Denver quiet after police raid Occupy camp

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 29: A policeman in riot gear stands in front of the Colorado state capital building and next to the "Occupy Denver" camp on October 29, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Following a march by protesters, police tried to tear down some newly-erected tents at the encampment and scuffled with demonstrators. Police detained about a half dozen people, pepper-sprayed others and reportedly fired rubber bullets at the crowd during the melee. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore

DENVER - Denver's Civic Center Park is calm a day after Occupy Wall Street protesters clashed with police in the city's most violent confrontation yet.

About 100 people slept overnight in the park, lying near sidewalks under sleeping bags and tarps. There were no tents to be seen, after Denver police and other agencies entered the park Saturday afternoon to tear down tents put up by protesters earlier in the day.

Police confirmed that they used Mace and fired pepper balls - hollow projectiles filled with the chemical irritant - to break up the crowd. Protesters told the paper at the time that they believed police used rubber bullets. Five protesters were arrested, including two for assault and one for disobedience.

"It was just chaos, this wasn't necessary," said protester Chantrell Smiley, 21, of Denver. "My friend got hit with rubber bullets in the face. He was screaming and bleeding, then they Maced him. We're being peaceful. We don't want to be harmed. They came through and took everything down - our food, our blankets, everything's gone."

John Moore/Getty Images

Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said 15 others were arrested in the evening, when authorities were moving to prevent protesters from setting up tents in the park, which are illegal. Murray said that most of the protesters were peaceful but there was "just a die-hard group that didn't want to cooperate."

"We showed great restraint," he said. "We were calm. We went in and did what we had to do. There's a group of very committed people who believe in a cause, and then there are a few people who just want to cause trouble."

About 2,000 people participated in Saturday's march, the fourth weekend for Occupy Wall Street marches through Denver.

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In other "Occupy" developments:

A pair of predawn confrontations between Austin police and Occupy Austin protesters led to 39 arrests.

The first confrontation came about 12:30 a.m. Sunday when officers moved to enforce a new rule banning food tables in the City Hall plaza after 10 p.m.

Austin police told CBS Station KEYE the protestors were warned that three tables needed to come down, and protesters did not comply.

Officers moved in to confiscate the tables. Some protesters surrounded the tables with arms linked.

Police said protesters passively resisted the officers and were taking into custody.

The Austin American-Statesman reports another confrontation came when more than 50 police officers moved to clear an amphitheater on the plaza for a regular power-washing, leading to more arrests.

Most of the protesters, however, remained peaceful and moved to allow the cleaning before returning to their spots.

No injuries were reported.

Atlanta, Ga.: After being evicted from a city park last week, Occupy Atlanta says it's found a new home for its protest — at a shelter for the homeless.

Occupy Atlanta spokeswoman Sara Amis said Sunday several dozen protesters spent Saturday night on the fourth floor of a building used by the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. She says it's possible more could join them.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Amis said the group's priority is to make sure members have a place to sleep.

Occupy Atlanta protesters had been camping out in downtown Atlanta's Woodruff Park since Oct. 7, but they were kicked out last week. Protesters briefly tried staying at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site but soon left.

Rapid City, S.D.: Demonstrations are continuing in Rapid City in protest of corporate welfare, massive unemployment and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. For the second weekend, protesters gathered Saturday in the southwestern South Dakota city carrying signs with messages such as, "Medicare for All" and "The Game is Rigged." About 50 people took part in Saturday's Main Street Square demonstration.

Demonstrator Tom Katus told KEVN-TV that there are both national and local issues on which to focus. Locally, he said he's concerned with the governor receiving more than $200,000 left over from his last campaign.

Iowa: Occupy Wall Street protesters in Des Moines and Iowa City have plenty of concerns about corporate America and the growing gap between rich and poor, but they may soon have a more immediate problem to deal with — an icy Iowa winter.

In Des Moines, up to two dozen people have camped most nights at Stewart Square, a city park about two blocks from the Capitol. As overnight temperatures dip into the low 30s, protesters have bundled up in coats, hats and gloves. Some have already surrounded their tents in layers of cardboard, hay bales and trash bags filled with leaves and tarps.

Protesters said they're committed to staying in the park to draw attention to their concerns.

"I'm equipped to be out here however cold it gets, whether it's 20 degrees above or 20 below," said Bill Lewis, a 31-year-old who receives Social Security disability payments.

Christopher Catron, 17, is camping with friends in a tent surrounded by layers of leaf bags and cardboard. Catron insisted he'll stick it out over the winter.

"Through the winter and next summer or until we win," said Catron, a high school drop-out. "Someday I'll be able to look back and say I helped with the movement and helped with change."

Rod Niemier, 50, doesn't camp at night because of health reasons but he spends up to 10 hours a day at the park. He said protesters have started to build some reinforced structures that have weathered high winds.

"Last night we had 30 mph winds, so I know a blizzard will be no problem," said Niemier, an Air Force veteran who graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2006 but lost his job at a Des Moines manufacturer that makes parts for military equipment.

Although residents and business owners have grown weary with protesters in some cities, there haven't been conflicts with those who live near Stewart Square. The small park is surrounded by a mix of state offices, small businesses and apartment buildings.

Some from the neighborhood have brought food and supplies to the protesters and the campers have organized community dinners each night that are open to area residents.

Peggy Ingram, president of the neighborhood association, said the protesters should be allowed to stay as long as they want. Ingram said she and others would help them with warm meals and blankets.

"We invited them to our neighborhood meeting and everyone welcomed them with open arms," Ingram said.

In Iowa City, about a dozen protesters camp out each night but daily meetings draw as many as 50 with 100 or more participating in marches and rallies, organizer Shay O'Reilly said.

He expects participation to drop off with wintry weather, but a large tent on a wooden frame should help keep protesters warm.