On the steps of the state Capitol, facing a crowd, Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday that they plan to introduce a bill to increase police transparency and accountability in Colorado. The legislation comes in response to protests against the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck.
“I want you all to know that your voices and your cries have been heard,” Rep. Leslie Herod (D) said. “We have family members who have been affected who have been fighting for this for years. And people have said, ‘It’s not time’.”
Rep. Herod was joined by family members who have lost loved ones after violent encounters with police.
“I hate to say this but I know exactly how George’s family feels,” said Natalia Marshall of George Floyd’s family. Her uncle, Michael Marshall, was killed by deputies in a Denver jail in 2015.
“Let’s put these murderers behind bars where they belong,” she said.
The new bill would change the standards for prosecuting individual police officers and prevent officers from getting a new position elsewhere after being fired.
Hours later, a large group of protesters marched through an otherwise quiet downtown Denver, chanting and holding signs.
“I would like not to be the next Sandra Bland. That’s what I would like,” Danielle Turner said. “I would like not to have to march. I have two brothers and two nephews. I would like not to have to cry because somebody killed them.”
In Denver, protests began Thursday evening. During the five nights since, the Denver Police Department says it has arrested over 300 people, mostly for curfew violations but also on other charges like weapons possession and arson.
“I would say a lot more mellowness has come out,” Denver resident Jay Sanders said after attending
multiple days of protests. “It’s become more of a point of justice and not just outrage.”
Sanders and others said that in marching, the main change they want is police reform.
Earlier in the day, the Denver Police Department (DPD) fired an officer for posting an image of himself and two others with the caption, “Let’s start a riot.”
In a tweet, DPD announced Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen “wants to start a dialogue” with a virtual community meeting set for Wednesday, June 3 at 6 p.m.