This weekend, Durango police issued more than a dozen citations to protesters involved in Occupy Durango, a local manifestation of the Occupy movement that has fast swept the country.
Durango Police Department Lt. Ray Shupe confirmed that early Sunday morning, officers cited 13 protesters for trespassing when they refused to leave Fassbinder Park, in violation of a municipal ordinance.
Around 11:20 p.m. Saturday, Shupe said officers circulated paper copies of the ordinance among protesters. The ordinance forbids camping within city limits and prohibits groups from engaging in activity on park grounds after midnight without a permit.
Shupe said 95 percent of the protesters opted to comply with the law, but a handful did not.
We fully respect their rights to protest, so long as they are being lawful and peaceful, he said. Once they reached that point, it became unlawful but before that, it was lawful.
Protesters who received citations were Alexandria Whitten, 21; Max Fields, 20; Sarah Fortman, 21; Melanie Weber-Sauer, 19; Joseph Miranda, 21; Dylan Ruckel, 18; Madalene Andoe, 21; David Wells, 21; Edith Elsner-Ridgeway, 21; Tori Maddux, 19; Lucian Davis, 21; Mary Wolfe, 19; and Alexander Wyckoff, 23.
Of them, the majority are students at Fort Lewis College, and all are from Durango. As of Monday evening, none could be reached for comment.
There were signs of friction between protesters and police Friday.
For much of that evening, the large concrete flower pot that sits at the entrance of Fassbinder Park was emblazoned with chalked messages that read, going clockwise: General Strike, All Cops Are Bastards, The Police Are the Army of the Rich, as well as an imperative declaration pertaining to the police that is unprintable.
Though protesters were scrupulous in clearing Fassbinder Park of debris before heading home even removing cigarette butts strewn by people unassociated with the protest the messages remained until after the sun rose Saturday morning.
While Shupe said the Durango Parks and Recreation Department sent a ranger to talk to the protesters about keeping the park clean, he thought it probable that protesters removed the messages early that morning, entirely on their own initiative.
The chalk scrawling, Shupe said, had not offended Durangos police department.
Police officers get called far worse than that just breaking up bar crowds. I dont think its a common theme of the Occupy protests, he said.
When contacted to comment on anti-police sentiment among protesters, Nathan Coe, an organizer of Occupy Durango, refused to comment and said: Weve agreed, when it comes to The Durango Herald, to only talk to reporters who write stuff that we like.
Protesters, however, generally approved of the job Durango police have been doing.
Cosmo in the Cosmos, who goes by his radio name, said, The cops here in Durango, theyve been OK. Theyve been doing their jobs. They have not been beating us with billyclubs like they do in NYC.
But weve been encountering problems at the park, he said. At midnight theyve been trying to oust us, so you know, weve had a problem there, but as far as violence goes or police brutality, I havent seen any so far, he said.
Beth Jones, 45, who attended Occupy Durango on Friday and Saturday, said, Im not a revolutionary, and Im not interested in confronting the police or breaking laws, but I do think its important to speak up, and Im really happy that Durango has a local group that got together.
Kristina Elote, 21, an FLC student, said the weekends protests had been awesome.
It was so cool to see people getting together and being able to talk about the movement and share their thoughts, everyone working together to get the word out, Elote said.
She took a philosophical view of the citations.
Some people have to stand up for whatever they believe in. Yeah, its in violation but you gotta do what you gotta do and stand up for what youre fighting for, she said.