AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Aurora’s Police Chief defended his department’s choice to not intervene when some people overtook a protest of planned immigration raids Friday night. It all happened outside of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Aurora.
The demonstrations happened before planned ICE raids in Denver and 10 other cities nationwide.
The event was mostly peaceful, but eventually some protesters went past a barrier of cones connected by chains and walked on to the facility’s property.
There, some protesters took down an American flag and replaced it with a Mexican flag. They also spray pained “Abolish ICE” on a Blue Lives Matter flag and hung it upside down.
“We were ready to act in the event that anybody did anything that was assaultive in any way, or in any way that we felt they were creating any kind of property damage we felt would risk the security of the facility,” Aurora Police Chief Nicholas Metz said, explaining why officers didn’t intervene.
Metz said his department didn’t jump into action for fear of escalating the situation.
“It never reached that threshold so we continued to monitor it as close as we could, but I think we made the right decision in that we know, had we moved in like that, the likelihood of people getting injured would have been high,” Metz said.
The event was originally planned as a candlelight vigil in anticipation of weekend ICE raids. Organizers called off the event due to safety concerns.
“It’s really disappointing that a small group of people basically ripped away the mic from our community members,” said Cristian Solano-Cordova, Communications Manager of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
“Instead of talking about that, we’re talking about these idiots changing a flag. That action doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t protect anyone. In fact, it just put in danger the communities they claim they want to protect.”
Solano-Cordova said most people at the event demonstrated the right way, but early on it became clear some protesters had different plans.
“I’m just really disappointed in these people who think they are helping our community, when in fact they’re attacking our community and inadvertently sabotaging the work we’ve been doing for years,” he said.
Metz said members of his department met with people at the ICE facility several weeks ago and suggested a more substantial barrier to prevent protesters coming on the property. He said advice was not taken.
The Aurora Police Department is asking for any video the public has of the events Friday night. Investigators are looking to identify and pursue prosecution of those involved in criminal behavior. Videos can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.