A man with a sign marches down Colfax Avenue. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
The weather in Denver was miserable on Saturday morning. But the steady rain and slate grey sky didn’t extinguish close to three hours of colorful, nonviolent protest. About 300 to 400 people joined Occupy Denver, a group showing solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Together, and marched through the city’s wet streets.
Signs and placards gave indications of marchers’ sentiments.
“We are victims of reverse bank robbery,” read one sign, in the glove-clad hands of a woman who looked to be in her forties.
“The wrong people are in jail; the wrong people are in power,” read another, held by a man in a black jacket, with hood drawn, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, like those associated with hacker group Anonymous. Next to him another masked protester held a sign above his head: “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
Protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks hold signs on the side of Broadway Street at Civic Center Park. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
The marchers started at noon by filing up the steps of Colorado’s capitol building and chanting “we are the 99 percent” against the blare of horns from passing motorists on Broadway Street. A mix of people gathered at the capitol: anarchists, students, mothers with children, the old and the young.
After a briefing on the importance of following the law and sticking to the sidewalk, especially since the group did not have a permit for the march, as well as impassioned speeches from speakers who vented their frustrations against corporate greed and the ability of corporations to fund political campaigns, the procession streamed down Colfax Avenue.
Protesters hold the American flag on the steps of Colorado’s capitol building. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
A woman in a Guy Fawkes mask outside the capitol building. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
Marchers on the steps of the capitol building. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
As protesters passed the glowing signs of fast food mainstays, McDonald’s and Wendy’s, and other stores various mantras echoed down the line. Marchers energetically repeated “People united will never be divided,” “Occupy Denver, occupy Wall Street, occupy America,” and “Banks got bailed out we got sold out.”
“Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like,” also bounced back and forth between marchers.
The police followed closely. Officers on bicycles glided on the periphery. At some intersections police parked their cars and stopped traffic to let the marchers pass. Some motorists honked their horns, seemingly to show support, but not all were pleased.
“Hurry the fuck up,” floated from the window of an SUV idling at a crossing, its driver impatient to get going, unwilling to waste precious weekend minutes.
The procession turned around at the Ogden Theater, took to the other side of the street, and filed back to the capitol building. At this point shoes were sodden. After regrouping in front of the Capitol, the marchers took to the 16th Street Mall, en route to the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve, where they eventually congregated. Some customers in the bars and restaurants on the popular downtown artery slipped out to take a look, while others peered through the windows, expressions hard to read. Encased in the Sheraton Hotel, five men in shirts and ties looked down from above – a warm, dry world away from the sopping protesters.
There were no incidents or arrests, Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson told the Denver Post on Saturday. Jackson confirmed this statement in a telephone interview on Sunday morning.
Since marchers complied with traffic rules and didn’t march in the street or take over intersections they did not engage in illegal activity, Jackson explained when asked if the march was illegal since Occupy Denver had no permit.
People have a right to walk anywhere they want in the city, as long as they obey the rules, he said.
If a protester injured somebody else that would put them on the wrong side of the law, he explained.
Jackson declined to say how many police officers were deployed to monitor the march, citing public safety reasons.
A man in orange jacket holds a sign outside the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
“To try and keep it legal and to try and stay on the good side of the police we want to try and follow the laws, said Law Johnston, who volunteered to work with the safety team for the march.
Johnston, who is part of We Are Change Colorado, a 9-11 truth group, was standing outside the Federal Reserve, after most marchers had returned to Civic Center Park. He wore a black leather jacket, with orange (Occupy Denver’s color of solidarity) tape on the shoulders, like epaulettes, and black, fingerless gloves. A loudhailer, with a sticker – “live free or die” – was slung over his shoulder.
Keeping people out of the street was a safety issue and it was important to show the police that marchers could proceed with dignity and honor, he said.
The police did a “great job,” said Johnston. “We really appreciate what they’ve done to help us out here.”
When asked to comment on whether the Occupy movement was lacking fixed goals, he replied, “the one goal that everybody is after is freedom, really – it’s economic freedom.”
Johnston gave a version of a conspiracy theory that blames a core of European elites, who allegedly control the world economy and the Federal Reserve, for engineering economic collapses throughout history.
“We have a foreign occupying force that controls our economic system from the top to the bottom and we, the people, know who you are and we are coming after you and there is nowhere you can hide,” he said.
A man holds one corner of the American flag outside the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve. Photo: Brendon Bosworth
Holding a hand-written sign on the side of Broadway Street, next to Civic Center Park, where Occupy Denver has erected its headquarters, Julie DonCarlos said she did not join the march, but was showing her support for the movement. After working in marketing for various corporate clients for 25 years, she now runs her own business, booking bands for weddings. She was an Obama delegate in 2008, she said.
DonCarlos laughed when asked about one impact she’d like to see come from the Occupy movement. For her, many changes need to be made in the U.S.
“We need to keep money out of politics,” she said, in reference to the corporate funding of politicians. “Elections are bought and sold.”
DonCarlos also said healthcare should not be a for-profit industry and that banks need to be better regulated.
“The U.S. needs to stop invading other countries,” she said.
Also on the roadside was Robert Chase, a 52-year old medical marijuana activist from the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers. A member of the Colorado Triple Nine Society, a group whose members have tested at, or higher than, the 99.9th percentile on various adult intelligence tests, Chase described himself as a socialist.
Chase said he had been waving a sign that read “End corporate personhood now.”
He referred to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Electoral Commission decision (which, last year, gave corporations the right to spend unlimited cash on political campaigns) as a “disaster for the independence of American elections.”