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'A lot of division' in Occupy


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Why get a permit to protest, asks Amber Hagen, when the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom of assembly?

"We already have a permit," Hagen says. "The First Amendment is our permit."

Last Saturday, Hagen was one of two protesters arrested in Acacia Park for setting up tents on the sidewalk facing Bijou Street. Colorado Springs police advised the sidewalk protesters, about 20 in all, to leave the public right-of-way, and to return to the permitted area nearby; instead, Hagen and another occupier, Jack Semple, duct-taped themselves to their tents. They were arrested and charged with interference with a public official by failing to obey a lawful order.

"We all knew something like that would end up happening, but it needed to happen," says Hagen, 22. "We need to fight for our rights in court. And we will win."

Hagen says she's a member of OCS' expansion committee, whose goal is to grow the protest beyond the four tents and one portable toilet at Acacia.

"We are branching out," she says. "Not separating, but branching out."

She adds that the permitted area is "our home base ... but it's also hindering our ability to expand the occupation. It seems like we can't see past the permit. It has created a lot of division."

According to Jason Warf, one of two protesters who secured the permit, neither Hagen nor Semple nor the expansion committee represents OCS. "If you're involved in something that goes against our group decision to work with the city," says Warf, "then you are doing it as a sovereign."

Warf asks that Occupiers agree to abide by the rules of OCS if they want to use the tents, he says, because he's responsible for actions in those tents. If people are drinking, or getting high or rowdy in the permitted area, he is liable.

"We want to have the right people representing the message of Occupy," he says, adding that in the past week or so, "we've had some of the dissidents come down and yell and scream at people."

Colorado Springs' chief communications officer, Cindy Aubrey, says the city has received negative calls about OCS. But Warf still hopes to renew the permit when it expires Nov. 20, which he says actions like Hagen's would jeopardize.

What she and her ilk don't get, he says, is that "a big sentiment in this movement is to have the government work for us again. And, in our eyes, it was a victory. The government was working for us."

But Hagen dismisses Warf's characterization that she and Semple are somehow not part of OCS.

"Those were Occupy Colorado Springs tents that were taken. I went to jail for this," Hagen says. "You are not going to tell me that I am not a part of this."


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