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TCD Legal Defense/Offense News and Development

Call the Mayor ~ TCD Fundraiser ~ Motions

Last Updated: 01/22/2005

Call the Mayor!!!

Write or call the Mayor of Denver and the City Attorney. Urge Them to Stop the Prosecution of the remaining 230 defendants. 

Based on yesterday’s acquittals in the consolidated trail, our legal team will be actively seeking to get cases dismissed against the rest of us. But they will need us to help with political pressure. Please call, write, fax the Mayor and the City Attorney – urging them to drop the cases. Have your familiy and friends – if we each asked five people to call today – that would be over 1000 phone calls going to each of their offices.

Why we are asking for dismissal:

The acquittal of the first eight defenders to go to jury trial combined with earlier dismissal of 12 cases for lack of probable cause is a clear sign that the continued prosecution of these cases is a waste of city resources. We now call upon the City of Denver to dismiss the remaining charges against the other 220 defendants in these cases, and to prosecute elders and children when it was unable to convict organizers. We call upon the people of Denver to condemn the abuse of their tax dollars through the prosecution of these cases, and ask the people of Denver to demand that the mayor and the city attorney join in the movement to transform that day to a true holiday that promotes respect for all of Denver's diverse cultures.

Write, call, fax, or email:

Mayor John W. Hickenlooper 
1437 Bannock Street, Ste 350
Denver, CO 80202 
Phone 720-865-9000 
Fax: 720-865-8791

Mr. Cole Finegan, City Attorney 
1437 Bannock Street, Ste. 353 
Denver, CO 80202 
Phone: 720-865-8600 
Fax: 720-865-8796

Ms. Elbra Wedgeworth 
Chair, Denver City Council 
3280 Downing St., Unit C 
Denver, CO 80205 
Phone: (303) 298-7641 
Fax: (303) 298-9716

Denver residents should also call their own city council member and the at-large council member. If you need to find contact information for your city council member click here (new window).


TCD Fundraiser

***The Transform Columbus Day (TCD) fundraiser will be Saturday, Jan 22, at the Mercury Café, 2199 California St., from 9 PM to 1 AM

Entertainment will feature many of our own talented defenders of human rights

  • Savage Family (all the way from Kansas)
  • The TaliBand
  • Tony Ciocci
  • Ara Cruz – Café Cultura
  • Ellen Klaver
  • Tetrahedron
  • Adrienna Corrales
  • And others

Suggested donation at the door is $5, but no one will be turned away

There will be a raffle of a beautiful Pendleton blanket – tickets at $10 a piece. [And there will be other raffle items.]

Please bring cookies or other sweets, if you like. And make sure to let other people know that this is happening.

Contact: Ben Ferguson, 720-283-3974,

Carla Vialpando, 720-936-9773,

***Proceeds from the event will go towards legal expenses for the 239 defenders who are arrested last October 9.


Jan. 20th & 21st suppression hearings moved

Due to the length of the trial for the first eight defenders, Judge Burd has moved the suppression hearings scheduled in her courtroom 151P for this Thursday, Jan 20 and Friday, Jan 21 - to the actual date of trial for each defender.

Trial resumes Jan. 20th in new courtroom

The trial resumes January 20th at 8:30am, in courtroom 100K in the 1st floor of the Denver City and County Building (14th & Bannock). The trial should conclude tomorrow by noon. The testimony of Natsu Saito and Ward Churchill will be heard, as well as the closing statements. 

A pivotal issue seems to be whether or not individuals actually heard an order to disperse. The police video shows Captain Sandoval using a bullhorn to give that order. But it is clear from many people's testimony - that many people did not hear that order. 

Judge Burd is allowing a drum to be brought into the court on Jan. 20th, so the jury members can make their own judgment about whether or not those orders could have been heard. 

Day Two of the consolidated trial, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005

After calling two Denver police officers (Division Chief Cooper and Commander Sandoval) plus showing video footage from the protests, the City of Denver rested its case around 12:00pm, Jan. 19th. The defense presented five witnesses who delivered a very strong and compelling testimony, both about their personal reasons for being involved in protesting the celebration of genocide and also about the socially transformative work of the TCD Alliance. 

Glenn Morris was the first witness for the defenders in the afternoon. He was certified as a constitutional law expert by the court and testified as to the doctrine of discovery, its historical and contemporary significance to the indigenous people of the Americas, the relation of the doctrine of discovery to the celebration of Columbus. He also testified to the pattern of ethnic intimidation targeted towards indigenous people in Denver around Columbus Day and how the explicit celebration of colonialism is a violation of Colorado, US and international laws and the equal protection clause in the US Constitution.

Nita Gonzales testified about Escuela Tlatelolco, about Aztec culture and how it has been denied in the public schools, about the Crusade for Justice, about the indigenous and Chicano alliances, about the Transform Columbus Day Alliance and how the Four Directions March honors all people. How the holiday denies the cultural heritage of her children.

Rev. Reginald Holmes testified how Columbus represented genocide in the Americas and the enslavement of indigenous and African peoples. 

Glenn Spagnuolo testified about his Italian heritage (his parents are from Italy) and how he learned about the history of indigenous peoples in this continent. He talked about a sense of shame when he found out that some Italians in Denver were celebrating Columbus and how he worked to approach the pro-Columbus Italians and was rebuffed.

Troylynn YellowWood spoke about her involvement in the Four Directions March and the energy and power of having all nations of people, she represents five generations of her family. everyone knows about Columbus and the people who came with me but no one knows about the people he destroyed.


First consolidated trial begun Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005

A consolidated trial with Ward Churchill, Nita Gonzales, Rev. Holmes, Leroy Lemos, Glenn Morris, Natsu Saito, Glenn Spagnuolo, and Troylynn Yellowwood as the defenders started today, Tuesday, January 18, 2005, in Judge Burd's court (151P). The trial is being held in District Courtroom 13, in the 4th floor of the Denver City and County Building (14th & Bannock).  The trial is expected to last at least through Thursday. As of 3:20pm, Jan. 18, the jury of six plus two alternates had been selected and seated and both the prosecution and the defense had delivered their opening statements. A summary of the day will be posted shortly.

Suppression Hearings and Trials

Hearings on the motion to suppress evidence are being held and trial dates are being set. If you are a defender and you have not received notice of your hearing and trial date please contact the legal team right away. If you have received notice of your trial date, it is important that you confirm receipt in writing to the legal team.

Rulings on the motions

Judge Ortiz-White has ruled on the constitutional law motion and has found the loitering ordinance unconstitutional as it has been applied to the defenders. All loitering charges have been dismissed in her court. The failure to obey charges remain. She has not yet ruled on the other motions.

Judge Bowers ruled during the hearing on the hate speech motion and she denied it. She has not ruled on the other motions.

Judge Burd ruled that the City has failed to establish probable cause on the loitering charges and has dismissed all loitering charges in her court. The failure to obey charges remain. She did not rule on the constitutionality of the loitering ordinance per se. She denied motions to dismiss on the other motions.


It is imperative that defenders prepare for trial by getting their statements ready and reviewing the three motions and other resources that are listed on the left of this page. Many of the links will open in separate windows.


Arraignments for all defendants have been completed and all the deadlines for jury fees have passed. If you need to recheck what court you are in you can click here. See also media coverage of the arraignments (will open in a new window).



The next major step in the legal process for TCD defendants has been the motions hearing before the three judges that was held Thursday January 6, 9 am, City Council Chambers, 4th Floor, Denver City and County Building, 14th & Bannock. We will post the text of the rulings on those motions and any additional info here. You can also see coverage of the hearing by the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

A simplified explanation of each motion can be found below. The full motions are available by clicking on the title of each one. All motions are in Adobe Acrobat format (you will need the free Acrobat Reader) and will open in a new window when clicked. The motions posted here may make reference to a specific courtroom or list only some of the defendants, but identical motions have been filed in all courtrooms for all defendants.

All three judges heard the  motions at the same time, but will make independent decisions concerning which motions to allow. A motion is basically a request to the court, in this case before any trial begins, by an attorney that the court takes some specific action regarding the case. Our attorneys have presented three motions to the court, all of them asking that charges against the defendants are dismissed:

Hate Speech Motion: Not all speech is protected by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. The Columbus Day Parade is "celebrating" the genocide of indigenous peoples and therefore it constitutes hate speech and ethnic intimidation. Such speech and activities are not permissible under US, Colorado, and international law. The defenders had a duty to take peaceful action to oppose hate speech, the same way they would be justified to take action if the Paraders were marching through the streets, burning crosses in front of black citizens in an attempt to incite violence and harm to the community. US Supreme Court cases, as well as Colorado and international law make it clear that the defenders had not only the right, but the duty to Act.

International Law Motion: The celebration of Columbus Day in general and the "Convoy of Conquest" in particular constitute incitement to and/or advocacy of genocide. The U.S. government, as well as the City and County of Denver, are obligated by international laws, treaties and conventions to prevent genocide as well as any activity that promotes racial hatred or discrimination. The defenders were acting within the rights, indeed the requirements, of international law, to stop the incitement to and advocacy of genocide. The defenders did not disobey any lawful order by the police since the order itself was unlawful as it would have allowed the continuing violation of the most fundamental of human rights. The defenders were not loitering which is generally interpreted to mean remaining in an area without purpose. All charges therefore must be dismissed.

Constitutional Law Motion: Both the "loitering" and "failure to obey a lawful order" ordinances are unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, both in how they are written and in how they were applied in the arrests of the defenders. In this instance they have interfered with the constitutionally protected of the exercise of free speech by the defenders. The defenders were not loitering. As the courts have said "loitering is aimless. Social protest is purposeful." The arrests of the defenders under the loitering ordinance violated their free speech rights under the US and Colorado constitutions because the actions of the defenders did not meet the legal requirements of loitering and the city had no other justification for the arrests. Denver's "failure to obey" ordinance says that it is illegal to disobey a police officer if that disobedience interferes with the officer doing his job. Since the defenders, at the time of their arrest, were engaging in purposeful political speech in a traditional public forum, and not loitering, the order to leave the streets was a violation of the defenders free speech rights and therefore unlawful. All charges therefore must be dismissed.


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