Denver Police Officers order protesters to disperse during [auth] the Occupy Denver protest, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 in Denver. Occupy Denver protesters and law enforcement officers faced off on the steps of the state Capitol and Civic Center after protesters marched through downtown Denver for the fourth week in a row. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Hyoung Chan) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT
DENVER (AP) — Authorities moved into an encampment of Occupy Wall Street supporters Saturday evening and began arresting demonstrators just hours after a standoff near the steps of the Colorado Capitol turned into a skirmish that ended in police force, including pepper spray and reports of rubber bullets.
Officers in riot gear headed into a downtown park where protesters had established several tents, cracking down against demonstrators who ignored repeated orders to leave the area. About 10 to 20 tents had been set up after police knocked down two tents earlier in the day, according to the Denver Post (http://bit.ly/vUhkjB).
Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said 15 people were arrested.
The action followed a tense afternoon standoff between protesters and authorities near the Capitol that escalated after about 2,000 marchers made their way toward the building and a small surge of demonstrators tried to advance up the steps.
About eight officers scuffled with a group of protesters and police confirmed that they used pepper spray and pepper balls to break up the crowd. A protester told the paper at the time that police used rubber bullets.
Murray said protesters kicked police and knocked one officer off his motorcycle. He said five protesters were arrested, including two for assault and one for disobedience.
He said some demonstrators had received medical treatment on the scene, but no one had been taken to a hospital. There were no reports of injured officers.
Mike Korzen, 25, said he was among the protesters whom police dispersed with rubber bullets and pepper spray.
“I was standing there with my hands behind my back,” Korzen said, using a water bottle to wash pepper spray from his eyes this afternoon.