Protest Watch

Denver Protests: Is the Curfew Now Hurting More Than It's Helping?

Denver police begin to clear out the last of the protesters early today, as seen in this screen capture from a video by Dylan Beresford.
Denver police begin to clear out the last of the protesters early today, as seen in this screen capture from a video by Dylan Beresford.
Day six of protests in downtown Denver was mostly peaceful prior to a police action to clear out the last of the demonstrators during the wee hours of this morning, June 3. But there are increasing indications that a curfew imposed by Mayor Michael Hancock in response to rioting and vandalism at the end of previous days' rallies may be causing more problems than it's solving at this point.

For proof, see the video below shot and shared by Dylan Beresford, one of the most interesting and insightful of the live-streamers currently documenting the demonstrations in the Mile High City.

As noted by Conor McCormick-Cavanagh, the organized part of the protest ended around 11 p.m., with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement asking participants to peacefully disperse — and most did. At around the 1:37 minute mark of the video, Beresford asks a young African-American man how he feels about the "Fuck the curfew" sentiment. "I agree with 'Fuck the curfew,'" he says. "However, the city is going to do what they do. They have the power over us, and they're going to get us out of here" by using force at some point after midnight.

Nonetheless, a sizable contingent marked by a large percentage of young white men chose to remain behind, and in conversations with Beresford, several make it clear how important defying the curfew is to them. At around the 1:41 minute mark, one man who claims to have been shot in the face by a rubber bullet says, "Go home? No. All the times they let us walk around the city, and if we go home, that's it. What did we do? What did we do?"

Here's the video:

A group of four people interviewed at approximately the 1:52 minute mark argues that the curfew is a violation of their right to free speech.

"All they've done for literally hundreds of years is silence us," one woman says. "We're asking them to let us speak, and they still refuse."

When asked if she thinks shit is going to go down shortly, the woman nods and replies, "Yes, I do."

It does at approximately 2:55 minutes into the video, when Beresford captures a police line marching on the last stragglers among the protesters. Shouts of "Fall back!" and "Go home!" are greeted by two contrasting reactions: One man states "Black lives — peaceful demonstration" while another screams, "Fuck you!" Then the flash-bangs and the pepper-ball shooting starts.

"Man, I just got hit twice," Beresford comments with the casualness of a veteran. He adds, "Yo, everybody's gone."

Would nothing have happened if the police had simply stayed back rather than cleared the streets again, citing a 9 p.m. curfew that had passed hours earlier? Expect that question to resonate again tonight and for as long as the protests last.