Wednesday, November 23, 2011

OCS responds to Bach

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Early Monday morning, the Occupiers in Acacia Park saw their tents confiscated by the city. They'd been denied their application for an extension to their 30-day revocable permit — something that the city didn't bother to tell them until 11 p.m. Sunday night.

Representatives from Occupy Colorado Springs sent out this press release, addressing their eviction from the park's right-of-way, as well as comments made by the mayor, Steve Bach, such as this one: "We have received many complaints, our public safety resources are being taxed, and Downtown is being negatively impacted.”

From the occupiers:

In response to this, we have not only adhered to every condition of the permit but we have went above and beyond to add to the community as a whole. We have a homeless work group who feeds people. We also give rides to detox as well as shelters and soup kitchens when need be. We clean not only Acacia Park on a regular basis but also direct our marches to clean other parks and the the streets in the surrounding area. Many times we have acted as triage when someone is hurt or sick in the park until help can arrive. We have also defused several situations in the park that would have otherwise needed police assistance.

It was stated that there have been multiple violations of said permit at the park. We have had two “random” visits from city code inspectors. Both times we were told by the inspector that we were in fact not in violation of anything. He was very impressed with the cleanliness and our compliance with the terms of the permit.

In the media the Mayor has stated that there have been complaints from both local businesses and citizens in the area. Our support from businesses in the area has been overwhelming and again we are yet to hear any negative feedback from businesses surrounding the park. The support from the community and citizens in the neighborhood has been overwhelming! Everything that Occupy uses to sustain comes from donations from said people and businesses. It should also be stated that on Tuesday(11-15-11) in a recorded conversation I was told by the Mayor's office that we have had no formal complaints about Occupy.

We have received support from State Representative Pete Lee, some city council members, and until last evening the members of the Homeless Outreach Team of CSPD including their supervisor, Lt Rigdon.

During a conversation with Lt. Rigdon of the Homeless Outreach Team we were told that police calls have been cut in half since our occupation of Acacia Park. Acacia Park is known for crime and drugs and we have received nothing but praise from the community for helping to diminish this.

Take the jump and read their full press release.

At 11pm Sunday November 20th members of the CSPD’s HOT (Homeless Outreach Team) and El Paso County’s Code Enforcement arrived on the SW corner of Acacia Park to serve the members of Occupy Colorado Springs (OCS) with notice that Mayor Steve Bach and Interim City Manager Steve Cox had declined to renew the permit that had allowed for the information tent, kitchen and booths in the park.

Being that that was the case CSPD and Code Enforcement then gave OCS a 2 hour window to address the situation and to propose solutions for how to best comply while adhering to the principles set forth in the Constitution. During this period of deliberation it was agreed upon that OCS would remove technology, literature, food and personal belonging but that the tents would be left up and intact as it is OCS’ belief that the tents are an expression of protest and therefore protected by the First Amendment.

As of 1 am, several members of Code Enforcement and dozens of police officers were on scene to both facilitate and supervise the dismantling of OCS’ structures while roughly 50 OCS supporters gathered to peacefully voice their displeasure, albeit vociferously.

Please make note of some of the following facts:

- Multiple phone calls were made to the City of Colorado Springs on both Friday and Saturday to check on the status of the request to renew the permit. None of these phone calls were successful in eliciting a response. The city could have saved thousands of dollars had they informed us on the prior Friday that the permit will be expiring.

The Notice & Order that was given to us the night of the police raid states:

" YOU ARE HEREBY ORDERED to do one of the following:
1. Remove, correct pr otherwise abate the above violations prior to reinspection date(s) noted in the Violation Table.
2. Appeal this Notice and Order. (See General Information Sheet attached). "

We were not given a chance to appeal the Notice and order, and we were also not given a General Information Sheet that was supposed to be attached and we have video evidence proving thus.

- Permit holders were not given a personal letter explaining the revocation until a day after it was dated, November 20, 2011. This letter indicates that the number of police calls near the permit area are significantly higher than previous periods, that individuals associated with the permitted activities are repeatedly and routinely violating several City parking ordinances, that we have not kept our area safe, clean, and orderly, that privately owned items have extended beyond those areas illustrated on the revokable permit site plan, that free-standing signs have been placed in adjacent landscape beds, and that our Occupation is negatively impacting downtown business owners in the immediate area.

In response to this, we have not only adhered to every condition of the permit but we have went above and beyond to add to the community as a whole. We have a homeless work group who feeds people. We also give rides to detox as well as shelters and soup kitchens when need be. We clean not only Acacia Park on a regular basis but also direct our marches to clean other parks and the the streets in the surrounding area. Many times we have acted as triage when someone is hurt or sick in the park until help can arrive. We have also defused several situations in the park that would have otherwise needed police assistance.

It was stated that there have been multiple violations of said permit at the park. We have had two “random” visits from city code inspectors. Both times we were told by the inspector that we were in fact not in violation of anything. He was very impressed with the cleanliness and our compliance with the terms of the permit.

In the media the Mayor has stated that there have been complaints from both local businesses and citizens in the area. Our support from businesses in the area has been overwhelming and again we are yet to hear any negative feedback from businesses surrounding the park. The support from the community and citizens in the neighborhood has been overwhelming! Everything that Occupy uses to sustain comes from donations from said people and businesses. It should also be stated that on Tuesday(11-15-11) in a recorded conversation I was told by the Mayor's office that we have had no formal complaints about Occupy.

We have received support from State Representative Pete Lee, some city council members, and until last evening the members of the Homeless Outreach Team of CSPD including their supervisor, Lt Rigdon.

During a conversation with Lt. Rigdon of the Homeless Outreach Team we were told that police calls have been cut in half since our occupation of Acacia Park. Acacia Park is known for crime and drugs and we have received nothing but praise from the community for helping to diminish this.

- The heightened security and police presence for no legitimate reason is costing tax payers money we, as a municipality cannot afford. Nearly an extra $10,000 was spent on security during the Veteran's Day Parade due to our peaceful assembly and hundreds if not thousands more to dismantle canopies which represent our Constitutional Rights.

- Our attorneys feel that authorities have acted unjustly and will be looking in to legal action.

As a whole we are saddened by all of this misinformation coming out of Mayor Bach's office and the city's choice to spend tax dollars on peaceful citizens exercising their first amendment rights. We have tried everything in our power to work with the city to have a peaceful co-existence. We were setting an example for cities worldwide of what the Occupy movement could and should be. People working with people. Instead the city has chosen to take a route that will cost tax payers greatly, all because of the opinion of one man. Occupy will be moving forward with both direct and civic action against the city. This is not the route that we chose and this is not a route that our city can afford.

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