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In response to questions about Occupy Wall Street-related protests at the Denver capitol, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) said that protesters couldn't stay past 10 p.m., offering a potential fire as his excuse.
“Come at 6 o’clock in the morning, make all the free speech you want until 10 at night,” said Hickenlooper, who stepped away from a charity event to talk to the reporters. “But we can’t let you stay overnight. With all these tents … with these tents all next to each other. They could catch fire.
“What happens if suddenly one catches on fire, suddenly four or five tents burn. Who are you guys going to blame? You guys are going to be all over us like white on rice. In a second. The whole community will say how can you take that risk?”
The excuse seems quite far-fetched and a fire breaking out seems like a very small reason to limit the free speech and assembly rights of citizens. While camping in the area is a misdemeanor, Hickenlooper and others are suggesting that the crimes that some on Wall Street and in state capitols are getting away with are less of a concern than failure to get a permit for camping.
The story above also includes several insinuations by the reporter that the protesters included significant numbers of homeless people or that they were breaking the law in significant ways. Neither of these allegations is substantiated in the report.