Videos: First Nations calls FlatIron Crossing protest a flash mob, cops disagree
Last week, we reported that a flash-mob protest at FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield quickly turned confrontational, resulting in five arrests. Organizers of the First Nations protest, which plans another rally tonight, are questioning why cops intervened, given that the mall has been the site of many peaceful flash mobs in the past; see videos below. Police, however, say this scenario was different -- and was not a flash mob.
"It's a flash mob. It's gonna be in and out in fifteen minutes," says Glenn Morris, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver and a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. "They know that there's been multiple flash mobs there in the past. It raises the question of whether or not their protocols were racially motivated?"
Morris has been leading Denver protests in support of a Canadian hunger striker trying to facilitate a meeting between the government and First Nations leaders. The efforts are part of a national effort called Idle No More. He was not at the Broomfield protest, but he says he and others are concerned that the police chose to make arrests when peaceful flash mobs have gone on without incident at the same location.
Here's one video he sent our way from December 9, 2010. More are featured below.
"It would be very disturbing if we find that there's some kind of racially motivated protocol," Morris says of the American Indian protest last week.
For comparison, here's video from the event last week, which we posted with our write-up on the arrests:
Occupy Denver has an Idle No More solidarity event scheduled tonight at the Capitol from 6-7 p.m.
Rick Kempsell, a public information officer with the Broomfield Police Department, defends the arrests and says there is a fundamental difference between the flash mobs that have happened in the mall in the past and the protest that took place last week.
"I would not consider what happened last week being a flash mob," he says. "They are allowed to protest, but they cannot disrupt activity, they cannot disrupt passage.... The issue we were dealing with was the protest was a disruption to the daily operation of the mall."
He says that in this case, mall security asked the protesters to disperse and some refused -- at which point the former called Broomfield Police officers, who also asked the participants to disperse. Those that refused were eventually arrested, he says.
"We are dealing with criminal conduct," he says.
Continue for more of the Broomfield Police Department's response to the protesters' accusations.