Group protests ahead of annual marade, says it’s upholding true legacy of King

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DENVER -- Martin Luther King Jr. might be looking down on Denver and smiling. On a holiday to honor his legacy, a peaceful protest disrupted Denver’s 32nd annual MLK marade.

Men and women from a local group, Black Lives Matter 5280, used a megaphone and chanted during a rally before thousands marched out of City Park to Civic Center Park.

It was a protest, in part, against government officials. One after the other, local and state leaders took to the microphone to honor King.

There was Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Corey Gardner, Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Michael Coffman and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to name a few.
Then there was a disruption.

“We come here to proclaim the truth that black lives matter,” said Amy Brown with Black Lives Matter 5280.

The group said it upholds the true spirit of King in standing up for the poor, the weak and the voiceless.

“I’m growing really tired of year after year of these kinds of hollow shows that are put on, where elected officials make lovely speeches. But their work does not acknowledge Dr. King’s legacy at all. And it is not working on behalf of black and brown people and poor people here,” Brown said.

It is a message they took with them during the marade to a community forum where candidates for Denver’s highest law enforcement office -- the district attorney -- addressed the community and their concerns.

“How do they intend to change the very structure, the racist, oppressive, white supremacist structure of evil: the criminal injustice system?” questioned an impassioned Jumoke Emery with Black Lives Matter 5280.

The group also called on Denver’s top officials to make public a video showing the recent death of jail inmate Michael Marshall, 50.

“We want transparency. We want to know what happened. We would like those deputies to be dismissed that were involved,” said Bianca Pullen with Black Lives Matter 5280.

“The DA has the ability to hold the officers who killed Michael Marshall accountable and we want (a DA) who will,” said Roshan Bliss with Denver Justice Project.

Bliss helped plan the candidate forum at Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver. The four candidates are Bath McCann, Helen Morgan, Michael Carrigan and Kenneth Boyd. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is term-limited.

It is the group’s goal to make positive change through protest, by standing up and saying they won’t be quiet anymore.

“We know this work is not popular all the time. We are not here to be liked. We are here to make change. And that’s not comfortable,” Pullen said.

Black Lives Matter 5280 also asked Hancock to honor King by repealing Denver’s urban camping ban on the homeless and to create more affordable housing they say has nearly evaporated with gentrification.

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