DENVER (AP) — A tense standoff between protesters and authorities near the steps of the Colorado Capitol erupted into a clash Saturday that resulted in a surge of demonstrators being met with police force that included reports of pepper spray and rubber bullets.
The situation downtown escalated when some supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement marching in a group of about 2,000 tried to advance up the Capitol steps.
About eight officers scuffled with a group of protesters, according to The Denver Post (http://goo.gl/fkQkk), and police confirmed to the newspaper that they used pepper spray and either rubber bullets or pepper balls to break up the crowd.
Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said protesters knocked an officer off his motorcycle and other officers were kicked by demonstrators.
Murray said seven protesters were arrested, including two for assault and one for disobedience. He said some demonstrators had received medical treatment on the scene, but no one had been taken to a hospital.
Mike Korzen, 25, said he was among the protesters whom police dispersed with rubber bullets and pepper spray.
"I was standing there with my hands behind my back," Korzen said, using a water bottle to wash pepper spray from his eyes.
Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of the Denver suburbs visited the protest site Saturday afternoon to try to calm protesters.
After the clash several protesters moved across the street to a park where a small encampment has been established. A city street between the park and the Capitol was blocked by police cars and a Denver bus.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com