Down twinkles: Occupier now occupying jail cell for $10M arson

Another week of peaceful protesters bringing their succinct message of hope and change to the oppressive forces of capitalism and despotic tyranny has come and gone. Lots of attention has been focused on the activities taking place in New York and Oakland, but Friday brought us news from yet another drum circle gathering, this time in Fort Collins, Colorado. Let’s check in and see what sort of announcements are coming in over the human microphone network, shall we?

Police have arrested an Occupy Fort Collins protester in connection with a $10 million arson fire that damaged dozens of condominiums and businesses in Fort Collins.

Benjamin David Gilmore, 29, was arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of arson, burglary and criminal mischief.

On Oct. 24, a fire started at 3:30 a.m. in a four-story apartment complex under construction. The fire spread to the occupied Penny Flats condominium and retail building next door.

The fire at Penny Flats caused heavy fire damage to the fourth floor and roof, and heavy smoke and water damage to the first, second and third floors, according to Poudre Fire Authority spokesman Patrick Love.

Gilmore showed up in court and reportedly “broke down in tears” when telling the judge that he just wanted to go home with his wife. The judge, apparently not familiar with the trials and tribulations of the put upon 99%, promptly set bail at one quarter million dollars… cash only, please. The accused apparently hadn’t come up with that kind of spare change, and was promptly returned to jail.

The protesters were quick to point out that this one, scurrilous individual clearly shouldn’t be associated with the larger movement as a whole. Gilmore? Benjamin Gilmore? Hmmm… doesn’t ring a bell.

“He may have stopped by the protest, but he is in no way a direct relation to our movement,” said protester Julia Crisafi. “We are peaceful protesters.”

Demonstrating the spot on, well coordinated messaging for which the movement has become famous, some other occupiers quickly echoed that sentiment. Or… maybe not.

Gilmore Well Known At Occupy Fort Collins

Gilmore joined the Occupy Fort Collins movement in mid-October.

“He showed up on the 3rd or 4th day,” said Rich Crisler, who identified himself as the media coordinator for Occupy Fort Collins.

Crisler said he doesn’t believe Gilmore started the fire.

“He had no reason to do this,” Crisler said. “They’re [investigators] just looking for a scapegoat.”

Crisler said Gilmore owns a honey business. Crisler said Gilmore is very kind, soft-spoken and wants to help people.

Well, if the charges are proven true at trial, he’s certainly helping motivate some renters and business owners to find new locations. And as a bonus, he’s probably going to save or create any number of jobs as workers attempt to clean up, repair and replace the badly damaged real estate.

Way to keep up that positive public image, folks!