Occupy Denver at six months: Ten unintended consequences of the movement

Categories: Activism

occupy fire thumbnail.jpg
Today, on Occupy Denver's six-month anniversary, the organization is separated from its long-time home in Civic Center Park. Regardless of whether you expected the movement to make it this long, the past half a year brought no shortage of eye-opening events and preparation for the future. In order to contextualize the hundreds of stories that have come out of Occupy Denver's tenure downtown, Westword looked back at ten consequences of occupation that weren't part of the plan.

10. Crime rates
In November, two months into the occupation, the frequency of late-night crimes occurring in the surrounding Capitol Hill area had increased by 30 percent. Although police told Westword the hike in incidents was not related to the amount of department resources allocated to Occupy Denver, the coincidence is worth considering. In recent months, however, mass mobilizations in the park (now closed to the public) have significantly decreased, drawing fewer officers away from other events on a regular basis.

9. Media harassment This entry might earn us some of our own in the comments section, but it's important to remember that the occupation did bring us the phrase "bad nut-tap joke gone wrong." Accused of groping a television news journalist, protester Corey Donahue coined the summary when he told Westword the event never happened. In recent weeks, the most noticeable case comes from Fox 31: Earlier this month, television reporter Eli Stokols earned the ire of protesters (and dispensed it right back) when they interrupted his live broadcast with signs reading "Fuck the Police." Several F-bombs were dropped that day.

8. The Family of Love
In addition to actual love, Occupy Denver created an entire offshoot community devoted to it. Launched on the side of the street opposite of the occupation proper, Fort Love became the temporary home to between twenty and thirty protesters dedicated more to peace and philosophical discussion than to direct political action. Although the group's streetside resort has since been demolished several times, its members continue to live together outside of the park and have since developed a distinct organization of their own. In the future, look for more events from the Family of Love.

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Kelsey Whipple
Occupy Denver protesters hold a candlelight vigil for the death of an unknown homeless woman.
7. Rumor control
With great political power comes a great desire to talk about it -- a lot. Because of Occupy Denver's constantly shifting roster of issues, agendas and personalities, it occasionally becomes difficult to decode what is a rumor and what is reality, what's just a Twitter feud and what is an immediate action. The most notable example of the trend toward exaggeration came in December, when occupier Nicole Sisneros led a candlelight vigil downtown for her own death. Clearly, she is still alive, but rumors that she had frozen overnight during the frigid month swelled so extensively that even after she appeared in the park, the death was attributed to another Nicole, a homeless woman who also did not die (and might not have existed at all). For a more recent example, see the unsubstantiated claims that the downtown "Fuck the Police" rally included urine bombs.

6. Dog jokes
One dog to rule them all -- and in the park, tents bind them. Occupy Denver's elected leader, four-year old Border collie mix Shelby, might spend most of her time at her home in Boulder these days, but her position created national controversy -- and terrible jokes. Those at the general assembly where she announced her candidacy probably had no idea the mild-mannered pooch would make it on NPR, Rachel Maddow and hundreds of other outlets before eventually appearing in TIME magazine's list of Top 10 Oddball News Stories in 2011. Because her position is mostly symbolic, we guess this means her bark is worse than her bite. (The opposite is true on Twitter, though, where a fake account in Shelby's name raised more than a few hackles.)

Page down to read the top five unintended consequences of Occupy Denver on its six-month anniversary.

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Civic Center Park

Broadway and Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General

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You mean they're still at it? Who knew?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Eichenbaum should get a clue about her and Denver's responsibilities regarding Civic Center Park.  Protesters have done no significant harm to the Park, but the City has done plenty.  Turning the sprinklers on in order to wet down the homeless on a cold night, weeks after the irrigation system was winterized likely resulted in damage as water froze in the pipes.  The Denver Police Department has no special dispensation to violate Park regulations by driving into it, and with the resources at its disposal and the access afforded from all sides, no reason which could possibly justify ever doing so, but DPD drove and parked all over the turf which must now be replaced and an irrigation system which may need extensive repair.

Ms. Eichenbaum heads yet another non-profit ostensibly acting in the public interest, but by mouthing only what Hancock wants, she gives political cover to what should elicit public outrage:  the City is closing one of its most important parks for an extended period in order to suppress public protest there this Spring, it is using damage it heedlessly and wrongfully did to the Park as a pretext, and it is spending monies borrowed by the public to pay for the Mayor's  criminal program against Occupy and the 4/20 Rally.  Eichenbaum certainly seems to be speaking to Denver's many Good Germans, who will accept this arbitrary abuse of power and waste of bond money without question, but the truth will out -- taxpayers have every reason to be angry at the abuse of their park, and some of them are smart enough to figure out who is responsible.

Jenn the Barbarian
Jenn the Barbarian

Occupy is definitely on the losing end of the PR war, but I still think the scabies drama was disproportionately  overblown. And the city's sudden interest in park renovations are awfully convenient.

Son of a Spurrier
Son of a Spurrier

In my mind, Occupy Denver jumped the shark and landed alongside Westboro Baptist when they disrupted the homeless vigil. Any point they made prior to that night or wanted to make was lost on me after that. And I'm well aware that it wasn't an "organized" event, but when you let people into your house you are responsible when they start breaking shit.



politics are boring

hanging out in a park is boring

call me when the insurrection starts.

To Each His Own
To Each His Own

Pamela Zubal says you are welcome. She organized the most stupid protest in Colorado history. She owns it. Me thinks she might be a plant.


That sounds cool to death. Let's be cool together.


You are right. That night and the night they set fire to the park are about the time all the air went out of the movement. I know it sounds good to say you don't have a leader, but when you don't have a leader, idiots do idiotic things like set fires in public parks and thoughtlessly and callously yell down a memorial while hundreds of family members stand by in shock. #idiots


 totes michael

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