Denver prosecutors on Wednesday announced they are dismissing 320 cases brought against people accused of violating the city’s curfew during George Floyd protests in recent weeks.
The Denver City Attorney’s Office says it is dropping the charges for people who were not accused of additional crimes related to destructive or violent behavior during the demonstrations.
“We recognize the profound value of peaceful protest, especially now,” City Attorney Kristin Bronson said in a written statement. “We are dismissing the curfew violations as part of a nonpunitive, restorative approach outside of the court system.”
The curfew was enacted on May 30, after downtown buildings and public art installations were damaged as the protests turned into mayhem after dark. It was lifted on June 12.
Those whose charges are being dismissed will be invited to a forum with Denver police “so their experiences and perspectives can be heard,” the City Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The charges, Bronson’s office says, will be dismissed “effective immediately.” Violators faced a fine of up to $999 and up to 300 days in jail.
The decision to drop curfew charges is the latest development in the fallout related to the city’s handling of the demonstrations that sprung up after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May. So far, Denver’s police department has been blasted by a federal judge for its response and state lawmakers are poised to outlaw the tactics used by officers.
Meanwhile, Denver City Council members have called for an investigation into the Denver Police Department’s reaction to the protests and there’s talk of taking power, money and the ability to oversee law enforcement in the city away from the mayor’s office.
“We support all First Amendment-based protests, but we could not support the violent, destructive behavior that occurred in the early days of the protests,” Bronson said in her statement. “The city was required to institute the curfew to mitigate risk to life and property. I am hopeful that by dismissing the charges and opening another forum for dialogue between the community, law enforcement and the city, we can listen and learn from each other.”
Floyd died May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. There have been more than two weeks of demonstrations across the nation in response.
Updated at 12:08 p.m. on June 19, 2020: This story has been corrected to reflect that George Floyd died on May 25.