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Why Black Lives Matter March You Saw Might Not Be a Black Lives Matter March

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On Saturday, July 16, I was heading to Angelo's CDS & More on East Colfax in search of vinyl 45s for my jukebox when I heard chanting.

"Black lives matter! Black lives matter!"

Moments later, I found myself in the middle of well over 100 people moving down Colfax, many of them holding signs that used or referenced the "black lives matter" phrase.

Naturally, I assumed I'd just witnessed a Black Lives Matter rally — and I feel confident that many of the bystanders cheering the demonstration as it passed by did so as well.

But we were wrong.

Turns out the get-together was actually part of the Colorado Peace Rally, organized by the Colorado High School Democrats. Participants met at the MLK statue in City Park and marched to the State Capitol to listen to speakers who included Representative Joe Salazar

Such confusion isn't unprecedented. The previous weekend, an organization called Denver Stand UP held an anti-police-brutality demonstration in downtown Denver at the same time Black Lives Matter 5280 was in the midst of a vigil lasting 135 hours — one hour for each black person killed by police over the past year.

Black Lives Matter 5280 publicly distanced itself from Denver Stand UP's event, posting online that "we do not support this action." But the "Black Lives Matter" chant notwithstanding, it's hard to see the Colorado Peace Rally as problematic, especially given the proliferation of absurd and unfair accusations that protesters are somehow complicit in the shocking police assassinations in Dallas and Baton Rouge simply for demonstrating against officer-involved shootings that have victimized people of color.

After all, the rally I witnessed was diverse in every respect — ethnicity, gender, age, etc. — and did a good job of channeling rage and anger into a call for change. Moreover, the Denver Police Department's security during the march was responsible, professional and unobtrusive.

Which explains why the Colorado Peace Rally got considerably less media coverage than a gathering yesterday at Civic Center Park, where a pro-police group calling for support of law enforcement after Dallas and Baton Rouge clashed with protesters claiming that "Blue Lives Murder." Positivity may be preferable in the greater scheme of things, but it's not nearly as grabby as conflict.

Look below to see photos of the Colorado Peace Rally.

Continue to see more photos from Saturday's Colorado Peace Rally.

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