Hundreds of peaceful protesters filled the parks and streets of downtown Denver throughout Saturday, gathering for the tenth consecutive day in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Much of the day’s focus was on the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park, where speaker after speaker recounted their own experiences of racism and police injustice, and extorted the crowd to push for change. The gathered demonstrators chanted along with activist Elisabeth Epps as she called out, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Several Broncos players also spoke at the microphone early in the day before marching with protesters down Lincoln Street.
“The time is always right to do what’s right,” Von Miller told the crowd.
For Shawn Bosley, it was his fifth day of demonstrating since the protests began. He said he’s marching for future generations so they don’t have to.
“We’re out here today just to stand for justice, to stand for change,” he said, pausing from marching with alongside a group of friends. “We’re out here up against not only systematic oppression but the fact that black folks can still be killed on the street, in media, live on TV, without any justice being served.”
The mood of somber hope continued into the early evening. On the way up to the plaza outside the state capitol, an artist has drawn portraits of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a 27-year-old EMT who was killed by police in her apartment in Louisville, KY. Demonstrators wreathed the images in flowers.
Bouquets of flowers also adorned War Memorial Park to memorialize Floyd. Demonstrators were friendly and kind to one another, handing out water, snacks and hand sanitizer.
“There is so much love to everyone out here,” said Tegan Davis, who traveled to downtown Denver from Aurora. It was her first day of joining the protests, she added.
“I am out because I’m tired of not talking and I’m tired of just standing back and not saying anything. So let’s do this thing, let’s get it done,” David said.
In the evening, protesters marched along Broadway and Lincoln before returning to the park as the sun set, where some seemed to be settling in for a while.
Others continued on the streets of Capitol Hill, at one point massing outside Police District Six headquarters. Officers stood outside the building, separated from demonstrators by a chainlink fence. A similar scene ended in clouds of teargas earlier in the week. But on Saturday, officers appeared to abide by a court ruling, restricting their use of projectiles and chemical agents.
Strong storms did sweep through Denver on Saturday afternoon, but they didn’t deter protesters downtown, or elsewhere in the metro area. In Aurora, demonstrators gathered at the Municipal Center in memory of Elijah McClain, a young man killed by Aurora Police last year. In the thick of the storm, many remained on the plaza, declaring, “even with rain, we will remain. We are reclaiming our space.”
In Green Valley Ranch, a student-led demonstration poured onto Pena Boulevard, shutting down traffic for several minutes as people lay down across the roadway, chanting “I can’t breathe,” according to a reporter with CBS Denver.
As dusk fell, marchers covered Broadway and marched to the Governor’s mansion, where leaders on megaphones shouted that the people – not politicians – are the true power wielders in society.
Then, the group of hundreds marched north on Washington Street to Denver Police District 6 headquarters, where a week ago officers in riot gear fired tear gas and pepper bullets at the crowd. This time, the first full day after a federal judge ordered restrictions on nonlethal weapons against protesters, officers stood at the ready behind temporary chain-link fences but did not interact with the crowd.
March leaders, who said they were from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, invited Black speakers to address the crowd. One made a point to speak about the size of Denver’s budget for its Department of Safety, which includes police and accounted for more than a quarter of the city’s spending in 2019. On the other hand, she said, Colorado has one of the highest rates of officer-involved shootings of any state in the nation.
Protesters chanted as they walked back toward the capitol. Civic Center Park’s Greek Amphitheatre held a crowd taking turns telling stories about police brutality and singing at the mic. On the Capitol, someone projected: “We can’t breathe. Stop killer cops.”