Denver Police Memorial Update: Flowers, Birds, Claim Only Blue Lives Matter

The outrage over the vandalism of a memorial to fallen Denver police officers shows no signs of abating. At 10 a.m. today, a group is encouraging supporters of the police to place flowers at the memorial — and as photos below demonstrate, plenty of them are already on display at the site.

Meanwhile, angry calls for the resignation of Denver Police Chief Robert White continue to circulate online along with photos like the one above, which was posted on the DPD Facebook page: One commentator reacted to it by writing, "Has the girl in the picture been arrested as yet?" There's also a report about a flyer left at the memorial that threatened a Denver police officer by name, as well as continued frustration expressed by protesters of police violence, including one who penned an essay on view below entitled "DPD, 'Only Blue Lives Matter.'"

As noted in our previous coverage, the Denver Police Protective Association — Denver's police union — is upset at an order to officers assigned to a Saturday protest of police violence where red paint was spilled over part of the memorial. The DPPA's complaint: Cops were told to allow the vandalism of the memorial before placing the suspects, Robert Guerrero and Matthew Goldberg, under arrest. Manager of Safety Stephanie O'Malley defends the tactic, which put her in the cross-hairs of the Fraternal Order of Police alongside White. The FOP also chastises Denver mayor Michael Hancock for not decrying the vandalism more quickly and has asked him to make amends by demanding that White and O'Malley resign.

These calls are echoed in many messages on the DPD Facebook page. Here are some examples:
The Chief, Mayor, et al are dishonorable and disgraceful. Allowing this is like allowing someone to piss on a grave. There is serious lack of respect and honor these days and anyone that thinks this sort of thing is acceptable is a vile sub-human piece of garbage. I guess the Chief wouldn't mind if people desecrated the graves of his deceased family and friends, it's just free speech after all.

I guess officers should stop and wait until after someone is murdered before arresting the perpetrator??? Morons, Chief should resign!!!!

Chief White: Please start backing Denver Police. Your policies along with Public Safety Stephanie O'Malley position are putting officers at risk! Try getting out from behind your desk and in the streets with the men and women you are supposed to be leading!

Your chief should resign. That Coward ordered the police not to interfere with the desecration of a memorial to fallen Police Officers. I am sure the FB admin will take this post down under orders.

Sad that your chief would allow desecration of the police memorial that honors fallen police officers. Vandalism is a criminal act. Chief White you display a shameful lack of respect and leadership.
In contrast, the Colorado branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has issued a public statement of support for White and his actions. The statement reads:
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado applauds Denver Police Chief Robert White and the officers in command during last Saturday’s protest for keeping the peace and not intervening in a way that might have caused the situation to escalate or become violent after two individuals illegally vandalized a police memorial.

“The ACLU of Colorado does not condone vandalism. We advocate for peaceful forms of demonstration that do not break the law. By all accounts, the vast majority of the protesters present at the demonstration exercised their free speech rights peacefully. When two individuals did break the law, rather than jeopardize the safety of the officers on duty and the crowd of law-abiding protesters, police did not intervene and waited to make an arrest until after the demonstration.

“In April 2012, the ACLU of Colorado wrote to Chief White to request a review of department policies and procedures relating to use of force and crowd management after an attempt by police to take down a tent during an Occupy Denver demonstration provoked an unnecessary violent confrontation, resulting in the use of pepper ball guns and batons against law-abiding demonstrators.

“In this instance, we commend Chief White and the commanding officers for exercising restraint and not escalating the situation. A public show of aggression by police at that moment would have not only risked the safety of all who were present, it would have further denigrated the already damaged trust between the public and law enforcement.”
Additionally, 9News is reporting about what it describes as a threatening flyer left at the memorial. The station quotes the message as reading, "DEAR (officer's name): WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND." However, numerous commenters have pointed out that video broadcast by 9News shows a sticker with this phrase and the name of Officer Jeffrey DiManna, who was involved in three vehicle-related shooting cases in six months, as Westword has reported.

Other voices have largely been drowned out by the furor over the memorial vandalism. In an attempt to counter that, Steven Bailey of Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition — a group that's been raising funds for family members of Ryan Ronquillo, shot dead by Denver police last year, who are about to lose their home — has penned an essay decrying what he sees as misplaced priorities. Here it is:
DPD, “Only Blue Lives Matter.”

The police response to the red paint pored over the fallen officer’s memorial during a protest in Denver is very telling. The red paint symbolized the blood of many unarmed people who have been killed or brutalized by Denver police. It was spread over the large DPD badge on the memorial, not the fallen officer’s names. The names and pictures of several unarmed victims of recent Denver police shootings were added to the names of the fallen officers.

Although I can not speak for the individuals who carried out the direct action, I find a strong statement in how the paint was applied. Although the action clearly states that blood is on Denver Police hands and we should honor the victims of police brutality, by not spilling the blood on the fallen officer’s names, it seems to state that when current officers spill the blood of the people they should protect, or cover up for those who do, they themselves dishonor the officers who have fallen.

Spokespeople for Denver Police unions, Chief White’s office, Mayor Hancock’s office and several individual officers have decried the symbolic action. It has truly upset the law enforcement community. Mayor Hancock and the police community are “pissed off” about the action. Well, Mayor Hancock and DPD, if you are “pissed off” about a gallon or so of red paint on a memorial, why are you not “pissed off” about the gallons, and gallons, and gallons of innocent blood that your officers have and continue to spill on our streets.

The paint, that was washed off the memorial directly after the protest, has so upset the police community that the nearly impenetrable Blue Wall that has consistently protected the DPD may finally be crumbling. This is remarkable in a time where the Blue Wall is so strong, that a municipal bill is now having to be considered by Denver City council to force Denver Police and Sheriff’s office to provide the information they have been holding back from the Independent Monitor.

The Denver Police Union is now calling for Chief White’s resignation for allowing the protesters to carry out the symbolic direct action, stating, “Let us be blunt, in light of what you all allowed, supported and justified this weekend, you are a disgrace to the uniform and the badge pinned upon your chest. You display none of the characteristics of what the Denver Police badge represents,”

Some of those characteristics seem to be defined in a statement by Sgt. John Bronson, a police protective association board member after the protest. "What it amounts to is if we're not willing to protect our own memorial and our public interest, what does that say to business owners and others?", "Are we going to allow people to go down the 16th Street Mall and break anything they want?"

Sgt. Bronson’s statements clearly demonstrates that the Denver Police Department does not understand that their duty is first and foremost to protect the safety, rights and lives of the people of Denver, not the interests of downtown businesses and tourism on the Sixteenth Street Mall.

Until law enforcement , and the powers that control them understand what we are saying, innocent fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, ants, uncles, children and grandchildren will continue to be needlessly intimidated, beaten, shot and killed in our communities. The overall message of the great many recent protests and direct actions, both locally and nationally has been very clear.

Black lives matter! Brown lives matter! Queer lives Matter! All Lives Matter!

With this response to a little red paint DPD and the law enforcement community are sadly, but clearly stating,

“Only Blue Lives Matter.”
Regarding the call for flowers at the memorial, it's being organized in part via this Facebook page. Police supporters are encouraged to bring flowers between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today. The page's introduction reads: "Please come and show your support for he Denver Police Memorial and the memories of our fallen HEROS. Bring flowers to place around and surround the memorial. Our goal should be to fill the entire plaza!! PLEASE SHARE THIS EVENT TO ALL YOU KNOW IN THE AREA!!! GOD BLESS OUR FALLEN HEROS!!!"
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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