Report Back from Denver’s Restore the 4th & Boycott the Palm: Police Targeting Protesters, Police Assault, Threats of Rape
It’s been said by some that Occupy Denver does not give the Denver Police Department the respect they deserve. To that end we would ask what respect should we give to a violent and patriarchal institution that serves only those in power and uses threats of rape to try to intimidate into silence those who dissent? DPD has no respect for the people whom they purport to “protect and serve” nor any allegiance to the constitution for which they “swore” an oath to uphold. DPD has a long and ongoing history of violence, corruption, operating with impunity and zero accountability. At Denver’s Restore The Fourth Amendment March on July 4th Dist. 6 Officer Mark Moore assaulted a woman by running into her, and over her foot with a motorcycle. DPD then wrongfully arrested her, and one other person. This is not the first time Officer Moore has done this. On October 14th 2011 he ran over another protestor’s foot with a motorcycle. For more info on this thug please visit West Denver Copwatch. For videos of the protest click here and here.
On July 5th 2013 at approximately 5:45 p.m. Catherine Keffer arrived at Boycott the Palm. Here is Catherine’s account:
“There were already several other protesters actively expressing their disapproval of The Palm’s support of the Urban Camping Ban. There were also approximately 7 DPD officers and Sgt. Ortega present. Myself and Alex Pickruhn were on the corner of 17th and Arapahoe holding a banner and passing out fliers.
We walked back around to the main protest area. As we walked by there were 4 officers on motorcycles. They were met with verbal frustrations over their continued misconduct and abuse of power. One officer said to Mr. Pickruhn, ‘I hope that your mother is raped so that I can respond to the call to help her.’
We continued to protest at The Palm until approximately 9:20 p.m. at which point we left to walk down the 16th Street Mall towards the ArtWalk. We noticed two officers in a cruiser that had been parked at Boycott the Palm. They noticed us, made eye contact and continued driving. We saw them turn around on the mall and begin following us, but they were still a block away so we were unsure what they were doing. As we were crossing the crosswalk, the same cruiser sped up past us and turned into the next alleyway. We continued walking. As we approached the alley one of the officers lunged at us, grabbing Mr. Pickruhn saying “come here”. Mr. Pickruhn was forced to the ground, put in handcuffs and taken into the alley, out of visible sight. They immediately searched him and all of his possessions, forming a wall of officers to block what was happening in the alley from me and any other people walking by.
While all of this was happening Sgt. Ortega pulled up in a cruiser, parked in the middle of the mall and approached me, attempting to grab my wrist. I immediately put my hands up and asked repeatedly if I was being detained. Sgt. Ortega only said that I was with someone who threatened his officer and that I could be detained but they never actually detained me. I was told that if we would have conducted ourselves more “professionally” this wouldn’t be happening. I was also told that Sgt. Ortega and other officers would harass me as long as I continued to conduct myself in this manner. My wallet was in the backpack that was being carried by Mr. Pickruhn at the time. Sgt. Ortega asked if I wanted it back but demanded an apology for my behavior in order to get it.
Upon searching Mr. Pickruhn, the officers found marijuana which he is legal to have. The Denver officers claimed that it was for distribution and arrested him. They also seized all of our money, which wasn’t very much, and put it in evidence rather than in his personal property. Mr. Pickruhn was arrested and transported to the Denver City Jail.
At approximately 12:55 a.m. I was on the 16th street mall charging my phone in hopes of accepting Alex Pickruhn’s call from jail. As I sat there alone, the 2 officers on motorcycles that were there earlier at Boycott the Palm, one of them is Officer McGrail and the other unknown, drove up, parking approximately 5 feet from where I was sitting. They stayed there, stared at me, wouldn’t say anything to me and didn’t leave until after I left with a concerned friend who had walked up.
At approximately 1:15, July 6th, I spoke with Alex Pickruhn via video phone at the city jail. Mr. Pickruhn told me he was threatened by DPD that they were going to find me and “get me alone”, while he was in jail the night before. Knowing that i am his girlfriend, it was clear what they were implying. I have safe places to stay and friends. I am actively seeking assistance in raising $350 to post bond tonight so that he will be released tomorrow morning after going through pretrial services. Any other donations for legal costs would be greatly appreciated”
Alex Pickruhn has no official charges against him, he is being held on $2000 bail for felony investigation for possession with intent to distribute when he was originally stopped for allegedly verbally threatening an officer even though the only threats came from the police officers themselves. He has told the Occupy Denver Legal Support Team that he is being mistreated in jail and is concerned for his safety. We are collecting funds to post bond and get him released as quickly as possible. Please click here for our legal fund donation page if you are able to help.
The 2 arrested during the Restore the 4th March were released on bond thank you to everyone who donated!
Whether you are protesting the erosion of our rights both constitutional and innate, or boycotting a classist restaurant that supported making homelessness illegal there is no excuse for us to allow DPD or any “law enforcement” to threaten, harass, and assault members of the community. If DPD can’t get their cops under control then police abolition is inevitable. When the corporately run government can decide they can overrule your rights, we can decide to overrule the government.