Property destroyed, roads closed as protests demanding justice for George Floyd turn violent in Denver

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DENVER (KDVR) — Protests demanding justice for George Floyd, the man killed by an officer in Minneapolis this week, turned violent in central Denver on Thursday.

Shortly after protesters gathered at the Colorado State Capitol, about 5:35 p.m., at least five shots were fired. Officers at the scene told people to hit the ground.

According to the Denver Police Department, no injuries were reported.

At least two groups of protesters marched through the streets, forcing road closures.

One group traveled south of the Capitol, along Lincoln Street and Broadway.

A separate group was in the Lower Downtown and Union Station areas. Those demonstrators eventually made their way onto Interstate 25, forcing traffic to a standstill near 15th Street about 7:10 p.m.

DPD officers used tear gas to disperse crowds.

In another incident near the Capitol, video from Annabel Escobar showed a man falling from a vehicle’s hood before its driver struck him on Broadway:

Protesters damaged two vehicles parked outside the Capitol. One of them is a Colorado State Patrol car.

The Capitol building itself was vandalized with spray paint, and several of its windows were broken.

Later Thursday night, about 8:30 p.m., DPD again used tear gas as well as pepper spray to disperse crowds that had gathered near East Colfax Avenue and Washington Street. Demonstrators had thrown rocks, water bottles and other objects at officers.

Shortly after 9 p.m., police launched gas canisters at protesters. Some canisters were thrown back at officers.

By 10:30 p.m., the situation had calmed but several hundred people and a large police presence remained in the Civic Center area.

About 11 p.m., DPD said most downtown streets had reopened but officers were continuing to monitor smaller groups of protesters.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued the following statement:

“Like all of you, I am outraged at the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His life matters and Denver has joined the chorus of those across the country demanding change and reform and consequences.  And yes, we will protest loudly and make our voices heard. But we must not turn on one another. We must stand united.

“The men and women of the Denver Police Department are not the enemy. For the last three months as we have weathered the storm of this terrible pandemic, they have put their lives at great risk protecting all of us. The road to recovery is before us, and all of us – black, Latino, Asian, white – all of us must recover together. That doesn’t mean we stand silent when injustice occurs – whether in Minneapolis or in Georgia or in our nation’s capital. We do not stand silent. We move, we act, and with respect, we create change – together.

“More than ever, we need to all pull together, because we can remake this world together, guided by equity and tolerance and justice.”

Gov. Jared Polis also issued a statement:

“Tonight is a very sad night for our state. While we are still uncovering all of the facts about what took place, a protest regarding the killing of George Floyd devolved into vandalism and violence, and I was absolutely shocked by video evidence of a motorist attempting to run over a protestor. Coloradans are better than this. I share the immense anguish we all feel about the unjust murder of George Floyd. But let me be clear, senseless violence will never be healed by more violence. 

“These are extremely difficult times for our state, country, and world. Now more than ever we need to lift each other up and do right by each other. I ask everyone to make their voice heard peacefully and to turn their anger into advocacy and action — never violence.”

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