Janet Matzen, one of the early members of Occupy Denver

Janet Matzen, one of the early members of Occupy Denver, near the Corner Bakery on the 16th Street Mall on March 24. (John C. Ensslin / Colorado Politics)

 

While the debate over Denver's Initiative 300 continues, another group has taken a separate tack aimed at overturning Denver’s urban camping ban.

Members of the activist group Occupy Denver have been staging weekly demonstrations with soup kitchens along the 16th Street Mall, urging people to boycott businesses that refused to sign a petition calling for the camping ban to be overturned.

They have protested outside The Tattered Cover bookstore, Rock Bottom Brewery and The Palm restaurant in the past.

The protests continued outside of one business – The Corner Bakery – for 10 months until the franchise owner Jamey Cutter released a March 15 letter to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock saying neither Cutter nor the business support the camping ban.

The letter came the week after a confrontation between Cutter and one member of the Occupy Denver group.

Cutter spilled hot water on the flagstones in front of the store, saying he was trying to erase some chalk messages left by the protesters.

One Occupy Denver member grew outraged over what he described as “scalding hot water” tossed near his feet and launched into an expletive-filled tirade that lasted several minutes.

Cutter released his letter a week later. “It got to the point where they were suffocating our business,” he said.

The bakery and eatery had been donating 20 percent of its proceeds on Sundays to a homeless organization. Cutter said the bakery has hired homeless people and sends unused food to homeless organizations.

“But they made it clear that they were not going to be backing down. So, we ended up putting our own letter together,” he added.

Occupy members said the boycott will now move on to other businesses.

“That’s all we wanted for him to do was to come out against the urban camping ban. It’s inhumane. People are dying,” said Janet Matzen, one of the early members of Occupy Denver.

Supporters of Initiative 300 said they are a separate entity from Occupy Denver.

"They don't officially speak for our campaign, but they are in support of the initiative,” said Raffi Mercuri, campaign manager for Initiative 300.

"It's good to see passionate people out there even if people don't approve of their tactics,” he said.

"The actions of Occupy Denver were not officially or unofficially sanctioned by our campaign,” Mercuri added. “This is totally independent of us."

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