Police Arrest Five at Metro Denver’s Third Idle No More Round Dance

A Round Dance in support of the First Nations’ Idle No More movement drew security guards’ attention and police involvement at a mall in Broomfield, a community north of Denver, where four adults and a teenager were arrested for trespassing on January 2.

About 100 people, mostly Native Americans, attended the Round Dance at Flatiron Crossing Mall, said Broomfield Police Sergeant Rick Kempsell, public information officer. The event was the third support Round Dance in the Denver area during the past week.

“I think this is the first arrest [among those attending Idle No More support events] since Clyde Bellecourt’s in Minneapolis,” said Glenn Morris, a longtime activist who is on the faculty of the University of Colorado-Denver.

Attendees crowded around the mall’s grand central staircase and blocking shoppers as they tried to maneuver through the mass of people, Kempsell said. Five of the Round Dance attendees refused to move when ordered to do so by security and then didn’t leave when police told them to either, which is what led to their arrest, Kempsell said, noting that the mall is private property.

Those arrested were ticketed for trespass, a municipal ordinance violation considered a petty offense and carrying a potential penalty of up to $1,000 and a year in jail, the maximum sentence that, Kempsell agreed, is an unlikely outcome in this case.

Cheyenne Birdshead, 17, Cheyenne/Arapaho, the juvenile who was detained at a police substation at the mall and later released to a family friend, had a different take on the Round Dance event and arrests. She said police were already present when she and her friends got to the mall, and that officers and security guards were telling them to leave, so participants grouped together in a central area.

When they did try to leave, the police seemed to be trying to “arrest anyone—they almost arrested my grandmother,” she said. Police cruised parking lots and seemed to be looking for potential arrests, Cheyenne added.

The names of the four adults who were handcuffed and taken to the Broomfield detention center were not immediately available, Kempsell said, but they were two men and two women who might be ticketed and released on their own recognizance or on minimal bond if they were area residents and did not pose a flight risk.

Only one of the arrestees, a woman, was Native, according to others at the event. In addition to her and the non-Native woman, the two men detained were from Occupy Denver, they said, adding they were told the booking process could take up to three hours.