(Photos by Ambrose Cruz)
Yesterday a highly militarized police force arrived at the home
of 63 year old Sahara Donahue to evict her from her residence of 24
years. She was petitioning US Bank for an additional 60 days to remain
in her home, so she could have some time to find a new place to live,
secure her belongings and leave her home with dignity. She came to the
Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition and Occupy Denver General
Assembly to ask for our help. She knew no one in Occupy Denver prior to
reaching out. We immediately started mobilizing to try to get her the
assistance she needed and a group went up to her house for the first
rumored eviction on Thursday 10/25. When that eviction didn’t happen,
we planned an in-town action at US Bank on Monday for Sahara to try to
find someone to speak with about her situation, with carpools up to her
house later that day as the eviction was said to be scheduled for
Tuesday 10/30. Occupiers laid barricades from fallen trees to prevent
moving trucks and workers from entering the property and were able to
stave off the eviction for a few hours. At 2:45pm ten or more
truckloads of police in full combat gear armed with live-ammo AR-15’s,
and grenade launchers arrived on the scene & forced occupiers to
the ground at gun point. Police then made their way to the house, broke
down the front door, threw Sahara to the ground in her own kitchen and
pointed their guns at the heads of a mother and son who were in the
house with Sahara along with others. They continued to break items in
the house as they searched it. They unplugged the modem, which was the
only mode of communication as there was no cell phone coverage in the
area, in order to stop the livestream and all communications. After the
livestream cut out, the occupy denver legal team spent a harrowing hour
in communication blackout wondering if they would be receiving calls
from the hospital instead of the jail this time. This psychological
violence did not stop one brave activist from jumping into the bucket of
the bulldozer that was going to tear through the barricades and forced
the operator to stop for several minutes. Three arrests were made, two
activists were assaulted and all have been released. Many of the
people on the ground have survived multiple occupations and riot cop
lines but all agree that this was the most surreal and violent state
repression they have experienced protesting. There has been
overwhelming community support as other activists and concerned people
watched the unnecessary militarized drama unfold online. Everyone is
asking “Seriously, why are they in military gear?” All captions for the
following photographs are actual comments made on the Occupy Denver
Sheriffs, SWAT, and Assault Rifles – A Foreclosure Story by Michael Steadman
Idaho Springs, Colorado may seem like a quiet, peaceful, and even
quaint little town off I-70 in the mountains west of Denver. However, in
the early afternoon of October 30, 2012, the Clear Creek County
Sheriff’s office proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that looks can be
extremely deceiving. Make no mistake; this is not a kind hearted
Mayberry RFD type of law enforcement. This was a tactical, military
style assault against unarmed, peaceful protesters.
But first, let’s go back a bit in order to give you a little better
understanding of the events leading up to, as well as during their
demonstration of excessive use of force.
Sahara Donahue has lived in her home for over 20 years, has been a
volunteer in her community, and was a decent law abiding citizen. She
suffered injuries from a near-fatal accident, including a head injury
that was not properly diagnosed until over a year after the accident.
She could no longer perform the duties of her job, and therefore was
forced to rely on the generosity of friends to help pay her mortgage for
several years. She made every attempt to communicate and work with the
banks, and even retained the services of an attorney, in the hopes of
finding some resolution to keep her home. However, the banks (as well as
a corrupt realtor) apparently had different plans.
These are protestors they are standing over with machine guns???? -L.R.
After she was given a run-around by US Bank, several of us made our
way up the canyon to stand with her and support her in case the eviction
went through the following day. Later in the day we were informed that
the only compromise offered to Sahara involved her immediate eviction –
BUT – they would be magnanimous enough to store her things for 30 days.
Those of us at the house began planning our course of action for the
remainder of the night as well as for Eviction Day.
We barricaded the driveway with fallen trees in order to limit access to
the house, and held several impromptu meetings in order to discuss our
tactics. Sahara’s wishes were for us to be respectful when the Sheriff
arrived, since she has a history with this community. We agreed that we
would all respect her wishes and approach the situation in a peaceful
manner. We were led to believe that the realtor would be arriving with a
crew of workers to remove items from the house, and the Sheriff would
be there to “keep the peace.” Sahara had also asked one of the group’s
members to be a spokesman. He would speak directly with those who
arrived and deliver legal letters to the Sheriff. This way things would
proceed smoothly and help eliminate any unnecessary escalation.
As night closed in we shared stories, discussed ideas, and enjoyed each
other’s company in a very peaceful positive environment. Eventually
people began to settle down for the night. Most were sleeping in the
house on couches or on the floor, while I and another went out to sleep
in our tents beside the barricade in case of any unexpected late night
The following morning we all began to stir as coffee was brewing. There
seemed to be an overall sense of optimism among the group. We received
word of some more people coming up to join us, and we had another
meeting to determine tactics regarding the expected arrivals for the
eviction. Several of us collected more timber to fortify the barricades,
others were making food, and everyone was ready for whatever was coming
(or so we thought).
The first arrival of the day was a truck hauling a dumpster that was
apparently to be left there for the workers to put her things in. Seeing
the barricades, he got out and spoke with us. He was very friendly and
supportive towards us, and then called his supervisor who after several
minutes instructed him to bring the dumpster back. We had our first
victory of the day and the excitement filled the air.
A while later a white van filled with workers from a “day labor” company
pulled up and stopped. These were the men who were supposed to remove
her belongings from the house. They needed to wait for the Sheriff to
arrive, and since there is no cell phone service in the area, they just
relaxed and spoke with us for a while. We even tried to recruit a few of
them to stand with us, but to no avail. Finally they decided to leave
in order to go back down the mountain to find a place with better
reception to make calls. We all began a second celebration as we filled
the air with singing, “Na na na na, hey hey hey, GOOD-BYE!”
Things were really starting to look up for us. We felt we had made some
incredible progress. Then we heard a vehicle coming. Around the corner I
saw a Sheriff’s vehicle through the trees as it was approaching. Then I
saw behind it another, and another, and another. About 10 vehicles
filled with men in what appeared to be full battle gear (and assault
weapons already in hand) began to fill the road in front of the house.
In all our planning and meetings, we never expected this kind of
response. After all, we were led to believe that the Sheriff was only
going to be there to “keep the peace.” And don’t forget to keep in mind
that we were unarmed, peaceful demonstrators.
The spokesman of our group got on the megaphone and began trying to get
everyone to converge up at the house, but it was already too late. The
Tactical Response Team had already reacted. As we were rushing up the
driveway, we were cut-off by several men gripping their assault rifles
as they began shouting at us to get on the ground on our knees. To my
left, the spokesman was coming up, shouting on the megaphone, attempting
to discern who was in charge since he had the letters to deliver. The
officers didn’t care, in fact as the spokesman was telling them he had
letters, one of the officers shouted back, “No, you don’t have letters!”
and they continued ordering us to get on our knees. We remained
standing and continued trying to open up some kind of conversation.
At this point, I was standing there with the spokesman, and a few
others. Mind you, I am about 6’2” tall and about 200 lbs. The others
standing with me were as big, if not bigger, with the exception of an
older gentleman to my left. Since none of us would get on our knees,
these fully armed, militarized officers decided to arrest the smallest
and oldest person there. With all their firepower and intimidation
techniques, they targeted the least imposing person there. They put him
face down in the dirt and gravel, and cuffed his hands behind him with
their zip-tie handcuffs.
Finally, the man in charge came forward, but when he was presented with
the letters, he informed us that he would take them but it didn’t
matter. He then folded them up without even really looking at them. It
was obvious that those with the money and the guns couldn’t have cared
less about the injustice taking place, and they were ready and willing
to do whatever was necessary to shut us down.
I was offered a ride by one of the activists, since the Sheriff was so
gracious to let some of us go without further incident. As we made our
way down the private drive, we saw at the bottom of the hill; the
bulldozer that was just waiting to tear through our barricades, and the
van of day labor workers ready to fulfill their job descriptions. After a
couple turns down Hwy 103 another realization occurred to me. There on
the shoulder of the road was an ambulance waiting on stand-by. Maybe I
am mistaken, but it would appear that the Sheriff’s Department was
prepared to do, and had every intention of doing, whatever was necessary
to obey their bank’s wishes.
We pulled into a local convenience store after making it into town. As
we sat collecting our thoughts, and trying to decompress after the
events that had transpired, I was struck by something else. I watched
the people of the town as they nonchalantly passed by and it occurred to
me that this was a sort of metaphor about our entire society today.
Just up the hill, innocent people were having guns shoved in their
faces, people were being evicted from their homes, and much more. At the
same time, the rest of the town went about its daily routine,
completely oblivious as to what was going on just around the corner. –
“Military tactics, Military equipment, Military mindset. Looks like this nation is occupied by the bankers military.” -K.Y.
Later around 6:45pm Occupiers and other residents returned with
Sahara to help her sift through her things which were now thrown in
piles on the outskirts of the property. Many of her possessions were
destroyed by the movers. One Occupier who was there for the armed raid,
and stayed to help said, “Seeing these things that represented a large
cross-section of this woman’s life strewn across the front yard was one
of the worst things I have ever had to witness in my life. Why is the
general population letting the big banks do this to us?” As the
temperature started to drop as night set in, the only thing people could
do was to cover her piles of belongings with tarps, as there was
nowhere for her to take her things. Sahara was only able to take her
two dogs, Rodeo and French Fry, and what ever she could fit in her small
vehicle. She is currently staying in a motel, and is uncertain as to
where she will be able to live next. Occupiers will continue to assist
her until her living situation has stabilized.
The Black Sheep tries to warn its friends with the truth it has seen, unfortunately herd mentality kicks in for the Sheeple, and they run in fear from the black sheep and keep to the safety of their flock.
Having tried to no avail to awaken his peers, the Black Sheep have no other choice but to unite with each other and escape the impending doom.
What color Sheep are you?