DENVER (CBS4)– Police in Denver suited up in riot gear and used tear gas on crowds during protests at the City and County Building and the state Capitol on Friday night in a second night of demonstrations that turned violent. The protests on Thursday night left bullet holes in the state Capitol along with other damage along the protest route.
Hundreds of people gathered at the City and County Building on Friday night after a day of protests throughout the streets of downtown Denver.
The second day of protests was more organized and had more participants.
Police tweeted out a thank you to the demonstrators for their peaceful protest on Friday afternoon. That all changed a few hours later.
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) May 29, 2020
The protests appeared to be controlled until about 8 p.m. when officers started using flash bangs and tear gas to disperse the crowd after some had reportedly started throwing rocks and water bottles at officers.
A haze of smoke hung over the Civic Center Station and City and County Building several minutes after the tear gas had been deployed.
The crowd continued to move throughout downtown Denver, eventually moving to the state Capitol lawn where officers tried to keep people from congregating there, flooding the area with tear gas.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock talked about the peaceful protests that turned violent with CBS4, expressing concern for those involved.
“Obviously if I had a bull horn I’d tell everybody to go home. For their own safety, for the safety of everyone else and for the safety of our law enforcement. Go home. There’s nothing being accomplished here,” said Hancock.
Hancock believes that the hundreds of protesters who marched in the streets of downtown Denver on Friday afternoon were infiltrated by those who wanted to create chaos.
“As the night grew near, you could see the change over in the crowd and people brought weapons, they brought things to hurl at the officers, flash bangs, bottles, rocks, the police confiscated two guns,” said Hancock.
Hancock also talked about how important it is to allow people to demonstrate and that it is possible to collaborate with police to maintain a safe event, “The mission is to keep everyone safe and to allow demonstrators to exercise their First Amendment rights, that is important to us. It’s really not a difficult conversation. Not only am I a native, Chief Pazen is a native, born and raised in this city. Many in the police department have been born and raised in this city, so a lot of love and passion for this city that call this city home, they want this to go well. Those officers have been just as impacted by what we witnessed in Minneapolis, the murder of George Floyd, as you and I were. They want people to demonstrate, we want them to do it peacefully.”
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen also talked to CBS4 about the second night of protests in downtown Denver. He echoed much of what Hancock mentioned.
“My heart aches just like many Denverites and Coloradans. This is not what we believe in. This is not what we value. We can do better than this, and we’re hopeful that in the future we can have peaceful protests just like we had earlier today. Successful protests where people were able to get their message out and we were able to facilitate traffic control for those types of protests,” said Pazen.
It is unclear how many people Denver police arrested on Friday night. Those who threw rocks and water bottles at officers or others in the crowd could face charges if caught, as well as those who caused property damage.
Thirteen people were arrested in downtown Denver during Thursday night’s protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said the charges of those arrested range from burglary to criminal mischief to assault.
Three officers were also injured on Thursday night, and one had to go to the hospital. That officer’s injuries are not life threatening.