Action through inaction

Occupy Denver struggles to stoke the fire of Occupy Wall Street

Theo Romeo

They have water, a medic station, and a general
assembly. Welcome to Denver’s version of Occupy Wall Street.

The general assembly seems to be the democratic
governing body, a circle of people having a discussion and making decisions as
a group.

And one of the first actions of the assembly was
to set up a kitchen.

“We all pitched in and said, ‘Yes, let’s just
feed people,’” says Corey Donahue, who seems to be in charge of the food tent.

“Everyone’s here for different reasons, so
everyone here can bring a new view about how we can change the system we’re
in,” says Donahue. Since Monday, the group has set up a temporary community
across the street from the Capitol Building in Denver. As of Tuesday afternoon,
there were a few piles of signs, a rather impressive stockpile of water, and at
least 30 people milling around.

“No one told us to come here,” says Donahue. “We
saw what was happening on Wall Street and said, ‘That sounds like a good

But unlike New York’s movement, which has been
generating press across the country, Colorado has its own style of
demonstration, and its own demands. Sort of.

Donahue mentioned the federal reserve,
transaction fees the government pays the banking infrastructure, which he said
was $16 trillion in one year, according to a July 2011 audit by Sen. Bernie
Sanders (Vermont).

But Donahue also said that he was there
primarily because he’s a “marijuana advocate.” The conversation then turned to
a pro-legalization argument, then a commentary about the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and finally about inequities for minorities — a hefty list of
gripes for one protest.

When asked if he could distill the movement into
one message he replied, “Why one message?”

Justin, who asked to be called “Crunchy,” seems
less idealistic.

“I don’t think this kind of thing ever works,”
he says. “I’m just here to feed people.”

A few feet away on the curb, Cait Murphy has
a sign on her lap and waves to passing traffic on Broadway.

Murphy, lounging in a lawn chair, holding her
bright pink sign, matches Crunchy’s rather apathetic approach.

“I’m on vacation, actually — visiting my
boyfriend,” says Murphy.

Murphy is from New York. She’s a student, and
intends to join the Occupy Wall Street movement when she returns.

“I’m all for organizing,” says passerby Chad
Duffy, “but it feels like a bunch of half-baked ideas to me.”

Duffy sat in on one of the group’s general
assemblies on Monday.

“We’re a little more passive in Colorado. Most
of us are stoned out here, so I doubt it will get violent,” jokes Duffy. “But
it’s admirable, I guess. They are seeking action through inaction — I’m just
not sure it’s doing anything.”