Demonstrators gathered for a rally in Arvada and a protest in Denver’s Cheesman Park on Wednesday, a day after an uncertain national election that kept Colorado voters in suspense.
While President Trump has made several claims about winning key battleground states, the race had still not been called by any major news organization as of Wednesday evening. Former Vice President Joe Biden won Colorado by a comfortable margin and currently has a projected electoral vote edge over the president based on preliminary results. Preliminary results also show Biden easily won Denver.
Outside Arvada City Hall, cars honked and people prayed as Robin Kupernik and dozens of demonstrators gathered for a protect-the-vote rally organized by Arvadans for Progressive Action. Kupernik is hoping for a fair election outcome but said statements by Trump imperiled democracy.
“We all just have to take a deep breath and be patient and have faith in the folks who are counting the votes,” she said.
Arvada resident Pat Malone helped organize the rally after attending a training session from “Choose Democracy,” an open platform that encourages responsible activism. The topic was what to do in case there was a coup. She remembers the trainer saying, “people usually don’t get notice that there might be a coup, and we’ve got notice.”
As anxiety over the 2020 election escalated, Malone said it didn’t matter what people’s political beliefs were. She saw a common bond among the people taking the training: They were frightened of losing their democracy. She wondered if she was supposed to show up in Washington, D.C. The trainer told the group to take a page from the Black Lives Matter movement, which amassed its power and relevance from being spread out across the nation.
“It’s [BLM] everywhere, it’s people in small towns, big towns, urban, rural they’re everywhere, and so it’s critical that we be everywhere,” Malone said.
“I just want every vote counted,” said Malone, holding a sign with the same message. “You know, Trump might win it if every vote is counted. So I honestly don’t understand why everybody wouldn’t embrace that. It’s our democracy and we’ve lost so much.”
Malone said American elections have been “battered,” pointing to “systemic voter suppression.”
“If we can’t even elect and get through an election, oh my gosh, I honestly feel like we’re done.”
In Cheesman Park, about 50 demonstrators huddled in small groups for a protest and march.
Brian Loma, who described himself as a First Amendment advocate and citizen journalist, said the gathering was a “community solidarity event.”
When approached by a reporter, several other people declined to comment but indicated they’d likely march from the park to the state Capitol building.
Around 6:30 p.m., a group that included supporters of Black Lives Matter and anti-police protestors prepared to march from the park to the state Capitol building. Organizers read out a phone number for legal assistance and encouraged marchers to write it down.
The crowd swelled to about 100 as the march started. One small group of demonstrators set fire to pro-police flags and a Trump campaign banner. Others sang chants against Trump, Biden and the Denver Police Department as they marched down Colfax Avenue carrying a banner that read, “Death to fascism and the liberalism that enables it” and chanting, “the cops and the Klan go hand-in-hand.”
Police officers kept their distance as marchers approached the Capitol. Someone in the crowd tossed out a canister that spewed colorful smoke while another demonstrator dressed in all black later spray-painted a metal utility box.
The mood and actions of demonstrators and police changed as the march moved toward the District 6 police station in downtown Denver. At least one protestor threw a firework at the station, which prompted officers to respond with what appeared to be tear gas and pepper-spray projectiles.
Reporters saw several other officers moving near the station, including ones wearing tactical gear who followed protestors with armored vehicles.
After protesters marched along a strip of Colfax between Grant and Franklin streets, broken glass was visible near some businesses. A man who declined to provide his name but identified himself as a manager at New Money Express said a person dressed in black clothing shattered the storefront window with a rock.
Eight people were arrested on complaints of criminal mischief, assault and weapons violations, said Denver police spokesperson Doug Schepman. Officers recovered a handgun, knife, hammer and bear spray, and took reports of graffiti, property damage and a fire in an overturned dumpster, he said. Schepman said officers used “pepperballs and mace during the protest.”
The protest was promoted by the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists’ Twitter account. Another group, Northern Colorado Community Mutual Aid and Defense, promoted a crowd-sourced bail fund to free two protesters it said police arrested Wednesday.
This is a developing story and will be updated.