Michael Moore visits Occupy Denver protesters
Denver (AP) — Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore told Occupy Wall Street supporters in Denver on Thursday to be mindful of people trying to incite violence within the movement, saying they could be working undercover for the government.
Moore told a few hundred people gathered at a park across from the state Capitol to be weary of "provocateurs who try start to violence."
He claimed that governments have a long history of infiltrating protest movements.
"They want to ignite something to give them a reason to act violently against you," he said. "If you see somebody who says they're a member of this group trying to behave in a violent manner, you must surround that person with love and stop them."
Moore, who has been visiting Occupy Wall Street supporters in several cities, said he was in Oakland, Calif., last weekend. Conflicts between protesters and police there have escalated in recent days.
He told supporters in Denver that they're "on the right track." At one point, someone in the crowd yelled a question to Moore, asking him when he would make a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"Is it OK to say that I've been making 'Occupy' movies for 20 years?" he said to cheers. Moore's movies include "Fahrenheit 9/11," ''Sicko," and "Capitalism: A Love Story."
As Moore walked through the crowd, a KCNC-TV reporter asked Moore whether he was part of the 1 percent of people the protesters say they are rallying against.
"I do very well," Moore responded. "Because I do well, I want taxes raised on people who do well, including mine."
Occupy Wall Street supporters in Denver have been stationed across the street from the state Capitol for weeks, but group members said they'll move Saturday to give space for a parade honoring veterans in Civic Center Park.
One of the group's organizers, Jason Roth, 33, said protesters will be across from downtown's Federal Reserve building until Sunday or Monday. Members plan to march in front of downtown banks Saturday to urge people to close their national bank accounts and transfer their money to local credit unions.
Denver protesters have had the largest turnout during weekend marches, sometimes drawing up to 2,000 supporters. On Saturday, protesters had their tensest confrontation with authorities yet, with police using pellets filled with pepper spray. Ultimately, 15 people were arrested in the evening at the park across the street from the Capitol.
The arrests came when police in riot gear moved to prevent protesters from setting up tents in the park, which is illegal. Officials said the demonstrators had been warned several times that the tents would not be allowed, and those who attempted to stop police from dismantling the camp gear were arrested.
Roth said he believes "through and through that this is a nonviolent movement" and that he'll be pushing for a zero-tolerance policy on violence.
"I do feel that our message does get lost when that big conflict happens," he said.
In California, Occupy Wall Street supporters condemned demonstrators who clashed with police outside the Port of Oakland, resulting in more than 80 arrests.
Pamela Zubal, 29, said she didn't know all the details of what happened in Oakland but emphasized that the Denver movement remained committed to peaceful demonstrations. She said authorities are sometimes responsible for escalating confrontations with protesters.
"All I can say, from our experience here, when cops come in in riot gear, it takes the situation to a different level," she said.