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Workers began removing anti-police brutality graffiti from the Colorado State Capitol buillding behind a newly erected fence on Monday, July 20, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado has begun cleaning and repairing the state Capitol building after damage that occurred during weeks of protests that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May.

The Department of Personnel and Administration says the work is expected to cost more than $1 million and last into the winter.

Crews began washing away the graffiti on the building over the weekend.

DPA said it began cleaning up the Capitol because although demonstrations around the building continue, vandalism has subsided enough that headway can be made on the repairs.

GH Phipps, the contractor that will complete the restoration of the building, was recently able to install a fence around the building to begin the work.

A couple looks at graffiti on the Colorado Capitol building’s east side on May 31, 2020, following a night of protests against racism and police violence. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

“We have been addressing these issues since day one as they have arisen, but unfortunately, those efforts have largely gone unnoticed as vandalism continued every day for weeks,” Kara Veitch, executive director of the DPA, said in a written statement. “We are dedicated to returning these historic buildings to a pristine state, but we need to do so judiciously to ensure we don’t further damage the buildings. We are committed to being responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars while doing this job the right way.”

Windows and doors were broken and destroyed during the demonstrations, and the Capitol building was covered in graffiti by protesters, much of it blasting police.

Many conservatives have lambasted Gov. Jared Polis for not acting sooner to clean up the Capitol. One GOP state lawmaker called the state of the building “a disgrace.”

Protest organizers decried the vandalism and many gathered to help clean up the Capitol, which was the center of demonstrations following Floyd’s death. But the building has remained covered in a collage of messages, its windows boarded up to prevent further destruction.

Colorado spent $16 million overhauling the Capitol building between 2010 and 2014.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....