About 1,000 people gather near Colorado State Capitol in latest night of protests
Updated: June 5, 6:55 a.m.
More than 1,000 people gathered near the Colorado State Capitol Thursday in the latest night of protests amid the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who was killed in May.
A citywide curfew was in effect in Denver beginning at 9 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., protesters were peaceful as they stood near the Capitol.
At 9 p.m., most people left the Capitol and Civic Center Park, but a couple hundred people remained on the west side of the State Capitol to chant. There were no reports of violence between protesters and police immediately after the 9 p.m. curfew. But near the Capitol around 10 p.m., police said someone was shot at Broadway and Colfax. Police said the shooting was not connected to the protests and that two people later went to a nearby hospital — one person was treated for a gunshot wound and one for stab wounds. Denver police said they would update later on the situation.
Organizers earlier Thursday said they expected about 1,000 people to join in the marches. It appeared that more than that did. Organizers said earlier on Thursday that they were hopeful that the protests would remain peaceful.
Katie Rinas was at the protests, she said that a few nights ago she had a rifle pointed at her by police as she drove home from a friends house. She came Thursday to speak out against police brutality.
“The fact that I knew that they weren’t going to shoot because of the color of my skin is exactly why I’m here,” Rinas said.
Chazin Telling is Burmese. She said she’s been protesting during the day but not at night. She was out by the Capitol on Thursday.
“I felt like my silence was myself being complicit,” she said. “I have people in my life that I feel like I needed to come out here for and support. I work with refugees in Aurora, and I identify as a queer woman of color. … I just wanted to come out and stand up for them.”
Rachel Johnson is from Denver. She said she hasn’t previously participated in protests, but this one was different for her.
“From what I’ve learned, both in school, and honestly more outside of school, is that inequality has seeped its way into every part of society from education, to the criminal justice system, to jobs, to opportunities in housing, to health care,” she said. “There isn’t a part of society that you can look at that hasn’t been touched in some way by inequality. … It’s not going to be fixed tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to fix it now.”
Julius Philpot spoke at a rally at Civic Center Park before the 9 p.m. curfew. He said he was a former police officer and military veteran and that he spoke with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen on Thursday to voice his concerns.
Philpot said that Black Coloradans should help white Americans understand what it’s like to live in America when you are a racial minority. “When you have an ally asking you a question, do not turn the other cheek. If you want Black lives to matter, educate them,” he said.
A theme of the night was also what educators could do to help.
Christina Damon is a teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in East Denver. She urged her fellow teachers to call out bad behavior when they see it among their colleagues, especially when educators are trying to discuss diversity in meetings and others are not paying attention.
“It is the ultimate privilege to speak out when it’s uncomfortable for you,” she said.
Marchers from the Auraria campus joined protesters at the Capitol also.
Protesters ahead of the 9 p.m. curfew also sang songs and urged people to go home before the curfew took effect.
As people gathered at the State Capitol after the curfew, people projected light onto the Capitol building that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Let us breathe.”
Another large group marched south on Broadway and chanted as they walked through the street. A group of people sat in the street near 10th and Lincoln as police watched nearby around 10 p.m. Police had blocked off roads around there, but did not move to arrest people who were out in defiance of the city’s curfew order.