Posted: Mar 8, 2012 7:51 PM by Jacqui Heinrich
An anti-war tone taken up by Occupy Colorado Springs has forced some members to split off, claiming they were ousted because they support the troops.
Brittany Westmoreland, who is married to a soldier, was one of several members who received probation notices from organizers at OCS. The letter revoked their right to vote in group decisions or participate on the organization's Facebook page. She says the decision came from Eric Verlo, the organizer who has "hijacked" the cause and turned it into an anti-military campaign.
Verlo told News 5 that the Occupy movement has always been "anti-imperialism", and therefore anti-war. He says Occupy supports the troops but not war, and contends that some soldiers have taken offense to criticism of their mission, causing them to publicly protest Occupy Colorado Springs. According to Verlo, the move to place some members on probation was an attempt at arbitration, giving those who had spoken out against OCS a chance to work out their issues outside of the public eye.
We spoke with some of those letter recipients today; they say the decision to silence the members who had spoken out is a reflection of Verlo's control over what used to be "a people's movement". Brittany Westmoreland said that Verlo has encouraged violent activism tactics-- like burning Bibles outside of Fort Carson Gate 1-- and frequently references his blog during meetings, which contains bomb-making instructions and other anarchic material. His actions, she says, represent how far the movement has drifted under his command from its original cause.
Verlo counters her claim, saying that his blog represents his personal opinions and interests, and does not have any affiliation with Occupy Colorado Springs. Further, he says that the members who were placed on probation had not been involved with OCS for many months, and had only recently regained their interest to voice support for the military in light of the anti-war protests at OCS. According to Verlo, these members staged a coup in an attempt to vote him out of the organization of which they had not been a part of for some time.