On Inauguration Day, protesters gathered outside the Colorado State Capitol to mark the end of Donald Trump's presidency. While most simply seemed relieved to be moving on, some of the demonstrators wanted to tell President Joe Biden that he shouldn't expect a honeymoon — and they had a banner to back that up.
"Although America is the greatest country in the world, it's not great for all of us. It's time for that to change," explained Nicholas Elijah Evans, an eleven-year-old Highlands Ranch STEM school student who got into activism this past summer during the demonstrations demanding justice for Elijah McClain.
His speech came hours after people began showing up at the Capitol, just before Biden took his oath of office on January 20. The gathering, which included a man dressed in a Captain America costume calling himself Colorado Captain, remained small until a march of leftists, anarchists and anti-fascists that had started at Cheesman Park arrived at the Capitol around 12:30 p.m.
After a handful of these marchers doused an American flag with fuel and set it on fire, a man carrying a shield with the slogan "All Lives Matter" attempted to extinguish the fire by slamming his shield on the flag. But other protesters, many dressed all in black, pushed and shoved the man until Colorado State Patrol troopers finally intervened and pulled the man with the shield out of the crowd.
Not long after that, protesters started arguing with a man wearing a Trump hat, the sole identifiable supporter of the outgoing president to show up at the Capitol, and someone pulled off the hat. As the tension began to escalate, Colorado State Patrol troopers ran up and intervened...but not before a person dressed in black and a face mask doused the Trump hat in lighter fluid, set it on fire and lit a cigarette from the flames.
That was it for physical confrontations on a day that was relatively quiet not just in Denver, but around the country — so quiet, in fact, that Denver's flag-burning incident made national news.
Otherwise, most of the action was at the mic. At around 2 p.m., about 100 people gathered behind the Capitol for musical performances and speeches, including that of Elijah Evans.
Some of the speakers came from the Colorado chapter of the Brown Berets, the Chicano liberation organization.
"We need reform. We need the police to be accountable when they kill our brothers and sisters," said a man named Greg, who didn't share his last name while speaking.
Tammy Trujillo, a member of the Colorado branch of the Working Families Party and a resident of Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, tore into her new representative, Lauren Boebert. "We are more than hate speech," Trujillo said, adding that it would take more than the usual once-every-two-years parachute-campaigning by Democratic leadership to build lasting power in CD3.
"Stand up, Denver, and demand our new president to make good on every promise," urged Elijah Evans. "To make good on every promise he made. We are not taking any more four years of lies and broken promises. We want that check cashed now, Biden. Send our families behind bars home. End the death penalty now. End the three-strike rule now. End police immunity now. And make a better world for me."