Saturday, June 6: The Day In Review
Saturday marked the tenth day of protests in Colorado following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. From Denver to Greeley, KUNC reporters recap what happened today.
Protesters buoyed by Denver order limiting the use of tear gas, rubber bullets
Protesters said they were encouraged by a recent court ruling that limits police use-of-force tactics during peaceful demonstrations. The order, issued by a federal judge late Friday, immediately barred Denver officers from firing weapons such as tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators unless a captain or high-ranking officer deems it necessary “in response to specific acts of violence or destruction of property that the command officer has personally witnessed.”
The lawsuit was brought by four Denver residents who were injured during clashes with police in late May. The city’s police department said in a tweet it would comply with the new rules, “Many of which are already in line with our community-consulted Use of Force Policy,” and that it was “asking for modifications to the order.”
On the steps of the state Capitol building Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators held signs and listened throughout the afternoon as community activists gave speeches over a megaphone.
Carolyn Phillips, 72, held a sign listing the names of 30 unarmed African-Americans killed by police in the past decade, including George Floyd. Phillips said the federal judge’s ruling was one indication that her activism was making a difference.
“It feels like -- finally -- we may see change,” Phillips said. “George Floyd is a catalyst for change. What we cannot do is go back to business as usual.”
Broncos players lead peaceful protest, march in Denver
Members of the Denver Broncos held a peaceful protest in downtown Denver on Saturday. Defensive player Jeremiah Attaochu kicked off the event with a prayer, then spoke to hundreds of protesters gathered at the Greek Theater in Civic Center Park.
Attaochu and his teammates want to be agents of change, he said.
“That’s the only way we’re gonna fix things is if we use our voices to speak out on policies and things that are not allowing our people to be successful, to have a chance in life,” he said. “We can’t keep putting a band-aid on an old wound.”
Several players addressed the crowd including Superbowl 50 MVP Von Miller, who said the “time is always right to do what’s right.”
Head coach Vic Fangio also attended the protest. Earlier this week he apologized for saying he had not seen racism or discrimination in the NFL.
"While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand that many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives. I should have been more clear and I am sorry,” he wrote in a statement on the Broncos’ website.
Fangio said he looks forward to listening, supporting and working with the players to create meaningful change.
In Greeley, 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence
In Greeley’s Monfort Park, the protest started with speeches from community leaders and people of color sharing their experiences with police. Then, the crowd fell silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd.
Hannah Mow, one of the organizers, said one of the goals is to change how people think about Greeley by encouraging people of color to share their experiences of racism in the community.
“There’s people here we need to protect,” Mow said. “I’m sick of people perceiving Greeley to be a conservative, white town because it’s not. There’s so much more than that.”
Community leaders also called on local police oversight groups to refocus so they can maintain open communication between the police and residents.
“I just really think that if we’re going to see a change, then we need to make sure all our boards, commissions, and all our elected offices really reflect our community,” said Rhonda Solis, a member of the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education. “We can’t really make change unless we have all those voices at the table.”
Longmont protesters balance two epidemics
A health condition prevented Longmont resident Anna Daily from participating in the march with others. Instead, she and her dog took to her fourth-floor balcony, where she raised a sign as protesters marched below.
“I chose to participate from my balcony because I am high risk for COVID,” said Daily. “But, we are also experiencing a centuries-long epidemic of violence against black Americans in this country.”
Others at the demonstration echoed the same sentiment, calling police brutality a “pandemic of racism” and a “virus.”
“Say his name: George Floyd! Say her name: Breonna Taylor!,” protest organizers called through the megaphone, occasionally reminding participants to maintain social distance.
A volunteer snaked through the crowd with a tub of masks, for any of the early-afternoon protesters who wanted one.
Earlier this week, a number of public health experts spoke out in support of protesters, despite the fact that demonstrations require large gatherings.
“It’s very important to remind all of us this is a public health issue -- racism is. We should speak up and we should not accept it,” said Ali Mokdad with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. More than 100,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, he noted. “But in my opinion, racism is more dangerous to my country than COVID-19.”