Mayor Michael Hancock calls for community conversation after week of high-profile violence elsewhere

Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Chief of Police Robert White and Denver Manager of Safety Stephanie O’Malley just spoke, calling for community conversations around violence.

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks in response to a violent week in the U.S. (Erica Meltzer/Denverite)

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks in response to a violent week in the U.S. (Erica Meltzer/Denverite)

The day after the horrific shooting of police officers at a protest in Dallas, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Chief of Police Robert White and Denver Manager of Safety Stephanie O’Malley just spoke, calling for community conversations.

The mayor has asked for churches, faith leaders and community leaders to host those conversations starting this weekend. A list of gatherings are available on denvergov.org. Community and faith organizations that want to hold their own gatherings can register their events with the city.

“There is no greater covenant than the one between our safety officers and our community,” Hancock said. “But that covenant has been breached. All of us must commit to being repairers of the breach.”

Hancock quoted Robert F. Kennedy in a speech he gave a few months before he himself was killed.

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

Hancock spoke of an urgent need for reckoning.

“We cannot afford to wait a moment longer before we take meaningful action,” he said.

White said that he has communicated with his counterparts in Dallas and told his officers that he “has their backs.” The department is looking for ways to improve officer safety, though he didn’t want to discuss the details of tactics.

White said he has no specific information that there is any wider conspiracy to target officers, but he wants to make sure the department is doing everything it can.

White said the department would continue its practice of officers wearing regular uniforms and not riot gear at demonstrations and protests unless there was a specific threat like people throwing rocks, and that officers would respect the rights of the public to demonstrate and try to ensure the safety of everyone.

“We are going to handle demonstrations the way we have always handled demonstrations,” he said. “This department has done a phenomenal job handling demonstrations, anti-police, pro-police, any kind of demonstrations.”

Black Lives Matter has denounced the shootings, and Dallas officials said the attackers were not connected to the movement.

But White said what everyone understood last night as the terrible news unfolded.

“It makes it more challenging,” he said of dialogue between community members and police. “It speaks to the two needing to become one, but it makes it harder to do that. … Now, officers say, ‘We’re the target.’ But we are going to get beyond that.”

Watch their initial remarks here.

Here are the locations for community conversation this weekend:
Saturday
  • CLLARO
    4755 Paris Street, Suite 300
    Denver , CO 80223
    3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Escuela Tlatelolco Centro De Elementary School
    2949 Federal Blvd.
    Denver, CO 80211
    12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Southwest Improvement Council
    1000 S Lowell Blvd
    Denver, CO 80219
    12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • St Charles Recreation Center
    3777 Lafayette St.
    Denver, CO 80205
    12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • United Church of Montbello
    4879 Crown Blvd.
    Denver, CO 80239
    12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Sunday
  • CLLARO
    4755 Paris Street, Suite 300
    Denver , CO 80223
    12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Elevate Denver
    2205 W 30th Ave.
    Denver, CO
    9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
  • The House Worship Center
    2150 South Cherry Street
    Denver, CO 80222
    1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Mi Casa Resource Center
    360 Acoma Street
    Denver, CO
    Noon – 1:00 p.m.
  • New Hope Baptist Church
    3701 Colorado Blvd.
    Denver, CO 80205
    Time TBD
Monday
  • Potter’s House
    9495 E. Florida Ave.
    Denver, CO 80247
    12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m
    6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.