Sunday, October 30, 2011

Denver Cops Move In to Break Up Occupy Encampment

October 29, 2011 12:22 PM

Denver police move into Occupy encampment

(CBS/AP) Updated 9:55 PM EST

DENVER - Police have moved into an encampment of Occupy Wall Street supporters and are arresting demonstrators who have ignored orders to leave.

The police action this evening comes just hours after a standoff between protesters and authorities near the steps of the Colorado Capitol erupted into a clash that resulted in a surge of demonstrators being met with police force that included reports of pepper spray and rubber bullets.

The situation downtown escalated when some supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement marching in a group of about 2,000 tried to advance up the Capitol steps.

About eight officers scuffled with a group of protesters, according to The Denver Post, and police confirmed to the newspaper that they used pepper spray and either rubber bullets or pepper balls to break up the crowd.

Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said protesters knocked an officer off his motorcycle and other officers were kicked by demonstrators.

Murray said seven protesters were arrested, including two for assault and one for disobedience. He said some demonstrators had received medical treatment on the scene, but no one had been taken to a hospital.

Mike Korzen, 25, said he was among the protesters whom police dispersed with rubber bullets and pepper spray.

"I was standing there with my hands behind my back," Korzen said, using a water bottle to wash pepper spray from his eyes.

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of the Denver suburbs visited the protest site Saturday afternoon to try to calm protesters.

After the clash several protesters moved across the street to a park where a small encampment has been established. A city street between the park and the Capitol was blocked by police cars and a Denver bus.

In other "Occupy" developments:

NASHVILLE: State troopers for the second straight night arrested anti-Wall Street protesters for defying a new nighttime curfew imposed by the Republican governor, in an effort to disband an encampment near the state Capitol in Nashville.

And also, for a second time, a Nashville night judge dismissed the arrest warrants.

The Tennessean newspaper reported early Saturday morning that Magistrate Tom Nelson told troopers delivering the protesters to jail that he could "find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza."

Occupy Nashville protesters - including many of the 29 arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Friday - returned to the Legislative Plaza that evening and remained through the 10 p.m. curfew.

There was no noticeable law enforcement presence for nearly two hours after the curfew went into effect on Friday night, while adjacent theaters let out and patrons filtered back through the plaza to their cars without being challenged for violating the restrictions.

"Nothing was done to them, they were not arrested," said protester Michael Custer, 46. "But we are arrested while we are expressing our constitutional right to free speech."

Once the theater traffic cleared, dozens of state troopers descended on the plaza and began arresting protesters and a journalist for the Nashville Scene, an alternative weekly newspaper.

Troopers arrested 26 people this time. All were charged with trespassing; two were also charged with public intoxication; and one was also charged with criminal impersonation, Department of Safety spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said. The judicial commissioner refused to issue warrants for any of the charges.

Officials said 72 troopers were involved in the curfew enforcement.

"To see it from the other side is even more infuriating," said Chip Allen, one of the protesters arrested in the first raid. "When you're in it, it's almost surreal. This takes on a whole 'nother flavor."

Protesters remaining at the scene vowed to return Saturday, even if it means more arrests.

The arrests came after a week of police crackdowns around the country on Occupy Wall Street activists, who have been protesting economic inequality and what they call corporate greed.

NEW YORK: Six weeks after the Occupy protest began, authorities are trying to turn up the heat, as Mother Nature turns on the cold. On Friday authorities took away gas cans and six power generators, calling them safety hazards.

"My feet are starting to get a little bit cold here," she told CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.

Spencer has knitted 40 hats, scarves, and sets of mittens and donated them to the Occupy comfort station. "People are asking for the mittens - I make more than anything else right now. So I'm going to make as many as I can to help as many people as I can," she said.

Others are gearing up by putting up tents and finding ways to shield themselves from the cold in Zuccotti Park.

Robert Ellis described the order of layering: "Pallets first, then cardboard because it keeps you off the concrete, which is freezing, and then you put tarps over that, and then put your sleeping bag on that."

One refuge for cold protesters is an atrium on Wall Street itself - the irony is that it's owned by a major investment bank. But because of a real estate deal with the city, the area is required to remain open to the public.

Protesters meet there to discuss everything from the wealth gap to the environment. But back at Zuccotti Park, Michigan-born Spencer prefers to brave the elements: "There's definitely a resolve and a dedication in the people I've met here to keep this going until something is accomplished," she said.

Oakland, Calif.: Filmmaker Michael Moore told anti-Wall Street protesters that the Occupy movement - which has spread to cities across America and overseas - in inspiring millions who are angry about corporate excess, income inequality and the failure of politicians to address issues facing the majority of Americans.

"We've killed despair across the country and we've killed apathy," he said.

The director of the documentary films "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Bowling for Columbine" said people throughout the U.S. were "disgusted" and "horrified" when police fired tear gas and bean bags and took other aggressive actions against protesters Tuesday night. Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, 24, remains hospitalized in fair condition with a fractured skull suffered from a projectile fired during a sweep of Frank Ogawa Plaza by police in riot gear. His condition has become a rallying cry at Occupy protests around the world.

Although police cleared protesters and their tents from the plaza Tuesday morning, the protesters and their tents returned the next day, and held a candlelight vigil for Olsen.

Addressing about 1,000 Occupy Oakland protesters in front of City Hall Friday, Moore said the week's events in Oakland will go down as a "watershed moment" in the Occupy Wall Street movement. "Millions have seen this and are inspired by you because you came back the next night," said Moore.

Bangor, Me.: Maine groups aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement plan to rally Saturday. Occupy Bangor said a rally at downtown Bangor's Peirce Park will be followed by a march. The group said participants are organizing to show solidarity for what it calls a "feeling of mass injustice and inequality in America."

In Portland, Occupy Maine said it will also rally Saturday with speakers, music and a march from Monument Square, despite a weather forecast for 6 inches of snow Saturday evening.

Albuquerque, N.M.: Organizers plan a Saturday march at the site where about two dozen protesters were arrested earlier this week. The "1st Amendment Solidarity March" starts at University of New Mexico's Yale Park.

Protesters were arrested after school officials ordered the four-week-old protest site closed over safety concerns. New Mexico State Police raided the spot late Tuesday and have prevented protesters from returning.

Organizers are pressing city officials to allow them to relocate to Robinson Park. Albuquerque protesters met Thursday with Mayor Richard Berry, but Berry did not make a decision. He told protesters he wanted to seek a balance between free speech and public safety.

Burlington, Vt.: More than 100 social activists planned to stay the night in City Hall Park in Burlington as they worked to expand into a 24-hour operation. The Burlington protests began last Sunday, but Friday's effort marked the first time the Vermont movement was going to try to go full time.

City rules don't allow the park to be used between midnight and 6 a.m. But city officials ruled Friday the protesters could stay, as long as no laws were broken and there were no threats to public safety. The city vowed to take a wait-and-see approach to enforcement of the camping ban.

Traverse City, Mich.: Participants in the Occupy protest in this Michigan city plan to collect food, clothing and blankets for the needy.

Donations are expected to be given to area nonprofits.

London, England: A part-time chaplain at St. Paul's Cathedral has become the second churchman to resign over the church's attitude to the protest outside the building. Fraser Dyer said he was "embarrassed" by the decision to take legal action to try to evict the anti-capitalist protesters.

Senior clergyman Giles Fraser resigned earlier, saying he feared moves to evict the protesters could end in violence.

Church and local government authorities are separately going to court to try to evict the protesters, though officials have acknowledged it could take weeks or months to get an order to remove the tent city.

As the iconic church reopened after a weeklong closure triggered by the protest, the City of London Corporation said it was launching legal action on the grounds that the protest is an "unreasonable user of the highway." Scores of tents are pitched on the pedestrianized square in front of the cathedral and near a footpath alongside the building.

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