Last week, a highly militarized police force arrived at the home of 63-year-old Sahara Donahue to evict her from her residence of 24 years.
Donahue was petitioning US Bank for an additional 60 days to remain in her home, so she could have some time to find a new place to live, secure her belongings and leave her home with dignity. She came to the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition and an Occupy Denver General Assembly to ask for our help.
She knew no one in Occupy Denver prior to reaching out. We immediately started mobilizing to try to get her the assistance she needed and a group went to her house for the first rumored eviction on October 25. When that eviction didn’t happen, we planned an in-town action at US Bank, hoping to compel a bank official to ease Sahara's situation. Then we sent carpools up to her house in time for the rescheduled eviction, on October 30.
Occupiers laid barricades from fallen trees to prevent moving trucks and workers from entering Sahara's property and were able to stave off the eviction for a few hours. At 2:45 p.m., 10 or more truckloads of police in full combat gear armed with live-ammo AR-15s and grenade launchers arrived on the scene and forced occupiers to the ground at gunpoint.
Police then made their way to the house, broke down the front door, threw Donohue to the ground in her own kitchen and pointed their guns at the heads of a mother and son who were in the house with Sahara, among others. Police continued to break items in the house as they searched it. They unplugged the modem - the home's only form of communication as there was no cell phone coverage in the area - in order to stop the livestream.
The Occupy Denver legal team spent the next harrowing hour in a communication blackout wondering if they would be receiving calls from the hospital or the jail. Meanwhile, one brave foreclosure defense activist jumped into the bucket of the bulldozer that was going to tear through the barricades, forcing the operator to stop for several minutes. Three arrests were made, two activists were assaulted and all have been released.
Many people on the ground outside Donahue's home had experienced riot cop violence against Occupy demonstrators before, but all agreed that this was the most surreal and violent state repression they have witnessed. There has been overwhelming community support as other activists and concerned people watched the militarized drama unfold online. The big question everyone is asking: “Seriously, why are they in military gear?”