On the night of Thursday, April 25th, as several dozen people were present inside the 27 Social Centre, heavily armed members of the Denver Police Department took up tactical positions outside of the Centre in preparations to raid the building.
People had gathered at 27 for a variety of activities, including a presentation on Tar Sands Resistance in Utah and several small group meetings being hosted at the space. Around 8pm, as the presentations and meetings were well underway, police were spotted congregating outside the rear of the building.
A worker-owner of P&L Printing and a named tenant on the building’s lease opened the main door of the space to observe what the officers were doing. As he opened the door and stuck his head out, a group of heavily armed officers who had taken up a tactical position behind a group of dumpsters behind the building ordered him to put his hands up and approach the officers. When he was within 10 feet of the officers, they ordered him to turn around, put his hands behind his back and walk backwards toward the officers. He was then searched, identified, and questioned.
DPD officers stated that they had received an emergency call that claimed that there were armed people inside the 27 Social Centre who were holding people hostage. After some explanation that this was indeed not the case, the officers lowered their shotgun and M4 rifle. The mood shifted, and the officers radioed their supervisor to give an all clear. They also radioed other officers to stand down. Apparently many more officers were positioned in areas around the Centre and had just been moments away from forcibly entering the space.
After 15 or so minutes of questioning, the supervising officer soon approached, and gave the worker-owner a clear choice: Either let the police into the building to prove to them there was no hostage situation, or watch as the police forcibly entered the building anyway. The choice, unfortunately, seemed clear, and the worker-owner brought 5 police officers into the building. They did not identify anyone else present, nor did they search any part of the building. After walking around for fewer than five minutes, the officers left, seemingly satisfied that there was indeed, no hostage situation.
It would be easy for us to claim this as a simple act of police generated repression. The unfortunate fact of the matter, however, is that this situation is more of an example of what can happen when snitch culture takes hold over communities. We know, for a fact, that there indeed was a call to the police. We do not know the exact details of the call, or even the specific person who made the call, but we do know that this happened. And it is this fact that makes the actions of Thursday night even more troubling.
The events set into motion by an obviously fictitious claim by whomever called the police could have ended much differently than they did. In the end, the actions of the person who called the police could have brought harm to many people. Instead, we were extremely fortunate that the situation was quickly de-escalated and that no one was injured, arrested, or detained, and that the officers left the building without much further incident. As many of us know, the officers of the Denver Police Department have never needed much of an excuse to violently attack, shoot, or murder people in our communities.
Thanks to all the many comrades from across the country (and the world!) who responded to various reports on social media about what was happening. The outpouring of support was amazing and intense, especially as most of it came even as the situation was unfolding.
Love and solidarity to all our friends and comrades!