The City of Colorado Springs has dropped its charges against two men who were arrested on suspicion of trespassing at The Broadmoor hotel during a military summit last October.
City prosecutor Katherine Ritchie on Monday notified the attorney for the two defendants, Brian Hildenbrandt and Curt Curtis, that the city would stop pursuing its case against them.
Hildenbrandt and Curtis were accused of entering a large "security zone" set up by city police around The Broadmoor during an Oct. 8-9 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance.
The two men told the Independent last month that they never actually entered the zone but were merely walking along the concrete barriers around it because they were curious. While the two were standing at the edge of a barrier, a military police officer ordered them to move away. But although they obeyed the order, they were still arrested, they said (see "Punk Patrol," Jan. 22, available at www.csindy.com).
Though dozens of peace activists were demonstrating nearby against the summit, Hildenbrandt and Curtis said they weren't protesting and that they don't belong to any political groups.
Still, after being arrested, they were interrogated about their political affiliations by an undercover Colorado Springs police officer who was dressed up as a protester, as well as FBI agents, they said.
Ritchie, the city prosecutor, couldn't be reached for comment by press time. However, the defendants' attorney, Bill Durland, said he believed Ritchie realized there was insufficient evidence that the defendants actually entered the security zone.
Hildenbrandt said he was glad to be off the hook, although he had looked forward to proving his innocence in court.
"It's kind of a hollow victory," he said.
Hildenbrandt, who has questioned the constitutionality of blocking off large public areas around The Broadmoor during the NATO summit, said he and Curtis might file a lawsuit against the city for civil-liberties violations and harassment.
"We're strongly considering it," he said.
-- Terje Langeland
The El Paso County Republican Party may finally have found a candidate to challenge state Rep. Michael Merrifield, a Manitou Springs Democrat, in his re-election bid this fall.
The party confirmed this week that Kent D. Lambert, 51, of Manitou Springs, has expressed his interest in seeking the GOP nomination for House District 18. The district includes much of central and southern Colorado Springs as well as Old Colorado City and Manitou.
Merrifield, 57, won the district in 2002, defeating Republican candidate Dan Stuart by a mere 112 votes to become the first Democratic lawmaker elected from El Paso County in a decade.
Since then, the Republican Party has declared it a top priority to retake Merrifield's seat. But finding a candidate to take on the energetic representative in the moderate-leaning district has proven tough; several potential candidates have reportedly turned down requests to carry the GOP banner.
Lambert, reached by phone at his home, refused to provide any information about himself or his political platform, though he confirmed he would likely seek the seat.
"I'll probably run," he said.
Merrifield says he was told that Lambert recently retired from military service. Lambert registered to vote at his Manitou address last October.
The GOP nomination will be decided at the party's county assembly on May 1.
-- Terje Langeland
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