Denver protests against racism and police violence, day 12
A crowd of several hundred gathered at the State Capitol, where one tense moment with a police SUV ended peacefully.
Updated June 8, 10:22 p.m.
Protesters gathered at the State Capitol today for the twelfth day in a row to speak out against racism and police brutality. Several hundred people lined Lincoln Street in front of the State Capitol while holding signs and chanting around 5 p.m. Cars honked in support.
That included around a couple dozen protesters in scrubs who identified themselves as medical students and as part of a group called White Coats For Black Lives.
Jeremy Ansah-Twum, a second-year medical student at the University of Colorado, said he sees more health professionals and students who study health care getting active in this movement for racial justice.
“This past week has been incredible,” he said. “It’s been a huge response from not just our black citizens but our white counterparts and all different races coming out here to support our cause of racial equality in the justice system, in healthcare and in all areas of life.”
Participants also marched for blocks in areas surrounding the Capitol building. While demonstrations stayed peaceful, one tense moment did unfold during an encounter with police near 14th Avenue and Lincoln Street just after 7:30 p.m.
A police SUV with two officers inside stopped on Lincoln and appeared to block a couple lanes just north of the intersection. That’s when protesters started to surround the vehicle while chanting, and some knelt down. Soon a voice came over the microphone of another nearby squad car telling people to back away. But instead, some protesters started to lie in the street face-down.
They stayed there in recognition of the nearly 9 minutes that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to the neck of George Floyd, who died while in police custody last month. A protest organizer then directed people to get up and keep marching. But before they left, someone placed a bouquet of flowers on the SUV.
“Just the fact that there are people out here still today is a good sign to me,” said Gabriel Lavine, who is 28 and lives in Denver. “People come out when they can, but like they’ve still got to work and stuff.”
Lavine said he thinks the protests will continue until trials are held for officers involved in high-profile cases of police brutality in Colorado and nationwide. That includes Chauvin, who’s been charged with second-degree murder for Floyd’s death, and the three other former officers accused of aiding and abetting murder.
“I think the biggest days to look forward to will be the court dates, whenever decisions are handed down,” Lavine said. “I feel like the smoke hasn’t even settled yet. There’s a lot of accountability that still needs to happen before anybody is willing to stop screaming.”
To some protesters, this movement feels different than previous ones. It’s even resulted in some policy changes. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that police couldn’t use certain crowd-control devices, including pepper balls and tear gas, against peaceful protesters, like those who have participated in the majority of gatherings downtown. On Sunday, Denver police announced they would stop using chokeholds.
This is a developing story.