Denver Police Lt. Matt Murray released 31 pages of car-to-car text messages about the Occupy Denver movement he says did not meet "the standard of professionalism expected by the Denver Police Department."
Murray said the messages were released by DPD after they were brought up during a court hearing earlier in the day, and information requests were filed.
READ THE FULL LIST OF TEXTS
The text messages span a time period between Oct. 1, when the protests began, and Nov. 20.
The Occupy Denver movement first met on Sept. 23 and is now in its third month. During that time, Murray said officers have been required to work overtime and, for the most part, have silently endured the taunts of protestors.
"It is stressful. It is frustrating. The officers have been called in. They've had to leave their families. They've had to cancel days off. Come in on vacations. So there is a level of frustration. But we're not whining. We take responsibility. It is part of the job. Even if it's not appropriate, it's understandable," Murray said.
Most of the messages are about the protestors, their locations and violation reports officers wrote. Some of the officers seemed to use the text system to voice their opinions about the protests.
In one message chain on Oct. 10, one officer asks another if they had seen the YouTube videos of the protests going on in New York City.
"They're supporting the same BS protests going on on Wall Street. The typical 'Tax the Rich' 'Eff the Cops' anarchist crap!" replied one officer.
"Yeah. Denver protesters are too pathetic for us to have anything like that, though," another officer said.
Some of the texts discuss ways the officers might clear the park.
"I bet if you guys dropped a box of skunks in the middle of the... they would probably scatter real quick," one text on Oct. 14 said.
Another set of messages refers to the protesters as "stupid" and "retards." Some appear to poke fun at what the protestors stand for.
"I take it you were protesting today instead of coming in early you tree-hugger animal-activist," one officer said to another on Oct. 31.
One conversation talks about someone has heard from the administration that some of the protesters have fake AR-15 assault rifles.
"...The protesters are runnin round with 'fake' ARs. If they point on at me, I will shoot. How do we know they really 'fake?' Be careful," one officer texted on Oct. 22.
"Bill says he'll volunteer for the District to go wrassle protestors downtown! The rest of us can stand down. Lol," another officer replied.
Another seems to voice concern over protestors carrying weapons.
"These guys got one of the protestors who has a dozen homemade weapons on him on an RTD bus. Machetes, shivs, nunchucks, throwing stars..." one officer wrote.
"All kinds of stuff to shank cops if they grabbed him," another officer replied.
Some of the officers voice what seems to be their frustration with the protestors.
"In the last two days no less than 100 people, at protest and other places have screamed obscenities and directed demeaning remarks at me, and I am not allowed to respond in any way. What a great system," the officer said on Oct. 30.
"It is nuts down here. I have costume freaks yelling at protestors who are yelling at police who are yelling at transients," another text on the same day said.
"They claim to be peacefully protesting. I say we just baton the people who start to incite everyone. The rest who are peaceful, let them stay," an officer texted on Nov. 4.
One officer texts that they had set up a Twitter account to harass the protestors.
"A few of us set up a Twitter account to harass the 'Occupy Denver' people... a video was posted with the mc offcr [sic] a few weeks ago who's [sic] bike was pushed... totally incriminating the guy and all the protestors were demanding on the video being taken down. Was pretty funny. I love watching idiots make a fool of themselves... doesn't get any better," the officer wrote on Nov. 12.
The text refers to an incident on Oct. 29 where Murray says an officer was pushed off his motorcycle and two others were kicked. Twenty protestors in total were arrested on that day, two for allegedly assaulting police officers.
Denver Police are now investigating the claim of a fake Twitter account.
"We certainly don't want officers creating fake Twitter accounts to bother other people. That's not professional," Murray said.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called the messages inappropriate.
"Obviously those are not the values and edicts of this city or this administration. It's unfortunate and I'm really disappointed that some of our officers have decided to communicate in this way. But I also will tell you that I understand the police department has already moved to address this situation and have sent a very clear message to our officers that this was a very inappropriate way in which to communicate," Hancock said.
Murray released the following statement on Wednesday with the text messages:
"It is important to note that while not a defense for inappropriate behavior, many Denver Police Officers have now endured months of having to leave their families to come into work early, giving up their days off, and silently tolerating hours of taunting and abusive actions by some protestors.
"It is common for employees in any line of work to vent their frustrations to co-workers. But more important, is the fact that the actions of the Denver Police Department and its Officers have reflected the City's commitment to protect free speech. These are the words of a very few officers over a 13 week period.
"Notwithstanding, these text messages, the Denver Police Department continues to respect and will defend the Constitutional right to peacefully protest."
No official response has been issued by the Occupy Denver protestors on this issue, but Occupy protestor Jay Frost, who claims to have been camped out in Civic Center Park since October, says he's not surprised or bothered by the text messages.
"I didn't hear about the box of skunks but that kind of makes me chuckle I'm not gonna lie. It's just words. Words don't mean much. The action behind them does," Frost said.
Frost says some officers wrongly assume all the protestors are homeless or drug addicts.
"Yeah, there is that demographic out here but all demographics are represented out here unless you make $5 billion a year," Frost said.
Also on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported Occupy Denver protesters lost their attempt to stop what they say is alleged harassment by police who are selectively enforcing city ordinances.
The request by protesters stemmed from a lawsuit filed by seven protesters and supporters claiming they were being improperly ticketed by police who don't agree with their anti-Wall Street message and want to silence them.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn said the protesters didn't present compelling evidence that Denver police had stepped up enforcement as a way to retaliate. Protester attorney David Lane says the lawsuit was designed to stop the alleged harassment and Blackburn's ruling likely ends the matter.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)