Hancock issues statement: Protesters vow to continue

Mayor Michael Hancock today issued the following statement regarding the arrest of at least 24 people in Lincoln Park this morning:

As Mayor of this great city, I strongly believe in the public’s right to free speech and assembly. As an elected official, it is my responsibility to balance the First Amendment with concerns for public safety and public health.

That is why I ordered the Denver Police Department to support the Colorado State Patrol’s operation to disperse hundreds of protesters occupying Lincoln Park. The protesters were violating State statutes and City ordinances, and it was necessary to consistently apply the law and discontinue this illegal conduct on public property.

I will continue to support the protesters’ First Amendment rights. We will make every effort to maintain open and amicable conversations with Occupy Denver, while encouraging them to exercise lawful options and hold their protests within the legal parameters of both state and city law.

I also want to commend the Denver Police Department and Colorado State Patrol for their professionalism throughout this operation.

One of the protesters, Jeannie Hartley agreed with Hancock that the arrests were handled as well as could have been expected. “People were handled as respectfully as possible. There was no teargas,” she said.

“Our movement is stronger now than ever before,” she said. “The removal of tents will not slow us down. We are united in all the things we believe are wrong in the country.”

She said she didn’t know if people would be camping out tonight, and if they are, she didn’t know where that would take place.

“There were a lot of homeless people with us, and I’m really worried about them,” she said.

The Occupy Denver camp had attracted dozens of homeless people, probably drawn by the safety and social aspects of being in a group.

“The message of Occupy Denver was never about tents. It was about economic inequality,” said Alan Franklin, spokesperson for ProgressNow Colorado. “I think the occupiers will find a legal and peaceful way to express that going forward.

“I think the police showed restraint in handling the situation,” Franklin said.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.