in multiple cities nationwide. Certainly there were some widespread attempts at protesting the Iraq/Afghanistan wars but those protesting were quickly and thoroughly branded as anti-American which undoubtedly discouraged  and discredited the protests from gaining momentum. The Bush team's mockery of Cindy Sheehan was an egregious affront that should not have been tolerated by the media or citizens. The TeaBagger "rallies" can't be considered protests since they scheduled them far in advance, rented portable toilets and had Koch brothers' funded operatives private-jetting from state to state issuing talking points and sound bites. So yeah just the mere fact that We the Sheeple are asserting our alleged rights of free speech and redress of govt, The Govt panics and sends in overly militarized cops to shut down the noise makers. Whether one agrees or disagrees with all the tactics employed, the Occupy movement is long overdue.

Shaggy
Shaggy

Police=henchmen for the 1%.

Sharpshooter
Sharpshooter

Whatever keeps 'em from raping assault victims and beating the unarmed! Blog away!

novenator
novenator

WTF is it with the DPD? Did that particular police force just happen to get infested by brutal thugs for some reason? They seriously seem to be the *worst big city law enforcement gang out of all the Occupation cities.

PatrickHenryPress
PatrickHenryPress

From testimony and comments here it would seem the DPD has a problem with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Perhaps they'd prefer to live in a more amenable nation to their notions, like Pakistan.

Every cop is the arbiter of the Constitution in Denver? You have no Constitution in Denver; you live by the whims of a bully in a uniform.

Iminthemail
Iminthemail

I could tell you the next big civil law suit is coming and its going to be a large one that won't be dropped against denver detectives, a judge and the state.

I_hate_yogurt
I_hate_yogurt

I will admit right now, I want to Honk, but I am afraid to do so. I steer clear because of the DPD.

D.Day
D.Day

"The defense maintained that Lane and his team did not provide enough evidence to suggest that the city's actions would chill a person of ordinary firmness from participating in the movement and exercising his or her First Amendment rights [...]"

I can't count the number of normal, work-a-day, typical middle class supporters I know who will not come to the park because they are afraid of the police crackdowns and perpetual ticketing.  If the court can't see this, justice is not only blind, but deaf and mute as well.

D.Day
D.Day

I used to go down every day.  Now I only go when I know I have the next 72 hours free to be in jail and several hundred dollars available to pay a ticket or bail money.

This is no joke.

The police abuse and TOTAL INCONSISTENCY OF ENFORCEMENT has had a chilling effect on people like me that were once the most ardent supporters of OD.  I just can't afford fines and jail time because somebody with a badge feels like enforcing something today that I was told is okay by another officer yesterday.

Cuester
Cuester

Anyone who thinks that police actions as described in the article have not discouraged participation is kidding himself. I've been on one march and have gone to the park a couple of times during the day, but I'm guilty of thinking twice when deciding to go on more, especially when it seems as if there will be batons and pepper spray, or pepper balls and rubber bullets. As a guy well into geezerhood, I just cannot run away from trouble and I cannot imagine surviving a dose of pepper spray without a trip to the hospital. I'd like to donate food and supplies to younger protesters, but I cannot walk far enough while carrying bags and I don't want to risk wasting money on tickets. Do I feel supressed? You bet I do.

Random
Random

Across the rest of the country, the Occupy movement is fighting against foreclosures and trying to defend homes from the banks.  Across the rest of the country, the Occupy movement is marching against the current bill before Congress to make indefinite detentions by the US military legal.  Across the rest of the country, the Occupy movement is trying to fight against the power and influence of the too-big-to-fail banks.

Here in Denver, the Occupy movement is squabbling over tents in the park and the right to honk your horn.  Really, is that the most important thing you can think of to fight for right now?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Can you really be that dim?  Here in Denver, disregard for the First Amendment and for the proper enforcement of the laws on the part of the incompetent leadership of the City and State has made free speech the central issue.

Yes, yokels abusing power and trampling our freedom of speech is even more important than protesting our criminal banks.  Denver (not OD) has distinguished itself, but not in a good way.

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

Perfect sense "The bureaucracy is always the enemy of free speech," Lane said. "Everything they can do to make your life difficult and miserable, they will do. I think it really just comes down to what kind of society you want to live in. Do you want to live in a society that encourages free speech and expression or not?" By David Lane

Forehead Slap
Forehead Slap

I call foul, but not on Occupy or the Police, but Westword. Your headline makes a BFD out of  this fake Twitter account, which baited me to click  on the story. Then there is practically no info on it, save one clumsy end of a sentence. Assuming the officer is a he, what did he post besides "idiots?" Which officer created the account? Was he punished? Was he a Supervisor or did his Supervisor have knowledge of this before he did it? Was the officer reprimanded? Is he still posting to the account?  Was this part of a larger disinformation strategy? What was the name on the account? How was that account discovered to be fake? How was that information discovered by the court, and why is it relevant to Occupy's free speech or park use? 

Good grief. Hire better interns, Westword. Credit where credit is due, thanks for letting us know there were three recesses during a daylong court case. Really needed to know that.

Also, I have followed the Occupy movement closely and I waited for the Denver Post to report on the honking incident after Westword covered it, so as to see how the facts of the stories matched up, given how "in the tank" Mr. or Ms. Whipple seems to be for the Occupy crowd. She never reports anything but praise for them. I never found that story, and went looking for it now. I searched the Web, the Denver Post site and called the Denver Post to ask. They never ran the story about Daniel Garcia. I guessing he wasn't aware of it because he is better informed than Westword. Correction or link, please.

Forehead Slap
Forehead Slap

Now that I've calmed down my from an explosion of frustration, would Westword pretty please re-investigate the Twitter thing, maybe give it to a more seasoned reporter. If anyone knows the answer to the questions I posted, please inform me and Mr. or Mrs. Whipple in the comments section. We would both appreciate it.

Abranomos
Abranomos

Convulsions of a System, incapable of Truth, masters of Propaganda, serving up more banalities to justify their acts of suppression of speech and freedom of assembly to petition the government about our grievances. Clear as a Bell: Let Freedom Ring

John Fehner
John Fehner

When you look at what is happening in Denver, then look at NYPD's "Frozen Zones" & LAPD's "free speech zones", it's obvious that these cities and others across the land are hell bent on destroying the 1st Amendment.  The terms "Frozen Zone" and Free Speech Zone" are flat out Orwellian in nature, and it is up to us as American Citizens to spread the word, educate one another about the heinous nature of these actions.  If we cannot have freedom of the press, and freedom to assemble to address grievances as GUARANTEED by the Constitution, then we are  quickly moving in the direction of totalitarianism in it's myriad forms.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong post, John. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Dale Satterly
Dale Satterly

" The defense maintained that Lane and his team did not provide enough evidence to suggest that the city's actions would chill a person of ordinary firmness from participating in the movement and exercising his or her First Amendment rights"I am that evidence. 

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting take, Dale. Thanks.

BAFrederickCMB
BAFrederickCMB

Michael do you ever think anything is "a strong take" that is against what you think? I know you're extremely pro-weed and pro-occupy - but I have yet to see you be on par with an unbiased journalistic approach to your topics. I may be wrong?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I am told that Quinones repeated the lie about protesters rocking a police car -- said under oath, that was perjurious.

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

Well he is in violation of the oath and the occupation should win it hands down and if they don't that will just show how deep the 1%ers control the system

Rob
Rob

You were given correct information.  In my opinion,l based on my personal observation of the events in question, this District Chief is either completely ignorant of the behavior of his subordinates or willfully perjured himself.  Either way, he's not fulfilling his obligations to the City and County of Denver.

Patti
Patti

The only truthful utterances from his mouth in court yesterday consisted of two phrases "I don't know" and "ummmmmmm."

Mark
Mark

 posting links to shopping might be free speech . this is just tacky . mark

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

DISQUS is crap -- this spammer uses the same account (or ones with very similar names anyway) over and over again.  DISQUS used to flag my comments as spam, but is incapable of stopping "lyls56r", even after its comments have been flagged manually.

Nick Lucchesi
Nick Lucchesi

I want to keep the ability for commenters to post links, but yeah, that user was a spammer. Deleted the comment.

NL

BanTshirts
BanTshirts

You can configure Disqus to stop anything with a link from being posted.

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