Occupy protesters vow to continue, plan to speak at City Council meeting Tuesday

November 21, 2011
photo - After everything with the Occupy Colorado Springs protest was cleared from the sidewalks of Acacia Park overnight, some protestors have started to bring back items on Monday morning, November 21, 2011. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT,  THE GAZETTE
After everything with the Occupy Colorado Springs protest was cleared from the sidewalks of Acacia Park overnight, some protestors have started to bring back items on Monday morning, November 21, 2011. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE 

Occupy Colorado Springs protestors plan to speak at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and keep someone on the downtown corner where they’ve been camped out since early October, in the wake of Mayor Steve Bach’s decision late Sunday not to extend a permit for their tents.  

Police dismantled the Occupy Colorado Springs site at Acacia Park early Monday.

On Monday night, about 15 people gathered on the corner of Tejon and Bijou streets for the movement’s nightly meeting and said that they also plan to get signatures of support from local businesses. 

The protesters are part of the loose-knit backlash against corporate greed.

Two messages — “Occupy will not die” and “We’ll be back, Bach!!” — were scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk.

“We’re going to continue; we’re going to stay here,” Mark Coddington, a protester holding a sign reading “Corporation$ own our leaders,” said earlier in the day.

The protesters were informed by letter at 11:01 p.m. Sunday  -- a minute after the park had closed -- that Mayor Steve Bach would not extend the 30-day permit that expired at midnight Sunday.

The protesters were given written and verbal warnings to clear off the corner within two hours — prompting the protesters to remove many of their belongings.

At 1:01 a.m. Monday, code enforcement officers began taking down structures that protesters left at the site, police said.

Patrol officers, the department’s Homeless Outreach Team and SWAT members oversaw security while the code enforcement officers disbanded the site. About 50 protesters watched.

“While protecting First Amendment rights, we must also ensure the public health, safety and welfare in our community,” Bach said in a statement issued by the city. “We have received many complaints, our public safety resources are being taxed, and Downtown is being negatively impacted.”

In the letter denying the permit extension, senior city planner Ryan Tefertiller said protesters repeatedly violated city ordinances and that the protest site wasn’t safe, clean or orderly, adding that police had to respond frequently to the corner because of complaints.

The protest also appeared to move beyond the physical boundaries set in the permit, he wrote, and it was “negatively impacting” downtown businesses.

Coddington and other protesters denied the city’s claims. On Monday morning, about 15 people stood at the southwest corner of the park, some picketing on the sidewalk. A couple shelves and a makeshift bench were also set up after sunrise.

The protesters stood on numerous slogans written in chalk or spray paint on the sidewalk.

“CSPD stole our tents and gave USA revolution,” read an inscription in chalk at the southwest entrance to Acacia Park.

“Do not obey,” as well as an obscenity-laced comment directed at police, were written in red spray paint on the sidewalk about 20 feet away.

Around midday some of the protesters moved to City Hall with tables they had been ordered to remove from Acacia Park. One protestor, 23-year-old Nicholas Galetka, was cited after he refused to remove the tables from the lawn in front of City Hall.

Occupy Colorado Springs organizer Jason Warf, who was out of town Sunday, called the city’s decision “absurd.”

“I feel it was very underhanded as to what the city did,” said Warf, adding he was upset the city did not notify protesters of its decision earlier. “I personally was pretty optimistic this wasn’t going to happen.”

The protest is an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York.

The local protests have been marked by restraint on both sides, despite the city forbidding anyone from remaining in the park overnight or camping on the sidewalk.

Last week, protesters applied for an 11-month extension of the 30-day permit they were given Oct. 21.

Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654
Twitter: @jakobrodgers
Facebook: Jakob Rodgers

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