The evening started with a small rally in Civic Center Park, after a larger daytime gathering to mark the 57th anniversary of the March On Washington wrapped up. The crowd listened to speakers and music, while on the fringes people waited dressed in assorted body armor and helmets, carrying homemade shields and a few bats.
They said they’d come prepared to defend the protest, aware from accounts on social media that counter-demonstrators were likely on their way.
As the night wore on, the crowd began to march east, in the direction of the Denver Police Department’s District Six precinct station. Many carried umbrellas against the inconsistent rain. With people pushed up against the station’s exterior fence, police used chemical agents on the crowd, clearing the street.
Around 11 p.m., a group of counter-protesters did arrive and also began to march east from the Capitol along 14th Avenue. Dressed in camouflage and wearing helmets, the group did not answer questions from reporters, but repeated the phrases “Happy Halloween” and “I am Kyle.”
It’s unclear whether they were referring to Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who killed two protesters in Kenosha Tuesday night. Rittenhouse has become a polarized symbol in the national debate over ongoing protest movements, their opposition, and the increasing prevalence of weapons on both sides.
The two groups of protesters did find each other and face off. Soon after, officers pushed the original protesters back down the street, occasionally deploying pepper balls to keep the group moving.
By midnight, most people appeared to have dispersed and the streets were quiet.
This is the second weekend in a row that the Capitol area has seen late night protests and confrontations.