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Updated: Occupy Denver's latest eviction ends in flames, arrests and Tebowing

Clapper, Michael 2.jpg
Michael Clapper.
Updated, 12:40 p.m. December 22: Michael Clapper, one of nine arrested at Monday's raid on the Occupy Denver encampment, has officially been charged with four counts of 4th degree arson. Behind the charges are the allegation that Clapper intentionally set fire to an encumbrance and other items in the area, which endangered others. Because of this danger, the charges are classified as a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to six years in jail. The 22-year-old Westminster native faces a bail amount set at $50,000.

Update, 12:50 p.m. December 21: The criminal charges of the nine protesters arrested during Monday night's raid include arson, obstructing a street and throwing missiles. Among them, one name stands out: Nicole Sisneros, a homeless protester who was discussed on last night's episode of Countdown with Kieth Olbermann. He was arrested the same night she threw her Bible into a bonfire in protest. Click through to see the full list and our original coverage of the eviction.

Protesters arrested during Monday night's eviction of Civic Center Park:
Michael Clapper, 22: felony arson
John Cook, 35: throwing missiles
James McCollum, 18: obstructing a street
Daniel Newman, 18: throwing missiles
Dana Nobles, 24: disobeying a lawful order
Jakeob Olson, 21: throwing missiles
Alex Pickruhn, 18: interference, disobeying a lawful order
Nicole Sisneros, 27: disobeying a lawful order
Lauren Vigoda, 21: obstruction of a street, disobeying a lawful order



Update, 11 a.m. December 21: At a press conference this morning, Mayor Michael Hancock confirmed nine total arrests.


Original post: For Occupy Denver, last night ended in flames, eviction, arrests and Tebowing. At 11:30 p.m., Denver Police delivered on its promise to remove the group's small fort city. Although protesters burned a handful of the encumbrances down, approximately 200 officers in riot gear moved in with batons and pepper ball guns before they could destroy any others. All demonstrators have been evicted from Civic Center Park.

Protesters first received warning of an impending police presence around 11 p.m., when one occupier on his way to the park witnessed police donning riot gear on Lincoln. Given advance notice of their forthcoming altercation with police, protesters began to remove all valuables from inside their handmade structures and evacuate into the center of the street. Soon riot police approached via police cars and buses in a show of force that outnumbered the protesters at least five to one.

By the end of the night, four protesters were arrested, two on charges of arson and two for failing to obey a lawful order.

occupy bonfire 4.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Protesters started a bonfire in the center of the park and set fire to pieces of their temporary shelters.
As most of the officers formed a line down Broadway in front of the protest, a handful closed off the street's entrance on Colfax with police cars and paddy wagons. When officers began to move in on the camp in military formation, a few protesters lit two of the cardboard structures on fire while creating a large bonfire in the center of the park. As efforts progressed, occupiers tore wooden planks and other pieces off of their forts to add to the bonfire. One protester, Nicole Sisneros, who is known fondly inside the camp as "crazy Jesus lady," threw her Bible into the fire in protest.

"We're not going to win this tonight," protester Kerri Kellerman said. "Not even close. But we're not going to leave our park easily."

The relationship between police and protesters was tense, with riot batons directed at both press and protesters.

Last night marked the first aggressive altercation between the two parties since November 13, and though Occupy Denver's numbers had decreased as a result of the late hour and cold, protesters stood their ground as long as possible when asked to vacate the park. Many hurled insults at officers, who responded in kind, and several occupiers threw encumbrances into the street in order to prohibit the police from moving in.

The night's tension level could be easily measured by its change in chants. Cheers of "You're sexy! You're cute! Take off your riot suit!" turned quickly to accusations of murder and violence. Late in the night, they transitioned to cries against police brutality and allegations of violations of First Amendment rights. "Go to hell, you fascist pigs!" yelled one protester.

As police blocked off Broadway, Sisneros attempted to lie down in front of oncoming officers as they pushed protesters out of the park, but she was removed by another protester before she could be arrested.

occupy ben defensive.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
A Family of Love protester responds to police officers as they push him out of the park.
At 11:50, officers issued a warning for all parties to vacate the park, accompanied by a deadline five minutes later. While a fire team began to extinguish the flames growing inside the park, police officers attempted to shove a television news reporter out of the area, and Westword received the same physical treatment.

Police chief Robert White, as he promised at his meeting with occupiers earlier in the day, was present in person at their eviction. White wore plainclothes and watched as the DPD struggled to remove all protesters from Civic Center Park. Later, when they demanded to speak with him on spot, he opted not to show himself.

After police moved protesters out of the park, they continued to push the group down Broadway past the library and blocked the road off to 13th Avenue. Before receiving another demand to vacate the street, a handful of protesters danced defiantly in front of police while others Tebowed in the center of Broadway. Still more sang a kooky rendition of "God Bless America." The sight marked a strange mix of elation and aggression in the face of the movement's largest struggle in more than a month.

Those who could gather their belongings dragged them out of the area through the snow on tarps, and the rest continued to march down Broadway through the center of the street before moving on to Colfax and Clarkson. There they found a Public Works truck, and a handful of occupiers jumped inside to reclaim some of their property. Followed by officers in riot gear, protesters were asked to take to the sidewalk immediately or risk arrest.

By 1 a.m., a large number of police had returned to the buses, and multiple bulldozers and oversized waste trucks drove along Broadway to remove all belongings from the area. For now, the entire campsite has been cleared of fires, protesters and their private property.

"We'll be back tomorrow, and we'll just end up doing this all again later," protester Jason Ball promised. "What point was there in talking with the chief of police if the same day things got more violent than ever?"

Continue through for more photos of last night's eviction.


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51 comments
Greg Spence Wolf
Greg Spence Wolf

When the police attack the non-violent and highly organized protests the majority of the people attacked leave and the homeless remain. We need to find places to allow the homeless to camp and be organized. Tent cities with autonomy and some government oversight should exist, then the occupy encampments can be filled with protesters with a message, their libraries and their free kitchens.

littlekittie
littlekittie

If these clowns spent as much time looking for a job as they did hanging out on Broadway, smokin' weed, they might just find that supposedly elusive job. So kiddies, it's time to occupy a bath, a haircut, a new attitude, and a job!

Jtcolfax
Jtcolfax

I spent some time last week furthering the idea of "Tebowing" when this hammer was about to come down.  But what a sad development this new attack has been.  What till election summer.

Claudia Hottentot
Claudia Hottentot

well, what does it take for Westword to be a real newspaper again? This?Shame on you for selling out years ago. I have become used to disregarding Westword.Wake up and smell the f cking grass!

novenator
novenator

I missed the raid, but watched everything after it on uStream http://www.ustream.tv/channel/...

The scene was very tense.  The DPD had falsely stated that they wanted to reach a mutually beneficial compromise and solution to the camp, but instead gave these patriots a surprise raid in the middle of the night.  The #OccupyDenver folks were understandably upset by this, and took to the streets.  

I've watched a LOT of #ows coverage from around the country on LiveStream and uStream.  Out of all the police state brutality and shady tactics, the Denver PD have been the absolute WORST.  They are violent thugs.

Reno
Reno

ROCK ON OCCUPIERS! 

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Good thing Nicole only burned a Bible. What would have happened if it were a Koran?

Elizabeth Allen
Elizabeth Allen

There is no longer community policing.,..these are riot squad gangs or goons. They forget they took an oath of office to protect and serve the PUBLIC,not corporate amerikka. Time to go online and get the 99% and come out with a major spring offensive....occupationamerica.com.

JJ
JJ

If I was the Westword or any other news organization that was represented last night, I would be filing claims with DPD internal affairs and calling them out. This is not the first time the police have roughed up journalists. They definately know the difference between a journalist and a protester too.

Seven_Tostadas
Seven_Tostadas

The only reason they were "forced" to misbehave is because Sarah Palin and the Tea Party made them do it.  The 1% should forgive all their debts and set them up in foreclosed McMansions.  Then they will be happy (as long as someone else pays the bills).

Occupy This!
Occupy This!

It's amateur hour again in downtown Denver. Way to go, Occupy! What is your point again? Protesting for the right to set fires in the middle of downtown Denver? You have lost a lot of support with these harebrained antics, and you're gonna lose even more support with these acts of arson. Duh! Get a clue! Occupy your Congressman's office, occupy the polls, occupy a letter-writing campaign. DO NOT occupy arson.

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

I am sure these people you call clowns some paid taxes and had jobs and more before your coward behind ever did ,I am sure all the vets ,workers, teachers, students, activist,etc that you are calling clowns all put in more time for their country then you will ever do,I am sure these people you are calling clowns know why the U.S Constitution is so important maybe because they read it? unlike lets say most in gov. have not,I am sure I made myself very clear to your coward little self and if not read this 100 x maybe you will get it got it ?

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Wow, a real armchair revolutionary.  Did you eat popcorn while watching?

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

You just keep sticking your finger up your other hole and next time smell the bs coming out of it coward .....

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Twelve morons and counting! You all are more than a few beans short of a tostada.

Spike
Spike

No one down there is asking for a handout. They aren't asking for a free house with free bills and free support. Have you ever even talked to anyone down there, and I don't mean one of the obviously crazy bums, but someone down there legitimately Occupying? Many of those people would gladly take up work, many do have jobs that pay terrible wages. Many would gladly own a home, and probably take better care of it out of appreciation than many I know. While they want to be able to have the right to do this, people say they want a hand out. And yet Paris Hilton and other abominations don't ever work, or deal with anything, because they party and have a ton of money from their parents and we put that on tv and praise them. Who are the people really looking for handouts, the poor guy trying to get enough money for food and water, or the elite who we watch act like complete arrogant bigots on tv?

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

You sound like a dirt bag first you have no clue what's in the works you lay claim to such a new movement yet you do nothing to move it forward that's what we call cowards ...

Elizabeth Allen
Elizabeth Allen

seven; where the hell do you come from? and are you out there in the snow protesting or sitting on your computer with your finger up your nose. You havent a clue whats going or you wouldnt make such idiotic comments. The COPS are in riot gear moron....against protestors performing their right to peacefully assemble...no justice....no peace.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

How freely the corporate media, you, and all the other wingnuts bandy about the term "arson"!  While the definition does encompass any deliberate burning of property, its dominant connotation is the deliberate burning of someone else's property (or of one's own for the purposes of making fraudulent insurance claims).

Spike
Spike

Occupiers have been occupying congress offices, the governors and mayors office. They have legislation moving through local and national levels. The lighting their structures on fire probably wasn't the best move but given the way the police have thrown away their private property in the past I can see why they would do it to not allow the police to take it again. Most of the people there are the Denver homeless, that the city try and hide form your view. All they have are those blankets, pillows, maybe a clock, etc. The DPD have come in and thrown these things away multiple times, for the crime of being homeless and visible, while shelters are full and tents are made illegal even in the brutal cold weather. I understand they went over the edge with the lighting of stuff on fire, but they also are very passionate because they have had to protect their home and life from armed thugs multiple times. DPD has not been held accountable yet for the hundreds of personal possessions they have taken and thrown away, which is theft any way you look at it, but these people see each other get arrested for refusing to leave a public sidewalk because the police want to throw away everything they own.

novenator
novenator

LOL, coming from a little girl who probably lives in his mother's basement, your words ring hollow dude.  I've risked arrest for freedom many times at different occupy events, trying to exercise the liberties that authoritarian conservatives like you would try to rob from America.  How does it feel to be worse than the Tory traitors in the Revolutionary War?

Seven_Tostadas
Seven_Tostadas

And you?  Obviously some sort of a racist occu-tard.

littlekittie
littlekittie

Then why do you watch them on TV? Want to make a REAL difference? Turn off those programs. Period. Without ratings, those programs will go off the air.

And Spike, there are a whole lot of jobs "out there." I got laid off in 2008, just like millions of others. Instead of whining about it, I figured out what to do, and made a job and a new business for myself. I didn't lose my house, either. That's because I saved money, didn't use my house as my personal piggybank, and didn't spend everything I had on goodies when the going was good.

Occupy This!
Occupy This!

Not looking for a handout? Hahaha! Wasn't Cover Boy Occupier Corey Donahue quoted in WW cover story as saying he had no intention of paying back his $57,000 in student loans? Sounds like he thinks he's entitled to a handout to me!

Jerry
Jerry

Haha... Robert Chase called others "wingnuts".... Kettle black there buddy.

You are the Wingnut, Robert. For instance, you call your mmj group "The coalition of patients and caregivers" However, you have NO MEMBERSHIP. Now that is wing nutty to the max.... since a coalition means a group that has other groups in it...

Go take your meds and get a nap....

Robert's Bullhorn
Robert's Bullhorn

OK, OK.... I'll bite.... What is up with a person telling people "You to(sic) stupid to understand" when they clearly have no command of the English language?

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

I think they rather go to sleep knowing they did all they could as a patriot instead of fall in the holes you cowards have only cowards hide from the truths and only cowards attack it .

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

It proves their are patriots and then theirs people like you and your but buddies as cowards you all are .

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Funny, what you Occu-tards call freedom, the rest of us call trespassing, partying, and making fools of yourselves.  Enjoy.  I love how the top honchos of OWS stayed in $700 hotel rooms, while the morons slept on the street.  Cracks me up!!   http://www.nypost.com/p/news/l...

littlekittie
littlekittie

Indeed! An arrest would have proved nothing. It just makes it harder for them to attain that elusive job! There's a whole lot of corporations that won't hire anyone with an arrest record or a conviction. They are setting themselves up for a lifetime of failure.

Occupy This!
Occupy This!

Why did you risk arrest? Why weren't you arrested? If you had been arrested, what would your arrest have proved?

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

And a coward is a clown who see's unjust yet doesn't do anything about it, you and your but buddies fit that area perfectly .

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

And a coward is a clown who see's unjust yet doesn't about it you and your but buddies fit that area perfectly .

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Intelligent comment.  If I have to go to your level, my response is - "I know you are but what am I?"

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Both racists and non-racists are free to use the term, which originated with politically-minded black people to refer to other black people during the 1960s.  You are trying to capitalize on the fact that the term seems to have fallen into disuse to fool people into thinking that it is racist.  Hancock is sufficient reason in and of himself to revive it (but I would be overjoyed were some citizens of color to start calling him out as the Oreo he is too).

novenator
novenator

What would a racist like yourself know about anything?

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Funny couldn't find that there.  So, do you also use the word Oreo as a racist?

novenator
novenator

UrbanDictionary:

NcalCon: a modern day Tory who hates freedom

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Urban dictionary::Oreo- A racist slur and schoolyard name based on racist stereotypes wrongly assuming that intelligence, articulateness, dapperness, and manners are traits of whites and not blacks. Therefore, a black who possesses these traits is an oreo, white on the inside and black on the outside. A corollary slur is banana, yellow (Asian) on the outside and white on the inside.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The Mayor is an Oreo Cookie -- I try to affirm rather than deny.  Your assignment is to go look up the words "Oreo" and "racist" -- show your findings to your remedial English teacher.

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

A racist is someone who calls a Black man an Oreo, no matter how strongly he denies he's a racist.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Racist?  Is that what you call all non-Chicanos? Go look in a mirror.

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

Lmao sorry but the occupation makes news we don't watch it like you guys do, also we do have links where you can see it live so you do the whole story not just was major media does for a quick buck .

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

They are too (not "to") stupid to understand

You to stupid to understand
You to stupid to understand

Jerry we understand you a coward nutless self can only talk the talk yet you ain't walking the walk till you do stand in your corner ..

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

"Wingnut" is slang for a right-wing extremist -- I am not one, but don't let not knowing the meaning of the words you use slow you down!  Three other people share your animus (and probably your ignorance as well).

The Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers does not have members, but it does have supporters and adherents; after all, it includes everyone who believes that the rights of patients whose doctors have recommended their use of cannabis and the prerogative of those patient's caregivers to supply cannabis to them, as enumerated in Article XVIII, Section 14 of Colorado's Constitution, should be upheld against the depredations of the prohibitionists. Although I may be fighting a losing battle against overwhelming odds, it feels good to uphold those rights, and patients thank me for my work. I am not daunted by the opponents of cannabis -- ignorant detractors within the movement are worse, but I don't let you all get me down either.

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