(Photo by Kelsey Whipple)
For more than sixty hours now, Javier Hernandez and Veronica Gomez have occupied downtown Denver’s Obama For America headquarters to push the President to sign an executive order prohibiting the deportation of undocumented youth. They have not eaten during that time, and while they say they are healthy, they admit to feeling noticeably weaker. Two days ago, a nurse visited them to check their health, and Hernandez says she will return tonight.
In the meantime, tensions are rising inside the building, where the two activists protest and sleep behind locked doors while employees continue their campaign work. When Hernandez asked an employee to remove his blanket from the building’s back room yesterday, he says he faced “the biggest confrontation we’ve had yet. We needed our blankets, and he said, ‘Well, I’ll think about it.’ It’s been a long three days for everybody, but he almost slammed a door in my face. Everyone’s getting a little annoyed, but we’re not going to leave.”
Hernandez says the two parties try not to interact and remain separate during the day. Yesterday, he received notice that the campaign staff has no intention of asking police to remove the protesters from the building and will continue to respect their protest. (Westword has been unable to reach the campaign to confirm.) So far, police have responded only once; in that case, they watched over the protesters’ supporters outside the building.
Over the weekend, Gomez and Hernandez will continue making phone calls to political figures from their cell phones inside the office, and they are currently helping to organize similar protests in other states. “We’re not leaving anytime soon,” Hernandez insists.
The office has yet to re-open to the public. Occupy Denver’s direct action working group released a statement expressing solidarity with the protesters and the Campaign For the American Dream.