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Protesters, Denver police clash for second hectic night near Capitol

Officers deployed tear gas and nonlethal projectiles near the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street. The demonstration lasted for hours.

A protest at the Colorado Capitol on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Moe Clark, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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Protesters and Denver police clashed for hours on Friday for a second straight chaotic night in the area around the Colorado Capitol.

Officers deployed tear gas and nonlethal projectiles near the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street. Loud bangs and smoke filled the crowd.

A few demonstrators were using a portable road construction sign as a shield. Others were dousing their faces in milk to battle the effects of tear gas.

Protesters were chanting and motorists honking their vehicle’s horns. Some people were running to get away from the hectic scene.

Smoke near envelops protesters near the Colorado Capitol on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Moe Clark, The Colorado Sun)

“What we are doing is trying to maintain a peaceful situation,” Denver police Chief Paul Pazen told Denver7. “… We need calm. We need restraint.”

Pazen said several of his officers have been injured.

The protesters are demonstrating in reaction to a black man’s death at the hand of police in Minnesota on Monday.

George Floyd died in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck for almost eight minutes in an encounter that was filmed and has been widely viewed. On Friday morning, Derek Chauvin, one of the four Minneapolis police officers fired after Floyd’s death, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The protests in Denver on Friday night come after a round of demonstrations a day earlier.

A protest at the Colorado Capitol on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Moe Clark, Special to The Colorado Sun)

On Thursday night, protesters damaged vehicles and vandalized the Capitol with graffiti. One protester was struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run and gunfire even erupted at one point.

There were no reports of serious injuries.

After Thursday’s protests, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock asked demonstrators to avoid destructive and violent behavior.

Hancock told Denver7 he was disappointed by the clashes Friday night.

“What we’re seeing is destructive. It’s needless. It’s senseless, it’s unfortunate for everyone in Denver,” Hancock said.

A protest at the Colorado Capitol on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Moe Clark, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Protests began in Denver on Friday morning and were mostly peaceful until about 8 p.m. when demonstrators began clashing with officers.

Tay Anderson, a Denver Public Schools board member, was leading demonstrators on peaceful marches and several rallies throughout the day. He asked for calm.

On Friday night he tweeted that he was in tears over the chaos that erupted.

“I begged people to go home and some refused to listen,” he said. “… THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WANTED.”

At about 9 p.m. many protesters had left the area around the Capitol. Traffic was still being allowed to pass through the surrounding streets and motorists were navigating through smoke and what appeared to be tear gas.

Demonstrators blocked some streets only to return to the Capitol at about 9:30 p.m. and engage officers once again. Images from the scene showed protesters rushing toward the Capitol steps and being driven back by smoke and pepper spray. At one point, a Dumpster was ablaze.


Staff writer Moe Clark contributed to this report.


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