June 2, 2020
DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado has been monitoring the protests happening in Denver as events have unfolded. The following statement can be attributed to Stephen Meswarb, Interim Executive Director at ACLU of Colorado:
“The protests happening all over the country are an outpouring of rage and grief at the endless, relentless examples of unarmed Black people being brutalized and murdered at the hands of police. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are just the latest deaths. Here in Colorado in 2016, Michael Marshall was killed by jail deputies who held him down until he aspirated. In August 2019, Elijah McClain, 23, died after a prolonged encounter with Aurora police officers. That same month, De’Von Bailey, 19, was shot in the back while running away and killed by Colorado Springs Police. ACLU of Colorado is united in solidarity with protestors across the country demanding an end to violent, racist policing.
“It is outrageous that protests demanding justice for police brutality are being met with even greater police brutality. Here in Denver, instead of de-escalating tense situations, police are shooting rubber bullets and pepper balls indiscriminately into peaceful crowds and using tear gas and other chemical irritants to disperse protesters. These aggressive tactics are shameful and dangerously escalate these situations, putting protesters, journalists, bystanders, and police themselves at great risk of injury and death. It is also stunningly irresponsible to use chemical irritants that affect the respiratory system and cause fits of coughing during a highly contagious and lethal pandemic. These actions fly in the face of the public health guidance put forth by Mayor Hancock and Governor Polis.
“We are also alarmed at the increasing militarization of Denver police, and Mayor Hancock’s decision to impose a week-long curfew in Denver and Governor Polis’ decision to call in the Colorado National Guard. This city-wide curfew is an unprecedented and extraordinary measure that poses a risk of selective enforcement in Black and Brown communities.
“We must end the systemic racism at the heart of our police agencies. Police violence and murder in America’s Black communities must stop, and the ACLU commits to fighting until every person killed at the hands of police is delivered justice.
“Now is the time for accountability. We are committed to working with lawmakers and stakeholders from all communities, in every corner of our state, to create and reform systems and policies that tear down the systemic and structural racism that is tearing our country apart. It is not enough to be non-racist, we must be actively anti-racist at every turn.
“As a result of recent events as well as Colorado’s own history of community dying at the hands of law enforcement, we are pleased that state legislators are introducing legislation — The Law Enforcement Integrity and Accountability Act — which we hope will keep all law enforcement accountable to all the people they are entrusted to serve and protect.”
Watch Rep. Leslie Herod and Senate President Leroy Garcia’s press conference on the bill at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tIQrxG90Nc
The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.