Police, Protesters At Odds Over How Weekend Arrests Were Handled
DENVER (CBS4) – Police in Denver say they had to use pepper spray when people interfered with arrests they were trying to make during a weekend protest on the 16th Street Mall.
Six people were arrested on Saturday evening on the mall at the California Street intersection.
One of the protesters shot video of the confrontation between protesters and officers and posted it on YouTube. The video shows that what started as a march by a group called Anonymous quickly turned into a physical fued with Denver officers.
The protest was meant to show objection to police brutality.
Patrick Boyle was one of those who was arrested and spent the night in jail. He told CBS4 on Sunday after he was released that police didn’t like the protesters’ message.
“They don’t like it when protests come out and accuse them of police brutality and police murder and are asking for more police accountability,” he said.
Denver police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Warneke said his department responds to protests like the one on Saturday on a regular basis.
“Where it becomes an issue is when safety becomes a concern,” he said.
Warneke said the protest on Saturday was “dangerous for everybody involved.”
“Protesters went into lanes of traffic, were running up and down in lanes of traffic, against traffic, against the lights,” he said.
The YouTube video shows the protesters marching into traffic at a time when the stoplight was red. Boyle argues a police blockade forced them to change their route.
“We don’t want to pass them because they are standing there with guns and clubs so we try to turn out of their way and then they say that we’re darting into traffic,” Boyle said.
Warneke said his department respects the right for people to stage protests, even when it has to do with them.
“It’s irrelevant what they are protesting. They are free to protest anything they want, including a police department. That’s fine, so long as they are within the confines of what they are supposed to be doing,” he said.
Anonymous has been staging protests since November on the 5th of each month. They said Saturday’s protest had a different twist because they were showing support for demonstrators in Albuquerque who are protesting officer-involved shootings there.
In addition to Boyle, police also arrested Alex Wolf, Daniel Moya, Kenneth White, Michael Long and David Kieres during the incident. Denver police released mug shots of five of those people.
No one was injured during Saturday’s incident.