Denver's Civic Center will live up to its name today, with several civic demonstrations set for the park, from protests over police brutality to a satire of the mayor's State of the City speech.
Black Lives Matter 5280 started a 135-hour vigil — to honor the 135 black people killed by police over the past year — outside the Denver City & County Building last Thursday night. This morning the demonstrators will mark their hundredth hour, with a day and a half to go. "During the past four days," the organizers posted on Facebook yesterday, "we have created a space for Black people to grieve, love one another, and connect with people of color who are mourning those gunned down by police violence. It was important to us that we create this space for healing in the shadow of the very institutions that perpetuate this violence, and have failed to bring justice to our communities. We wanted to counter the forces of these oppressive structures with a fierce energy of love and resistance. We understand that our actions — just existing in a park in Denver for 135 hours — push the boundaries of the law."
At noon today, another demonstration protesting police brutality is set for Civic Center — but Black Lives Matter 5280 disavows any connection to this one. "Like many of the local organizers we know in Denver," Black Lives Matter 5280 warns in a post, "we have reached out to this group to find out who they are and what their plan is for an event that has drawn a lot of community attention. This group has refused to respond to many inquiries, and be transparent about the plan. They are not connected to any local organizing body we can identify, and none that we trust. We don't know what their intentions are. Subsequently, we do not support this action."
The noon demonstration is in fact planned by Denver Stand UP, which announced it last week. Here's the Facebook announcement:
In recognition of the recent events we wanted to put together a protest/demonstration against police brutality downtown in Denver to support unity and to demand justice. We need to put pressure on our government to put something into place that will stop this madness and hold these officers accountable for their actions. It has happened in Denver and continues to happen all around the US, publicized and no justice served. We need to show that we are the MAJORITY and no longer a minority. Make them hear us. Force them to take in everything that we stand for. We don't want any issues & we are not promoting violence in any way but we need to demand change and put some heat on our own city officials! Protect our black brothers, our black fathers, our latino brothers, anyone that a cop may feel threatened by and just decide to shoot. Speak out! A facebook post won't change anything. We have to SHOW UP! 1 Love Denver. Our Lives Matter.
Emphasis on peace. This is in no way shape or form an anti-police or anti-white gathering, so please do not attend if you have those views.
"The time frame was chosen because Monday is a very busy business day," Denver Stand UP explains. But in fact, most city officials will be out of the area at the time, because Mayor Michael Hancock is delivering his annual State of the City speech at Denver International Airport at 11 a.m. And before that, at 9:45 a.m. this morning, religious leaders from Together Colorado will join Hancock at the Westin at DIA, and "urge him to take a stronger stance on police violence in our city and create a plan to create a healthy community between police and the people they serve."
The mayor's State of the City speech has inspired the third protest set for Civic Center Park today. At 3 p.m. Denver Homeless Out Loud and other groups will host The People's State of the City in front of the City & County Building. "Community organizations are holding this counter-event to highlight pressing issues that the Mayor’s speech will likely fail to address," the announcement notes. "Indeed, the Mayor’s administration is responsible for directing and supporting many of the injustices and harms our communities face." Here's more:
The demonstration will be followed by the first open public hearing before the Denver City Council meeting; interested speakers must sign up by 4:30 p.m. Find out more here.
What is the state of the city as the people know it?
Homelessness is rising and the city only treats homeless people with more brutality and force. Camping Ban enforcement is up 500% since march in attempts by the Mayor to “sweep” homelessness away.
Housing costs have skyrocketed with rent at an all time high for the city of Denver making more and more people homeless. But instead of dedicating funds or changing policies to support attainable homes the city continues to spend far more on the jail system than on low-income of affordable housing.
People of color continue to be targeted and killed by cops, who act with impunity, fearing neither indictment nor conviction for their crimes.
Low income and immigrant workers are still vulnerable to wage theft, racism, and have no, almost no, or adequate access to basic services such as medical and mental health and housing.
Immigrant families continue to fight for their right to stay together, defending their communities from the detention and deportation resulting from local police colluding with Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers, destroying trust and causing undue stress on children.
People with disabilities continue to be blighted with increased homelessness, poverty, and the feeling of being left behind. As the economy gets better for some, those with fixed, low or no incomes are left behind. People with disabilities need to survive but we also need and deserve the tools to thrive.
Our environment is being destroyed. When we as a city do environmental sustainability, we must reject the notion that there is solely a material or technocratic solution to environmental crisis.
It is the people living in Denver under these conditions, together working to make life better for all who live here in spite of struggle and oppression, that have and will continue to create what is good and needed in this city. Together we will continue to fight for a Denver where people can live with homes, dignity, rights, health, and all good and needed things.
And although none of the Healing as One events that started Saturday are scheduled for Civic Center, the Mayor's Office has listed these gatherings set for today:
CrossPurpose Community Center
2959 Franklin Street
6 to 7:30 p.m.
Denver Community Church
1595 Pearl Street
Noon to 1 p.m.
9495 East Florida Avenue
6 to 9 a.m.
Noon to 2 p.m.
3440 West Louisiana Avenue
5 to 6 p.m.
Find out more at denvergov.org.