DENVER (KDVR) — Denver’s police force called the city’s George Floyd protests “unprecedented,” and a national police chiefs’ report echoed that, calling them “record-setting.”
Nationally, 2,037 police officers were injured in the protests. Denver saw 81 police officers and at least 74 civilians injured.
Figures are still murky, but other cities have claimed more civilian and police victims violence. A New York City’s police commissioner said more than 350 NYPD officers were injured, while differing reports count hundreds or thousands of civilian injuries.
However, according to compilation of police reports, Denver’s protests saw more widespread violence than any other major U.S. or Canadian city.
Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor says the city’s police department showed troubling trends and uses of force during the George Floyd protests that occurred in late May and early June. The OIM found misuses of less-lethal weapons against protestors and a large enough lack of evidence that it could neither confirm nor disconfirm criticisms that the Denver Police Department used generally excessive force.
“During our review, some community members expressed the belief that the DPD relied too heavily on less-lethal equipment and munitions used tactics that exacerbated conflicts and left to more uses of force than would have otherwise been necessary,” read the report. “Others pointed to the large number of DPD officer injuries, the significant property damage in Denver, and the prolonged and dangerous protests in other cities as evidence that the force used by the DPD was largely necessary. Given the documentary gaps discussed above, it was impossible for the OIM to evaluate these competing claims or to resolve them with this report.”
The report says DPD’s lack of certain information was understandable considering the speed with which the protests arose and their sheer scope, referring to the protests as “unprecedented.”
Denver’s police dealt with the most violent of all major American cities, according to a report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a collaboration of chiefs and sheriffs from 68 U.S. and Canadian cities.
Sixty-eight police agencies furnished MCCA with arrest and use of force data from the protests. Of them, only three major law enforcement agencies reported over 60% of their protests involved some level of violence: Columbus, Ohio, Portland, Oregon, and Denver.
This widespread violence may in part explain the Denver Police Department’s much-criticized used of projectiles and other less-lethal munitions. According to the MCCA report, Denver used a correspondingly larger amount of less-lethal ammunition with its larger proportion of violence. Most cities used these methods sparingly.
The MCCA report analyzed numbers from its agencies on how much CS gas, pepper balls, high volume pepper spray, kinetic projectiles and less-lethal shotguns were used by city.
The report records that DPD deployed less-lethal munitions in fewer of the protests than involved either civil disobedience or violence.
Respectively, Denver saw 68% of protests with some kind of violence and 100% with some civil disobedience. 40 mm projectiles, pepper balls, CS gas and less lethal shotguns were used in 16%, 20%, 24% and 24% of the protests, respectively.