A group of activists shouted profanities at Denver police officers Wednesday morning as they removed a tent that had been set up in front of a Denver courthouse.
The clash between the activists and the police came less than 24 hours after a federal judge issued an injunction that trumped a Denver judge's order barring public demonstrations at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse.
Within hours of the clash, civil rights attorney David Lane filed a motion in federal court asking the judge to find Denver Police Chief Robert White in contempt of court for violating the injunction.
Lane's motion accused Denver police of confiscating 1,000 jury-nullification pamphlets that the federal judge had approved in his injunction. Police also took a shade tent, a table, four chairs, buckets, a cooler, signs and other items, the motion said.
U.S. District Judge William Martinez granted the injunction Tuesday. Martinez found that the court order that was intended to prevent potential violence after a jury decides whether to sentence Dexter Lewis to death went too far with its restrictions.
The injunction allowed activists to demonstrate and hand out two jury-nullification pamphlets. But it prohibited people from trampling the landscaping, blocking doors, erecting structures or using loudspeakers.
Shortly after 10 a.m., a group of officers approached the activists who had gathered in front of the courthouse and set up a shade tent, table and several chairs. An officer asked the group if they had a permit for the "structure." After several people shouted that they didn't need one, the officers instructed the activists to take it down.
The officers began to lower the tent and warned activists that if they interfered, they would be arrested. Some protesters screamed at the officers, but none were arrested. Officers carried the tent, chairs and other items back to police headquarters.
In the motion filed Wednesday afternoon, Lane called Denver police "jack-booted thugs," who were retaliating against the pamphleteers.
The order also quoted Wendy Shea, an attorney for White, as saying the city had legal authority to remove items restricting movement on sidewalks.
The lawsuit was filed by Lane after two other men were charged with jury tampering. They had set up a booth and distributed jury-nullification pamphlets to potential jurors. The lawsuit named the city, White and Denver District Court Chief Judge Michael Martinez.