Caving to the pressure brought about by Senator Brophy and conservative talk radio, Governor Hickenlooper finally enforced the law and evicted the squatters at the Occupy Denver camp last night. After debating himself in the media for three days about whether he could actually doing anything about the growing camp of miscreants and bored college kids, Governor Hickenlooper decided that the rule of law was worth something after all.
Despite telling protesters they had to leave by 11 pm, the Colorado State Patrol and the Denver Police Department didn't begin rolling into the squatter camp until 3:15 am. In a display of professionalism and restraint the riot police slowly worked their way through the trustafarian tent city, dismantling tents and removing the "smelly hippie" infestation that had grown to over 60 tents and nearly 1000 people by late Thursday evening.
Eli Stokols of Fox31 reports that two dozen people were arrested, with no injuries reported.
As Kyle Clark of 9News noted on Twitter last night, the DPD got $50 million in grants for hosting Obama's Democrat National Convention in 2008, including over $1 million in riot gear. The still shiny new gear was on full display last night as seemingly endless lines of riot police blanketed Veteran's Park, bringing the rule of law down on the "Denver occupiers."
In finally caving to the call began by Senator Brophy on these pages to enforce the law and "boot" the squatters, the Governor had found himself a few new enemies, including the dangerous hacker group Anonymous who played a role in covering and spreading word of the shut down around the world.
Anonymous is a collective of "hacktivists" who have been responsible for taking down websites as supposedly secure as the Defense Department and major Fortune 500 corporations. The Governor might want to hope he doesn't have any skeletons in any online closets.
The park where the squatters had taken over was still closed this morning per Executive Order, and police were keeping protesters from restarting their occupation.
Yesterday was the worst day of Governor Hickenlooper's tenure, abruptly ending his nearly nine month honeymoon. Once seemingly unable to attract public criticism, protesters had more than a few unkind words for the state's CEO.
It was a striking scene. Barely three years after the coronation of Barack Obama in Denver, the Mile High City became the site of the first forced mass eviction of Occupy squatters. Many in the crowd who only 36 months ago were chanting "Yes, We Can" had changed their tune to "No, You Can't" — a stark reversal in the face of a flagging economy and little leadership from the White House.
Here in Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper is undoubtedly worse for the wear after this incident. Conservatives are now starting to see him as a pandering squishbag, incapable of enforcing the rule of law on his own side of the political aisle without being badgered into it. Liberals now think he hates free speech and is willing to bring riot police to break up their peaceful protesters.
Sticking in the squishbag middle, Hickenlooper ended up pleasing none of the people, none of the time.
Not making decisions, nor picking sides, has finally come home to roost for Governor Chickenlooper.
(Photo Credit: WhoSaidYouSaid)