We ran into Congressman Ed Permutter (Colorado’s 7th District) on the 16th Street Mall in Denver. Visibly shaken, he began to tell us of the “overwhelming force” used by the Denver Police Department in an apparent attempt to dismantle a free food table on the sidewalk at the OccupyDenver site.
After a peaceful and spirited march by an estimated 1,000 protesters, most in from the suburbs, the Denver Police apparently tried to take down a food distribution stand and were met with resistance by some OccupyDenver people. As Congressman Perlmutter, and eyewitnesses that I talked to later, tell it, the DPD used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and large batons to gas, spray and beat bystanders.
Congressman Perlmutter, who had been attending a Colorado Woman’s Summit meeting in Denver, featuring Congresswoman Diana DeGette, when he got word of the confrontation right down the street, rushed down to the Civic Center Park and attempted to mediate between police and protesters. Unsuccessful in de-escalating the violence, he told us of the protesters being tear gassed, pepper sprayed and beaten. “Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten involved.” He looked down at his immaculate brown suit, shirt and tie. “And I really wasn’t dressed for the occasion.”
He advised us not to return to the park because of the huge police presence. But my friend and I looked at each other and off we went. The sequel tomorrow, with pictures, including what the how the police get ready to gas a crowd and how big those batons really are when you are face to face with one.