DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says he supports the police chief’s actions following the vandalism of a fallen officers memorial, even as the police union is calling for his resignation.
The action taken by the police administration was to let the vandals do their work and then make the arrests, rather than prevent it from happening. Hancock spoke out about the flap on Monday.
“When I heard what had happened I was pissed off,” Hancock said.
If the mayor was mad, so too was the police union — and not just at the protesters who doused the memorial in red paint, but at Chief Robert White for his policy of restraint.
“I support Chief White and I support his command staff’s decision to stand down and not put police officers in harm’s way,” Hancock said.
It began as one of the many protests against police use of lethal force, both locally and nationally. It ended with red paint poured on the fallen officers memorial. The police were under orders not to interfere until after the damage had been done.
Nearly immediately following the vandalism, police union president Nick Rogers in an interview with CBS4 questioned the decision not to stop the protesters from defacing the memorial.
“The mayor chose citizens over the police, period. The mayor chose, he made a decision, and I never will be able to respect him for that again,” Rogers said.
The wall contains names such as Celena Hollis, a Denver officer shot to death in City Park in gang crossfire; Bruce Vanderjagt, killed in a shootout with a white supremacist; and officer Shawn Leinen, who was shot in the head by a youth in a foot chase. They are just some of the nearly 70 who died in the line of duty.
Matthew Goldberg, 23, and Robert Guerrero, 25, have been charged with criminal mischief-vandalism for allegedly throwing paint on the memorial. They bonded out of custody on Sunday.
“We’ll handle those who decide to break the law and hold them accountable,” Hancock said.
The Fraternal Order of Police is now backing the Police Protective Association in its call for White to resign.
A grass roots campaign is calling on people to bring flowers and place them by the memorial located in front of the Denver Police Department headquarters located 1331 Cherokee Street.