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Activist alleges representative is stifling free speech over foreclosure debate

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Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition member Darren O’Connor and Representative Angela Williams for District 7 have been at odds over foreclosures in Denver for the past couple months. Their dispute climaxed when O’Connor received a temporary restraining order when he arrived at the District 7 Democrats meeting on October 26, 2013. State Representative Williams claims O'Connor has continually harassed her because she has declined to meet with him over HB13-1249 (The Colorado Mortgage Accountability And Housing Stabilization Act) that was voted down 10-1 with her help. HB13-1249 was a house bill proposed that sought to decrease foreclosures by increasing the documentation that needed to be filed for a holder or bank to start the foreclosure process. Williams alleges that O’Connor has harassed her over social media and by showing up to meetings and public events where he has confronted her to speak about why she voted against HB13-1249. Williams also explained that she felt unsafe because O’Connor had distributed negative literature about her foreclosure stance near her home and that he put his business card on her door, which she felt was a threat.

O’Connor argues that Williams used to be against foreclosures and after she spoke to the Colorado Bankers Association, she switched her position on HB13-1249. O'Connor further states that he wrote to both Williams and Jennifer Waller, VP of the Colorado Bankers Association, to request that people from both sides of the issue have a meeting to discuss the truth of the bill. He says that Waller wrote back that she preferred to speak to legislators privately, and Williams failed to respond at all. In an article by the Nation Report about how Williams shut down a town hall meeting after foreclosure issues were raised, O’Connor stated, “I’ve been calling and writing for the last two months and this [public forum] is the first opportunity I’ve had to see her. But when I hear her speak, it always comes off in defense of bankers and status quo and the status quo is her district is being foreclosed on at the most rapid rate in this city.” O’Connor and other foreclosure activists feel that it is a tactic to chill free speech for an elected official to report stalking when an activist is attending public meetings to petition their grievances.

On Nov. 13, four hours of testimony was heard regarding the restraining order and stalking claim filed by Williams. Williams’ witness, District 2 Commander Calo, explained that Mr. O’Connor was a gentleman and spoke respectfully and well when he approached her at the town hall but did mention he should be kept at arms distance. Magistrate Cary will give her ruling on the case on Monday Nov. 25, 2013.

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