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They’re young, they’re local: 5 charts that explain who is getting arrested at the Denver protests

More than 350 people have been arrested or cited at the demonstrations over George Floyd’s death since they began last week.

A protester kneels on the ground during a demonstration on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Denver in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minnesota. (Joe Mahoney, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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For a week straight, demonstrators have marched in downtown Denver to protest against racism, police violence and the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd. And while the protests have been largely peaceful — thousands of people attended Wednesday night’s march, with both moments of levity and moments of emotion — police have also made hundreds of arrests.

To learn more about who is getting arrested and why, The Colorado Sun looked through police summaries, jail booking records and county court dockets for arrests made or citations issued related to the first six days of the protests — from May 28 through June 2. In that time, we found 358 people who were arrested or cited at the protests. (The actual number of cases is 359 because one person appears to have been arrested twice.)

Here are five charts that explain what we learned.

MORE: Day and night: Organizers of Denver protests say mayhem after dark is muddying their message

They’re young

More than half of the protesters arrested are age 26 or younger. There’s been a handful of arrests of juveniles — at least 11, according to police — but most are in their late teens and early 20s. The most common age for those arrested or cited is 19 years old. 

They’re local

For protesters whose place of residence has been released, the overwhelming majority are from Colorado, with about half of those coming from Denver. Only 11 are listed as being from out of state.

The police data has its limitations. In their tallies, police list the place of residence for the largest chunk of protesters as “unknown.” Reporters at 9News combed through other public records to learn where protesters in the “unknown” group actually live — and found that many are also from Denver or elsewhere in Colorado. But this chart is based on the police data as it was originally released.

They’re mostly white, with a caveat

Nearly three-quarters of people arrested or cited related to the protests have their race listed in court or jail records as white.

This comes with a caveat, though. The official records The Sun looked at do not differentiate based on ethnic origin. So the category of white includes both people who are of Hispanic origin and those who are of non-Hispanic origin. It is unclear whether defendants were asked to volunteer their race or whether law enforcement authorities assessed it on their own. The Sun did not attempt to independently verify the race information contained in the records.

The police response grew bigger each day, then relaxed

For the first four days of protests, the number of arrests and citations grew each day — and jumped when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock first declared a curfew on Saturday. After a noticeable change in tone and tactics, though, the number of arrests and citations dropped on Monday, then dropped more on Tuesday.

Most were charged with breaking curfew

There have been a handful of arrests for serious crimes — one person was charged with arson, another with assault, and a few for carrying dangerous weapons or throwing rocks or other projectiles.

But when it comes to protest-related offenses, the large majority — 85% — were arrested or cited for charges related to breaking curfew. Some protesters appear to have also been arrested on outstanding warrants or other things unrelated to the protests.


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