Governor Boots Occupy Denver Out Of Park

Hickenlooper, Suthers, Hancock Say Protestors Cannot Camp Overnight

The governor announced Thursday that the Occupy Denver group will no longer be allowed to camp overnight in downtown Denver.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said that they can gather at the park between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m., but they cannot camp in the park in front of the capitol.

"We've never let the homeless camp in parks, we don't see how we can let other groups camp in parks," Hickenlooper said.

State law states they cannot camp, sleep, litter, loiter, create open fires, and create unsanitary conditions on state land, said Attorney General John Suthers, who was at the news conference with Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael Hancock.

The Occupy Denver movement has grown to nearly 60 tents in Veterans Park, which features an obelisk monument between the Capitol and Civic Center Park.

Protesters say it's their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble there.

But Hancock said this is not a First Amendment issue, it's an issue about the health, safety and well being of the people of Occupy Denver as well as the people who live, work and play in Denver.

Occupy Denver argued that its encampment is not creating a public nuisance and it is not a sanitary issue.

"Although they're trying to create one by denying port-o-lets," said protester Robert Chase. "I think the governor is a very poor observer of what's going on immediately in front of his office."

State leaders say protesters have been given notice every day since Monday that camping was illegal. Those same leaders did not say how they planned to enforce the law from here moving forward.

The governor was then asked if that meant there would be no arrests.

"I didn't say that," he responded.

"Should he do that, he'll find some people here who will resist," said Chase.

"I'm willing to be arrested for the cause, absolutely," said protester Sean Reeve.

"If Hickenlooper throws us out it's only going to create more steam for the locomotive," said another protester.

"They have no argument that, if we take enforcement action, this is somehow a repression of their First Amendment rights," said Suthers.

It's not clear if the Denver Police Department or the Colorado State Patrol would enforce the no-camping rule.

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