Occupy Denver Waiting for Collective Thinking to Provide Next Move

On Friday September 23, 2011, protesters gathered in a park across from the State Capitol in Denver, Colorado, and Occupy Denver was born. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Denver has followed a similar path to other Occupy protests: An eclectic group of anarchists and politically left-leaning protesters gathered near the State Capitol, they set up tent villages and makeshift kitchens, had run-ins with police in riot gear who did not allow the tent village to stand, made headlines from their clashes with police, and famous supporters of the Occupy movement visited the Denver protesters. Although reasons for protesting are varied, “We are the 99%” is the slogan common among them. This slogan calls attention to the fact that marchers are not part of the 1 percent of Americans who hold a vast portion of the nation’s wealth.

The most recent Occupy Denver rally was held on Saturday, November 19, 2011. Several hundred protesters gathered at Civil Center Park, located next to the State Capitol. This rally was smaller than the previous seven Saturday rallies. The protesters marched through downtown then gathered in front of the State Capitol. According to the Denver Post, protesters then took turns speaking on the megaphone. Poems and prepared speeches were read. Protesters were urged not to shop on Black Friday as a way to protest.

Patrons at the Occupy movement appear to be united on the belief that the richest 1 percent of people seem to be writing the rules of the global economy and they agree that it is not fair. Beyond that belief, no consensus of what to do about it appears to exist. It appears that the medium being used to build a consensus exists within the general assemblies that are held every day at Civil Center Park; one at 3 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. These assemblies are defined by the OccupyWallSt.org as “…a non-binding consensus-based collective decision-making tool known as a people’s assembly.” The format of these assemblies is taken directly from the Puerta del Sol Protest Camp organized in Madrid, Spain. Shortly before each general assembly, a facilitator calls for agenda items and announcements. Once the assembly starts, only the facilitator and the designated topic speaker are allowed to talk. Everyone else is requested to use a series of non-verbal hand and finger movements to express their points. A vibe watcher is appointed at each meeting to watch for intense emotions that could disrupt the meeting; and interfere if necessary.

It is unclear if the general assemblies are responsible for making this decision but on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, protesters received non-violence training. Based on the peaceful outcome of Saturday’s rally, the training was successful.

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