Occupy Denver's search for a leader goes to the dogs
One of the arrows slung at the nascent Occupy Wall Street movement is that it lacks leadership. Protesters in Denver, however, appear to have found a solution befitting the movement’s freewheeling feel.
On Tuesday, in response to what protesters described as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s insistence that they choose a leader, Occupy Denver’s General Assembly elected Shelby.
Shelby, said a statement on Occupy Denver’s website, “exhibits heart, warmth and an appreciation for the group over personal ambition that Occupy Denver members feel are sorely lacking in the leaders some of them have voted for.”
She also requires a pooper scooper.
Shelby is a 3-year-old border collie. According to Occupy Denver, her election was inspired by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney telling a heckler this summer that “Corporations are people, my friend.”
“Shelby is closer to a person than any corporation: She can bleed, she can breed and she can show emotion. Either Shelby is a person, or corporations aren’t people,” the Occupy Denver statement said, quoting one of the border collie’s supporters.
In keeping with her new prominence, Shelby’s dance card has quickly filled up. The protesters plan to introduce her to Hancock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this week, their statement said. She is also scheduled to lead an Occupy Denver march "against Corporate Personhood” this weekend.
Shelby is far from the first animal herded into public service. In 2005, The Times told the story of Opie, a 200-pound goat that served as honorary mayor of rural Anza, Calif., before local business leaders shooed him out of office.
In Texas, three generations of goats presided over Lajitas, charming tourists by guzzling Lone Star beers. Tragedy befell Clay Henry III, however, when an attacker castrated him. (A jury later deadlocked on convicting the suspect of animal cruelty charges.)
California has its own top dog, though he wasn’t chosen by voters. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Pembroke Welsh corgi, Sutter, has not only sat in on budget meetings, but has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts. A Sacramento Bee editorial advised him that, to survive in the Capitol, "don't be a yapper.”
Hear that, Shelby? Good dog.
-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas
Photo: Brian Riffle, left, and Susan Weston of Highlands Ranch, Colo., protest with the Occupy Denver movement. Credit: Hyoung Chang / The Denver Post/Associated Press