DENVER (CBS4) — Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen praised the way his officers handled protesters near the Colorado Capitol Thursday night, saying they demonstrated “extreme restraint.”

Police Protest In Downtown Denver

(credit: Evan Semón )

Chief Pazen said Denver police were there to protect the rights of peaceful protesters and demonstrated their support for the community’s right to be heard.

“However, last night, when the protest crossed over into destructive dangerous and criminal behavior that is no longer acceptable, and it requires law enforcement intervention,” Pazen stated.

“I also want to commend the women and men of the Denver police department who demonstrated extreme restraint last night, as they became the target of people’s rage and anger. They performed in an exemplary manner in order to control a very disruptive and dangerous situation, a situation that put the lives of our residents lives of the people of Denver in danger,” the chief said.

Pazen pointed out that officers had to deal with protesters who were blocking Interstate 25.

“As you can imagine, this is very dangerous. It’s very dangerous for our protesters. To access the highway, where we have vehicles traveling at high rates of speed. It’s dangerous for the protesters and it’s dangerous for our community that is not expecting pedestrians to be on the highway,” he said.

A witness tweeted video of dozens of people blocking one side of the highway as cars speed by on the other.

“Officers were able to quickly engage with these protesters who were on both lanes, north and southbound 25, and get the highway cleared.”

Pazen said dangerous situations throughout the night were caused “primarily by a few agitators within the group that were throwing rocks, setting fires and causing damage.”

(credit: CBS)

“In response, our officers deployed less lethal weapons as a means to disperse the crowd,” Pazen said.

Three officers were hurt during the protests — one was hit in the head with a rock and required treatment at the hospital.

Thirteen people were arrested.

(credit: Evan Semón )

“Our officers showed great restraint throughout the evening, and only took action when dangerous situations occurred,” Pazen stated.

For complete coverage of the protests in Minneapolis over the police killing of George Floyd visit CBSMinnesota.com and stream CBSN Minnesota.

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