DENVER (CBS4) – Murphy Robinson, 31, was named Denver’s Manager of Safety in late May in the midst of a pandemic, followed by riots that have left the lifelong Denver resident devastated.

“I sat in this office the other day,” said Robinson. “Where I shed tears because this is not the city I recognize when it comes to the vandalism and destruction that’s occurred. It hurts my heart, it hurts me deeply to where this is, where we are at.”

(credit: CBS)

In a one-on one interview with CBS4, Robinson revealed that during the protests, he handed out water to protesters because he wanted to let them know they were supported. He has also spent time on the other side, with Denver police officers on the front lines. He said he donned a helmet and mask and was glad he did.

”When I was on the line I was hit by a rock, and bricks were thrown at me.” He said the rock hit him in the leg causing substantial pain.

Robinson, a former police officer himself, said he wanted to see what Denver officers were going through and how they were dealing with the volatile situation. He said he has never seen anything like what he has observed over the last week, and called the unlawful activity “despicable.”

CBS4’s Brian Maass interviews Murphy Robinson. (credit: CBS)

“The level of violence and destruction that we’ve seen in the last five days is unacceptable,” he said. The new Manager of Safety said he has seen complaints on social media and from text messages regarding how Denver police have dealt with the violence. He says complaints will be reviewed and investigated, but from his point of view, the vast majority of DPD conduct has been professional and above board.

”When I was out in the field, every action I saw was appropriate.” He said police only escalated their responses when violence from rioters had escalated. But he emphasized what he saw was extremely limited.

Ultimately, he said, the picture is larger than the street skirmishes that have dominated the news.

“The conversation should be how to make sure George Floyd doesn’t happen here.”

Robinson, who is half Panamanian and half African-American, says he understands the frustration that has boiled over on the streets.

“I experienced a lot of racism in my life,” he said.

He recounted how, as a 5th grader, he had a racist teacher.

“She told the kids I was black, and they shouldn’t play with me. People did things to me that no child should have to go through, because of the color of my skin.”

He said the discrimination continued in high school.

Murphy Robinson (credit: CBS)

“I mean my first day of school in high school, a little kid came up to me and told me ‘my parents told me not to play with your kind,’ and this was my first day of high school.”

He said he had to seek counseling while in college to address the racism he experienced as a child.

Even this week, when he and his wife celebrated their six year wedding anniversary in a suburban park with a picnic, “The first conversation we had is, ‘Should we be at this park?’ or ‘You think we’re going to have some problems because of the color of our skin?'”

He said those personal experiences, combined with what has happened in Denver over the last week, show deep racial divides that need to be bridged.

“I want to get to a place where we don’t have this conversation,” said Robinson.

Brian Maass

Comments (3)
  1. Deplorable says:

    The Gov and Mayor allow it.

  2. Mary says:

    I’m not defending those who are behaving violently during these protests, but perhaps this man needs to be reminded that both Broncos “fans” and Avalanche “fans” have rioted in downtown Denver after both Super Bowl and Stanley Cup wins. In fact, according to “Here are five American cities which rioted after sporting success and defeat” dated Feb 5, 2018 in the section “Denver – 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001”:
    “The Mile High city’s worst ever riot happened after NFL team Broncos won their first Super Bowl in January 1998, when over 10,000 fans went on a rampage.

    Drunken fans overturned cars, looted and vandalised buildings in the city. Damages ran into millions of dollars. A year later after another victory 1,000 Broncos fans rioted in a smaller scale disturbance.

    Icy (sic) Hockey fans also rioted when The Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup in 1996 and again in 2001 when they won their second when 63 fans were arrested.”

    Apparently the Broncos fans were somewhat more sedate after the team won Super Bowl 50 in 2016 – only TWELVE were arrested as compared with the 25 arrested in 1999 (See “Mostly peaceful crowds celebrate SB50 in Denver” dated Feb 08, 2016).

    1. Jay Alenby says:

      The comparison is wrong and irrelevant. You are not remembering correctly. Those riots were much smaller, damaged much less property and lasted a few hours. Furthermore the police arrested those who were breaking the law. These riots are now in their 5th day and innocent people and businesses are being negatively impacted with no consequences to the perpetrators.

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