Video: Denver chief marches with peaceful protesters
"Justice needs to be served to all lives. Right now, black people are targeted. Enough is enough.”
DENVER — Denver’s police chief walked arm-in-arm with anti-racism protesters Monday during a peaceful march that contrasted with several nights of clashes between his officers and demonstrators.
“We will stand with you and we will walk with you,” Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told a crowd at Civic Center Park before joining the march to a park near the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
One demonstrator asked about an Instagram post that showed three Denver Police dressed in body armor with the caption “Let’s start a riot.” Pazen, who called for an internal affairs investigation into the post earlier on Monday, said he was upset by the photo.
“I was hurt by the post. We need to bring the temperature down,” Pazen said. “This needs to go out to all police departments. Justice needs to be served to all lives. Right now, black people are targeted. Enough is enough.”
While Pazen marched with one group of demonstrators, a rally organized by college students was held with equal passion and peace on the steps of the Capitol.
Shayana Dabney, president of the Black Student Union at Colorado State University Pueblo, was among the speakers at on the Capitol steps.
“I’m ultimately hoping that people realize that for all the negativity, that it needs to be broadcast that people want positive change,” Dabney said in an interview. “And that’s what we’re out here working for.”
Shortly before the protest kicked off, President Donald Trump took to the Rose Garden and threatened to send U.S. Military troops to states that “(refuse) to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents.” Gov. Jared Polis had called in about 100 members from the state’s National Guard on Saturday to help patrol downtown Denver.
Denver resident and health care worker Gene Richardson attended the Capitol demonstration with his 4-year-old daughter who carried a sign that read “I matter too.” Richardson had heard Trump’s comments about “taking back” the streets across the country.
“I feel like they’re not his to take back. The whole country belongs to the people,” Richardson said.
In a statement from Mayor Michael Hancock spokesman Mike Strott, Denver’s mayor pushed back against the president’s call for additional force.
“Denver police, our mutual aid partners and a small contingent of Colorado National Guard have been working for the past four days and nights to support peaceful demonstrations in Denver,” the statement read. “They have worked long hours under difficult conditions, especially as day turns to night. But there is no need for the deployment of U.S. troops to maintain order in our city. The president’s threat to deploy federal troops is counterproductive and will only stoke the potential for worse violence and destruction. Denver is not Little Rock in 1957, and Trump is not President Eisenhower.”
As late as 10:30 p.m., protesters were still demonstrating by lying face-down on the ground, marching from place to place and peacefully lighting fireworks near the Capitol.