The battle of words between Mayor Michael Hancock and members of Occupy Denver continued on Wednesday with the group stating that the money the city says it spent dealing with the protestors could have been put to better use had the city worked with Occupy Denver instead of against them.
On their website, the group said the more than $365,000 the city claims it spent dealing with the Occupy Denver protestors who camped out in Civic Center Park since late September could have “put most of the homeless folk that they forcibly evicted from the ‘tent city’ in condos for a year” and still allowed the city to provide the protestors “with electricity, portapotties, and heat for the winter.
“At the very least,” the group said, “that money could have been used for creating jobs or community building.”
Occupy Denver credited Mayor Hancock’s office for the figures when it said that the city spent more than $365,000 in dealing with the protest. The price tag included $237,000 for Denver Police Department, $116,000 for the Denver’s Sheriff’s Department, $10,000 for Denver Health, $1,300 for the Public Works Department and $500 for Environmental Health.
The group renewed its call for Hancock to grant the movement a waiver that would allow them to remain in the park without the threat of arrest. They said they have collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition asking Hancock and Gov. John Hickenlooper to end the arrest of Occupy Denver protestors and pointed to agreements administrations in other cities have made with Occupy protestors.
“In Los Angeles, the Mayor passed out ponchos to occupiers and the homeless. Hundreds of police officers in Albany refused orders to dismantle the Occupation in upstate New York. Many other cities have given up on trying to suppress this movement by force, we urge Denver to follow suit,” the group said.
The possibility of a waiver to allow Occupy Denver protestors to remain encamped in the park seems unlikely following discussion by the City Council to ban camping and sleeping in the downtown area, which would include the area where Occupy Denver protestors have settled.
“Placing a ban on ‘downtown camping’ would attempt to hammer the final nail into the coffin of the Occupy movement in Denver,” the group stated, “by making it illegal for anyone to sleep on a sidewalk, which is where the Occupy Denver exiles are currently situated.
This protest, this Occupation, is an act of free speech and peaceable assembly, protected by the United States Constitution, and the First Amendment has no curfew.”
Earlier, Hancock said, “As I’ve stated … Denver will continue balancing First Amendment rights with concerns for public health and safety, ensuring the law is uniformly and consistently enforced.”