Based on news stories, video, and reports from participants and legal observers at Occupy Denver, attorneys at the ACLU are concerned that what had initially been characterized as a policy of admirable restraint in regard to activists at the Occupy Denver site has now evolved into an unwise policy of unnecessarily confrontational and provocative police tactics.
“Denver police commanders made a serious mistake when they sent riot-equipped officers into a crowd of protesters for the purpose of dismantling tents,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “In order to enforce a minor ordinance that forbids erecting tents in parks, officers angered the crowd and provoked an unnecessary physical confrontation that led to arrests and reports of excessive and unjustifiable force. There was no emergency that required immediate police action to take down the tents.”
To further investigate reports of excessive force, the ACLU on Tuesday filed comprehensive requests with the Denver Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol for use-of-force reports, after-action reports and other documents relating to recent enforcement actions with regard to Occupy Denver.
“From its beginnings at Lincoln Park, the ACLU of Colorado has watched and listened at Occupy Denver,” said ACLU Executive Director C. Ray Drew. “We have distributed information on individual rights when dealing with the police and maintained a steady presence. At the end of the day, our vigilance speaks to core mission: the protection of civil rights and civil liberties for all people.”