DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Mayor Michael Hancock talked about last week’s 4/20 festival in which dozens were arrested, shots were fired and trash was left strewn across Civic Center Park, raised some security concerns. He said the aftermath of that festival could result in changes to policy for all events in the future.
“When you hold events at one of these spaces, we all have the responsibility to uphold the public trust, and when you leave one of our parks trashed, you violate that trust,” said Hancock. “We experienced an event that was under-resourced and presented numerous safety hazards.”
Water bottles, smashed food, and other nasty garbage littered the park lawn and pavement the morning after the event.
“We are gathering information on what occurred and will address any violations that we identify,” said Hancock. “That could include any changes in our permitting policies or proposals to city council in terms or ordinances. It could also include penalties to the organizers of this event for violations.”
Hancock joined Denver Police Chief Robert White and other city leaders on Monday morning to discuss the review of the event and violations that occurred during the annual festival that takes place on April 20.
“When I look out that office at the 4/20 event, any year, and I see the plume… that bothers me. Because at the end of the day, the city must be seen as the guardians of our treasured spaces, but also the law,” said Hancock. “We don’t want to put our officers in an unsafe situation, we don’t want to put our citizens… in an unsafe situation.”
“Our primary concern is security as it relates to this past event. From our perspective, there wasn’t enough security, security was compromised, some people bum-rushed the fences and some individuals got in without adequately searched that could have resulted in a serious problem, fortunately that didn’t happen,” said Denver Police Chief Robert White. “We did make 48 arrests, most of them were for citations for smoke and marijuana.”
The majority of those arrests were “site release” in which they were cited for a civil offense, not a criminal offense.
“I have ordered a thorough review of the event of this past week and our permit requirements and enforcement to ensure that this type of disrespect of Civic Center Park or any of our public spaces does not happen again in the future,” said Hancock.
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“There were some serious issues as relates to security,” said White.
Organizers said the trash had been cleaned up after the event, and that someone had then dumped out close to 80 bags of garbage overnight.
“The safety of all people, attending the event, outside of the event, is first and foremost. And when those sort of things happen, we have to have a zero tolerance for it,” said Hancock.
“We have a new set of event rules that apply to all, and we think there are a number of instances where there were violations of that and there will be consequences if we determine there were violations,” said Deputy Director of Denver Parks and Recreation Allegra “Happy” Haynes.
“This is about taking a look back at what’s occurred, where we’re going in the future, what we want to see these events look like in the context of our downtown and our city and the work life in the city… our tourists, the people who enjoy these spaces and make a determination on how we want to make sure our regulations speak to the kind of outcomes we all should desire in these types of events,” said Hancock.
Hancock said although the 4/20 festival has been going on for several years, it’s gotten bigger since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado. It is still illegal to consume marijuana in public.
“Our parks are here for everyone to enjoy,” said Hancock. “What we saw at Civic Center Park was unacceptable.”