Second George Floyd Protest Keeps the Peace

Denver School Board member Tay Anderson addressed the crowd.
Evan Semon Photography
Denver School Board member Tay Anderson addressed the crowd.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol at noon today, May 29, to again demand justice for George Floyd and to express frustration with how they were treated by Denver police officers during the May 28 protest.

"I am pissed that people are trying to justify the actions of the Denver Police Department," said Tay Anderson, a member of the Denver School Board, over a megaphone.

As demonstrators cheered him on, Anderson criticized the department's use of tear gas to disperse protesters, saying that there were children at the May 28 rally who'd struggled to breathe. Police officers had also fired pepper-spray balls from paintball guns at demonstrators; the decision to use this "less lethal force" came after officers were pelted by rocks, according to Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen.

At a press conference just an hour before today's rally started, both Mayor Michael Hancock and Pazen expressed their support of the people's right to protest, and said that they believe the confrontations between police and demonstrators on May 28 were caused by just a handful of "instigators."

"We strongly encourage you to demonstrate peacefully," Hancock said.

And while the animosity over Denver police actions last night was obvious at today's protest, there were no altercations between demonstrators and officers, who stayed blocks away from the rally.

After gathering at the Capitol steps, hundreds of protesters moved onto Lincoln Street, intermittently blocking traffic.

"I can't breathe," marchers chanted as they walked toward the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park. While Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on the neck of Floyd for multiple minutes on May 25, the 46-year-old Minneapolis man had said those words to Chauvin. Floyd later lost consciousness, and then died. Chauvin has now been arrested and charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder.

Marchers also drew hammer-and-sickle pictures with chalk on buildings they passed and wrote "ACAB" — short for "All Cops Are Bastards" — on the sidewalks.

Protesters spent around twenty minutes at the Greek Amphitheater before dispersing. During that time, individuals associated with Baumgartner Law, a local law firm that specializes in police-brutality issues, handed out fliers with contact information.

Throughout the protest, there was little contact between demonstrators and drivers. An incident last night, however, continues to get national airplay: After a protester jumped on a car that was trying to make its way through the crowd, the protester jumped off — and the driver then swerved the car into the man. Police are still investigating that incident, as well as gunshots fired shortly after the 5 p.m. rally got under way.

As a result of last night's violence, RTD canceled all service in downtown Denver today; the Colorado Legislature did not meet, and Denver closed city buildings downtown at 2 p.m.

Protesters are set to return to the Capitol at 7 p.m. tonight, and at various other times through the weekend.