Some Boulder residents say they’re not pleased after hearing about the Boulder Police Department setting out to discourage community members from partaking in a Mall Crawl on Halloween.
“The Boulder Police Need Reform” is a new Facebook group formed as a response to the crackdown. Jonathan Sackheim, an online marketer in Boulder, created the Facebook group. He and Ryan Van Duzer, a video journalist, had set up another Facebook group earlier in the year attempting to resurrect the “Mall Crawl,” an annual Halloween festival at the Pearl Street Mall which was eventually shut down due to its rowdiness.
However, this earlier group was shut down after Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner visited one of the men’s houses on Sept. 30 and the Boulder Police Department sent out a news release discouraging community members from participating.
Van Duzer is known as a frequent contributor to the Travel Channel and the Boulder Daily Camera. He airs numerous videos of outlandish stunts.
Sackheim created the new Facebook group, he said, because the police should not intimidate or stifle free speech.
“[The police] may have a long day at the office on Saturday, but that’s life, no whining!” Sackheim said. “Iif the city government has concerns, the city manager should be the one reaching out to the citizenry, not the uniformed guys with guns.”
His Facebook group has close to 200 members.
The Mall Crawl, Sackheim says, could be an important event for Boulder because it could help stimulate the economy and create a better sense of community.
“It would be great to have a place where people can go outside on Halloween and have fun together comparing costumes and being social where they don’t have to pay a cover charge or get [carded],” Sackheim said. “Other communities have sanctioned events like this and I think Boulder should seize upon this opportunity and make a big Halloween event, another jewel that we can add to Boulder’s crown.”
Sarah Huntley, spokeswoman for the Boulder Police Department, said police do not have a problem with the Facebook group.
“The Boulder Police Department respects the rights of individuals to create Facebook groups on a variety of topics, including this one,” Huntley said. “I cannot speculate how [the group] will affect attitudes toward the police and I do not know to what effect, if any, this will have on the possibility of a Mall Crawl.”
Members of “Boulder Police Need Reform” aren’t the only ones who disagree with Boulder Police on the Mall Crawl Issue. The Boulder County American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the Boulder Police in response to its news release.
“The city’s actions…were unfounded and unconstitional…threatening rights protected by the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution,” the letter stated.
Caroline Kert, a non-practicing attorney and a member of the ACLU, is a member of the Facebook group.
Kert said that she is appalled by the actions of the Boulder Police, especially since Boulder prides itself on progressive and forward-thinking ideals.
“I believe that the actions that the Boulder Police resort to in order to preemptively shut down events that they do not support—including the Naked Pumpkin Run, the World Naked Bike Ride and now the reviving of the Mall Crawl—are unconstitutional,” Kert said. “[They] have a chilling effect on our free speech.”
Tyler Setterberg, a junior ecology and evolutionary biology major, said he joined the Facebook group because he thought the Boulder Police are going too far by assigning two SWAT teams to the Hill and Pearl Street.
“There’s a line between making sure things are safe and. . .[bringing] the army down on [anyone] not wearing a badge,” Setterberg said.
Matt Ullrich, a junior accounting major, is a fraternity member. He said he joined the group because Boulder police officers are inexperienced and do not understand the college atmosphere.
“Over the past year I’ve noticed a real change in the police mentality on campus,” Ullrich said. “I’m not saying that the police are doing things wrong, I just feel that they are not adapting [or] allowing for Boulder to be a college town.”
Ullrich said Boulder Police are making current CU students and Boulder residents pay for mistakes made in the past.
“The thing is that we are a new generation of students and [should] not be treated as delinquents,” Ullrich said. “It is important for the Boulder police to be more tolerant and optimistic when it comes to events such as Halloween.”
Sackheim said that his main problem with the police is the way they are handling the Mall Crawl.
“I don’t think all the police are bad by any means,” Sackheim said. “Lots of them do a great job. But they, and Mark Beckner in particular, need to know that we’ll push back when they don’t respect our rights and when they abuse the power that we as a community have given them.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Julie Ryan at Julie.email@example.com.