DENVER A tent village has sprung up over the last several days at a park across the street from the Colorado Capitol, with dozens of people saying theyre out in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York.
Protesters said theyve had a presence at a park on state land since Sept. 23, but recent cold weather has prompted their stay in about 26 tents or shelters made from wood and tarps.
A makeshift kitchen made from 2-by-4s and tarps provides snacks and bottled water to the dozens who say they plan to camp there through the winter, as well as providing meals such as oatmeal and coffee for breakfast and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for lunch.
Colorado State Patrol officials who are responsible for the park did not have any immediate word about whether the protesters will be removed. State Rep. Wes McKinley of Walsh said he would spend a few nights camped in a teepee and a bed roll with the protesters while hes in town on legislative business.
McKinley served as foreman on a grand jury from 1989 to 1991 that investigated claims of contamination at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant and a longtime critic of the federal governments cleanup.
In Colorado Springs, protesters have set up four tents on the edge of a park downtown and have been staying overnight since Friday. Colorado Springs police spokesman Sgt. Steve Noblitt said overnight stays in the park are prohibited.
Rallies protesting the governments response to financial crises were also planned this week in Boulder, Longmont, Durango and Fort Collins, where protesters decided Monday to take shifts to keep their rally going 24 hours a day indefinitely, said Fort Collins rally spokesman Dan Michniewicz.
The nearly 4-week-old protest that began in a lower Manhattan park has taken on a semblance of organization, and a coherent message has largely emerged: That the 99 percent who struggle daily as the economy shudders, employment stagnates and medical costs rise are suffering as the 1 percent who control the vast majority of the economys wealth continues to prosper.
While many at the encampment at the Capitol echoed that message, people had varied reasons for being there. Peter Brandt of Portland, Ore., was putting on a shirt outside a tent and said hes stranded in Denver, temporarily homeless and is there because theres amenities that include food. Jonathan Dubinsky, a civil engineering student at the University of Colorado-Denver, was playing a drum in an impromptu musical group that included a guitar and said he was there to learn about sustainable cities as part of his studies.
Protesters this week included people who took advantage of the Columbus Day holiday to hold signs and show solidarity, including Adams County social caseworker Sara Marsden, who held a sign that read: Stop Voter Suppression.
I try to make my views known. I vote. I make calls. This is what needs to be done. We need to be out here, Marsden said.
Tim Johnson, a community theater actor from Denver, said hes protesting what he said is the countrys apathy, fear and indifference and was one of several people standing on the sidewalk with signs.
Starts out we get laughed at, Johnson said as cars drove by honking their horn and people shouting words of encouragement from their open car windows. We stick around long enough, then theyll get angry. Then theyll start to take us seriously.
There doesnt seem to be any organization to it. But thats its power, he said.