Nov 21, 2011 11:00 PM by Zach Thaxton
Nicholas Galetka, 23, was detained and ticketed Monday afternoon for placing tables on the lawn of City Hall in violation of city code. It is the first citation issued in the wake of Mayor Steve Bach's decision not to issue a new permit allowing Occupy Colorado Springs protesters to erect tents and other structures at their protest site in Acacia Park. Galetka had moved the tables from Acacia Park to City Hall as part of a secondary protest of Bach's decision.
The previous 30-day revocable permit, issued October 21, expired at midnight Monday and soon after, code enforcement officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department arrived to dismantle the tent structures. Protesters had been given a two-hour warning to remove their tents or have them removed by code enforcement.
Bach denied a request by Occupy protesters to continue utilizing tents and other structures, including portable restrooms, along the public right-of-way adjacent to Acacia Park for another 11 months. Bach says the decision was based on concerns for public safety, not out of disagreement with the protesters' message or general behavior. "I've been by that site daily personally and the amount of trash building up, the obstruction of the sidewalk, just the general upkeep has deteriorated, so we felt we had to take action," Bach said. "They did receive a revocable permit which had specific requirements they have not met," he said.
The relationship between city government, police, and protesters in Colorado Springs has remained relatively cordial compared to some of the violent confrontations at other 'Occupy' protests across the nation. The city's issuance of a permit allowing the protesters to erect tents and utilize portable restrooms was considered conciliatory at the time, but Bach says the tents and other structures became a hinderance to traffic in the area, including students at nearby Palmer High School. "I thank the people involved in the protest for being civil to the degree that they have been," Bach said, "and certainly want to compliment our police department for really handling this superbly."
One 'Occupy' protester suggested non-issuance of a new permit may strain relations between protesters and the city and its police force. "All good things must come to an end and now we're in the same category as many other occupations," said protester Jason Coughlin. "If you have a demand, you're not going to get it by playing by the rules and being really nice all the time. I don't fear confrontation. I think confrontation is necessary right now and is a part of Occupy," he said.