Aspen Daily News owner Dave Danforth was arrested early Saturday morning for trespassing after having a dispute with a clerk at the Aspen Store on Main Street over whether he was being charged sales tax on his copy of the New York Times.
Danforth, who writes a column that appears on Sundays called the “Usual Suspect,” said the Aspen police were overzealous in his arrest. According to a police report filed by officer Jeff Fain, Danforth was intoxicated when police arrived on scene at 2 a.m. The store clerk, Carl Holman, had called police alleging that Danforth refused to leave the premises.
Danforth, 60, said he simply asked Holman if the store had fixed the register so that it would not charge sales tax on newspapers, which had been an issue previously. The police report states that Danforth claimed he had been taxed that night and it had been “going on for years.”
Danforth said he believes he was arrested only because he told Fain that he was going to make a call on his cell phone, and the officer felt challenged and used the intoxication card as a reason to arrest him.
“It was a political arrest,” Danforth said Sunday evening. “I was arrested because I reached for my cell phone ... They are making it up as they go along.”
Danforth said he was not intoxicated; he had two drinks over a 2 1/2 hour period.
“They are using that as an excuse,” he said, adding the Aspen Police Department is not living up to its community policing mantra. “I thought the cops were going to protect me when they arrived. I should have known better.”
Danforth said he plans to contest the charge. He is scheduled to appear in municipal court on Oct. 27.