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Firsthand account of Occupy Denver protests

11:17 AM, Oct 14, 2011   |    comments
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As you're reading this, I'll likely be in bed after covering the Occupy Denver movement downtown for 10 hours. Hopefully my journalism was fair, objective and accurate.

Covering protests are challenging because any observations I make, how I phrase words and my tone of voice can be interpreted as bias.

There's no doubt there's a lot of passion behind the protests and a lot of skepticism too. I tried to be as neutral as possible while making significant observations.

My work began Thursday night/Friday morning after a regular shift at work. I got home, but I couldn't sit still as the Occupy Movement was making news. I headed downtown with the intent to tweet everything I saw.

You can read all of my twitter posts here. You'll have to scroll down quite a bit to see my first tweet with the #occupydenver hashtag. I did quite a bit of tweets.

There was so much I saw and experienced, it's hard to put everything in a nutshell. But here are my impressions:

On the Protestors:

  • Most protestors wanted to be peaceful. Some tried to echo this attitude with megaphones. They were successful at peace for the most part.
  • A very small minority of protestors seemed to be troublemakers. One suggested to break into the Governor's house. At the end of the protest, some were yelling a lot of cuss words at police and calling them pigs. It was clear these few protestors were trying to bait police.
  • While there was no clear leader or organizer, some protestors wearing orange vests tried to self-police the crowd. In many cases they were successful by removing drunks who were causing trouble. They also did a good job of keeping people from entering Broadway.
  • Rumors were rampant in the crowd. Several times some protestors announced with assurance police were coming at a specific moments.
  • Spirits were high and there was a lot of comradery among protesters.

LISTEN: HEAR THE VOICE OF THE OCCUPY DENVER PROTESTERS

On our presence:

  • Someone said they saw a protestor throw a rock at our news unit. I didn't see this.
  • I mentioned on air that some protestors seemed to be aggressively posturing at the capitol building. Later we were yelled at by a guy with a megaphone who said we were promoting violence on air.
  • Many protesters were happy we were there to document and observe and thanked us.
  • One protestor started verbally attacking the wife of one of my co-workers.
  • One protestor was a champ and stood behind our crew and looked out for us as encounters between some protestors and police got intense.
  • People who were able to see our live video coverage said we did a good job and actually came up to us on scene to shake our hands. That felt good.

On police presence:

  • I expected people to physically resist once police started breaking down and removing tents. That didn't happen. Protestors mainly watched officers in riot gear dismantle tents methodically.
  • With loads of vulgarities tossed at police towards the end of the protest, officers didn't seem phased at all. They remained stoic and reserved.
  • Organization was clear. It was clear there was a plan to surround protestors bit by bit. It also seemed police didn't move in quickly. They waited until the weary went home and the crowd got smaller.

Overall:

In the end it was a fascinating scene to see everything play out. Props to the peaceful protestors. Props to the police who restrained themselves despite some pretty inciting comments from some people. With the exception of a few bad protestors, this event didn't result in serious injury or death.

While some have said there is no clear message among the protestors, it is clear they don't like corporate greed and its influence over government.

To see Jeremy Jojola's photos that he took on his cell phone, visit his blog here, http://jeremyjojola.com/2011/10/14/in-the-middle-of-occupy-denver-what-i-saw-pics-below/.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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