Occupy Denver: Thunderdome expands to radio, goes mobile

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At the Thunderdome's last public appearance, a protest against the Colorado Democrats banquet at the Sheraton on Sunday, no one was arrested. Instead, the former Occupy Denver kitchen and erstwhile symbol of its activism served finger food. The point was clear -- feeding the homeless directly in front of $2,500 tables -- but the menu was foremost: lemon mushroom arancini, asian caprese, vegetarian tea sandwiches and "assorted crudités."

In recent months, the Thunderdome's push for autonomy has evolved into a more organized, if occasionally more polite, political offshoot. For its latest protest, held February 11, the Thunderdome worked with Occupy Denver as part of its "No Confidence Rally" to indicate distrust in both of the country's major political parties. But the group effort wasn't particularly coordinated: Both groups kind of just showed up, says Justin "Crunchy" Gwin, the Thunderdome's first cook.

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Kelsey Whipple
Thunderdome cooks Justin "Crunchy" Gwin, Corey Donahue and Pat Marsden prepare food for the group's protest at the Sheraton.
Since November 13, when three arrests took place after a scuffle in Civic Center Park, the Thunderdome has distanced itself from the organization that became its original home. But Gwin is quick to point out that this is not the occupation's fault. Although the two bodies continue to disagree on occasion, most often in regard to the movement's homeless population, the move for autonomy was motivated by the group's increasingly tense relationship with the Denver Police Department.

On November 13, for example, Thunderdome cook Corey Donahue was arrested along with two other protesters when police officers entered the park to remove a card table set up to serve food. The city's anti-encumbrance ordinance, and the now regular enforcement of it at Civic Center Park, placed a significant damper on the Thunderdome's ability to continue to provide free food. In November and December, food items weighed heavily in the piles of items Public Works trucks removed from the occupation after altercations.

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Kelsey Whipple
Police don riot gear before visiting the Thunderdome event on Sunday.
"There's no reason to get a felony because you set up a card table," Gwin says. "Every time we set up a table, they came in and knocked it down and arrested people and ruined the entire experiment. It was a pretty hard decision to make, but since we're all facing charges from the occupation we really couldn't all afford to continue to buck the system at the time."

Click through for more photos and the group's future plans.



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15 comments
Lawrence Valdez
Lawrence Valdez

Setting up a card table is no reason for a felony. However it was these same people I personally saw errect tents during peak hours. I tried supporting Occupy Denver but they continue to align with the Thunderdome and DABC (Denver Anarchists Black Cross). And it's clear when you attend GA that this it's not the non-violent movement it claims to be.

Meow
Meow

I love it. All of a sudden these guys understand that you actually have to work for shit. "You mean you won't just give us food? We have to pay for it? Man this system sucks, having to pay for goods rendered."

Surely the notoriously sarcastic Thunderdome can see the irony in all of this?

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

So Westword, how about some real news reporting...follow up on all the previous arrests and let us know who showed up for their court dates, who didn't, who was convicted and who was found not guilty of the charges against them.  I know it involves real research...maybe that's something that isn't found in journalism anymore....

Jbonz
Jbonz

To hell with no violence! No change was ever enacted without fighting. Look at the protestors in Greece last week. They (like ourselves) are fucking pissed off at their government for causing such a financial debacle; and they show that anger in the right way. Yeah, it'll cost us some deaths but that's what we will need to sacrifice if we want to overthrow this oppressive yoke strung around our necks. 40 years of oppression is more than enough. Let's start fighting back.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

 Actually, we get all our food donated, so we don't pay for it. And we cook it and give it away to people with out asking for money.  We just see how much your, you have to pay for goods rendered, system sucks and just get the overflow food that is programed in restaurants and food producers budgets.  And food is a human right so everyone  should have access to it regardless of if the can pay or not.  I mean what kind of human being cares more about paying for things then making sure people are fed?

Transient
Transient

Jbonz is just one of those Denver Anarchist Black Cross douches posing as an Occupier. He IS the bad guy, Kim S, and I'd join you in downtown Denver if I didn't already know that radical elements like Jbonz walked among the peaceful protesters.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

 Thanks for the post, Jbonz. We're going to pair it with a reply to you as a Comment of the Day. Congrats.

Kim S
Kim S

Jbonz, you are wrong. Your attitude only scares people away from this movement and paints participants as criminals... people like you are what gives the police the "excuse" to come in outnumbering us in riot gear. The majority of Americans have not even come close to exhausting their legal and peaceful options to change this country yet (laziness, ignorance, and the rat race that is their life have prevented them from doing so). I think we both agree that the problems we face are very serious, but I believe that change CAN come by educating and motivating Americans to see the truth and encouraging them to make the necessary changes without resorting to violence. Your attitude does exactly the opposite of what we need right now... your saying exactly what "they" want you to say. You're giving "them" an excuse to label you a "bad guy" and you're scaring people away from a movement that they desperately need right now. With all due respect and only the best of intentions, I urge you... please grow up.

Jbonz
Jbonz

No, I'm not. I'm a man who is frustrated at the lack of progress in any "peaceful" revolt. Who are we kidding when we think we can impact meaningful social/economic change from the grips of the greedy, power hungry elite? You think they are just going to "give" us what we demand? Regardless of what side of the coin you are on with OWS (or any faction therein), you must admit that what OWS, OD, DABC, etc. is demanding is something that will never be given up voluntarily. Any realistic compromise with these vultures is next to impossible. Anything they concede is merely a token gesture. They need to start getting scared like the rest of us! Therefore, dramatic action is needed. Nothing short of raiding governmental offices and creating a pivotal, sensational act of mass civil defiance to show the elitists' that their time is about up.

Does anybody remember what happened after a group of Bostonians were slaughtered by the "police" of their day way back in 1770? All it takes is one stupid act on the part of the police, a massacre, and the spark that I honestly want to see will be lit.

Kim S
Kim S

I wonder how many of the arrestees were members of DABC... I'm genuinely curious, but I'd bet that most of them were. Either way, The ACLU and/or The National Lawyers Guild would have gotten them out, just like they did during the DNC. 

Scott Greene
Scott Greene

If it wasnt for those Denver Anarchist Black Cross members most if not all of the arrestees would still be in jail so... Piss Off Transient

Kim S
Kim S

First off, I feel like you have misunderstood my statement... I did not label you a bad guy, I simply said that your words give others the justification they are looking for to label you so. By calling for violence, you give the police exactly what they want by "justifying" their use of violence against you. 

I do not mean to make light of the very real situation Americans are facing, but if you truly believe that you have "grown up under the most vicious and lengthy persecution that any group should ever have to endure", then you might want to brush up on your history. I can understand your frustration and I do believe that your feelings are justified, I just believe that to actually accomplish something, we need a different approach. 

Things ARE changing, Americans are slowly waking up and when they finally come out to a protest and are made to feel like they are part of a criminal action, they get scared and go home (as we've seen with the massive decline in support for Occupy Denver). We will need the support of the public to make the needed changes and threats of violence only push people away. 

If your goal is to simply vent your frustrations, then by all means, follow the path you are on, but if you really want to try and change things, then I hope you will consider an alternative strategy that focuses on education and motivation... not destruction. I want you to understand that I DO see the problems we're facing as very real and very significant... I think we would probably see eye to eye on about 98% of the issues, we just differ over the best way to construct change. 

For Americans, violence may one day be the only solution, but we do still live in a country where we have alternative options (for now at least), and I don't feel like as a country, we have exhausted all of our peaceful options for change... I can understand if you feel like you have, but the people of this country haven't and it just frustrates me to see them finally waking up and coming out to a protest, only to go home feeling worse than before. 

It sounds to me like you share a common trait with many of history's "greats" by being a bit ahead of your time and I believe you would be much more effective as an activist if you would facilitate the participation of others (who are just now waking up to see their system for what it is) rather than scaring them away by creating an atmosphere where they feel threatened.

Jbonz
Jbonz

 Me the "bad guy"? Am I stealing a house from someone? Am I imprisoning someone against their will for no other reason than I disagree with their lifestyle choices? Am I killing someone for a corporate profit under the disingenuous excuse of patriotism? Am I doing anything in comparison to the murder and theft of Americans that highly placed politicians, military careerists, and corporate henchmen have committed since 2001?!!! And you call me the "bad guy". Yeah, sorry Kim you've miscategorized me here - I'm the pissed off VICTIM! As for me growing up - let me tell you young lady that at almost 50 years of age, I have grown up. I've grown up under the most vicious and lengthy persecution that any group should ever have to endure. 30 years of repression and yes, I have tried the peaceful route. It has gotten us very little to next to nowhere; and I'm not solely referring to MMJ legalization exlusively with this statement. Kim, I'd like to see you go thru a drug war the likes I have seen and still think you can effect Americans with your way of thinking. We've tried non-violence for years and years, it will never work because of the forces we are dealing with. Your idealism is admired but I doubt you'll ever convince me otherwise until some REAL change is enacted NOW, in almost ALL areas of American society not just regarding pot.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

 Thanks for the post, Kim. We're going to pair it with the one you responded to as a Comment of the Day. Congrats.

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