Occupy Denver march halts traffic; no one arrested
Denver — (AP) — Boisterous but peaceful Occupy Denver protesters marched through downtown Thursday chanting “We are the 99 percent” and bringing traffic to a halt.
Police followed them on horseback, motorcycles and bicycles but made no move to arrest anyone or clear the streets. Officers in squad cars zipped ahead to block traffic on cross streets once it was clear which direction the crowd was moving.
There appeared to be little or no violence, although one protester threw a small white object at an SUV that darted out of an alley and forced one marcher to jump out of the way.
After a rally outside the Denver City and County Building, protesters streamed down a pedestrian mall, stopping in front of a Federal Reserve branch to denounce big banks and corporate excess. They briefly blocked at least two busy intersections before returning to the downtown park where they started.
The crowd appeared to number about 100. Police said they don’t issue crowd estimates.
A similar scene involving a crowd of about 300 played out again in the evening.
The rally and march were among several staged across the nation to mark the date two months ago when the Occupy protests started.
One of the Denver protesters, Claudia Livingston, 63, said she lost her job after eight years and hasn’t been able to find another. She had to move out of her home and rent it out to pay the mortgage, she said.
“I can’t afford to live in my own home,” Livingston said.
She went to Thursday’s rally to protest what she called violations of the First Amendment Rights of some Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Some Denver bystanders looked on with amusement and few appeared upset — not even the drivers who were forced to wait while the crowd blocked intersections.
“It’s good to be right here and see it,” said Kai Syliece, 19, who was driving to a college class when she had to wait for the marchers to pass. “We’ve been talking about this in class.”
Russ Glissmann, 48, watched as four protesters briefly sat in the middle of a street facing a half-dozen police cars before they stood and retreated to the curb.
“I think they’re absurd,” said Glissmann, who works in information technology.
He said he had no beef with the protesters’ message, only their methods.
“They have yet to say how they want (the economic system) changed,” he said. “They’re causing more problems than they’re solving.”
Police spokesman John White said he didn’t know whether the protesters had a permit to march but said the department has allowed the protesters to stage previous marches without official permission.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that’s been the city’s position throughout the protests
“The whole idea (is), we’re not trying to provoke,” Hancock said.
“We believe that their right to free speech and assembly is first and foremost,” Hancock said, adding that police have confronted protesters only when a situation threatens the health and safety of the public or the protesters.
Police and protesters have had three run-ins, twice at the protesters’ encampment near the state Capitol and once on the Capitol steps.
Three protesters face state felony charges from two of those incidents, prosecutors said Thursday. The charges include inciting a riot, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
Prosecutors said at least 23 others have been issued citations on state misdemeanor charges, and more may have been issued citations for violating city ordinances.