AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of protesters dispersed peacefully after a night of tense protests in Aurora. They gathered outside of the Aurora Police Department’s District 1 Police Station in response to the death of Elijah McClain and recent discliplinary action against four police officers involved in an inappropriate photo.
One of those officers, Jason Rosenblatt, was one of the officers involved in the death of McClain last August. Protesters demanded the remaining two officers involved also be fired.
Aurora police say one person was arrested for charges of obstructing a highway/passageway and failure to obey. Police issued a citation for one other person for obstructing a peace officer and failure to obey.
Police added that no tear gas, pepper spray nor any chemical agent were deployed during the protests on Friday night that lasted into Saturday morning at Aurora Police District 1.
Officers fired at least five 40mm less lethal foam rounds after they say protesters shot a mortar-style firework toward them. It’s not clear if any officers were hurt.
At one point during the protests, Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson spoke with the rally’s leader over the phone. Wilson told her her hands were tied, and she could not fire the officers.
“I know everyone is angry, and I get it,” Wilson said while on speakerphone. “I do not have the power to fire these officers.”
The crowd responded by yelling “Liar! Liar!”
The chief cited several ongoing investigations into McClains’ death as part of her reason for not being able to fire those officers.
Late Friday night, Aurora police contacted the protesters on Twitter telling them they were blocking access to the building, which prevented police from going out on calls and asked them to peacefully move.
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman was called to come to police headquarters to help decide whether to involve state resources. Coffman explained his reasoning to not do so, and explained the plan city officials used to deescalate the situation.
— Mayor Mike Coffman (@AuroraMayorMike) July 4, 2020
“At around 2:30 a.m., a plan was put in place to take back the facility and it was successfully executed within an hour. The plan ultimately pushed the protesters back to the south side of Montview Boulevard,” he stated Saturday morning. “The operational shut down of the facility was not without an immediate cost to public safety because it serves an area of Aurora with the highest violent crime rate and not only were police, who were supposed to be deployed in the area prevented from doing so but an entire shift, who could not enter the facility, could also not be deployed because their uniforms, weapons and equipment was stored inside the facility.”
A line of officers in riot gear then moved in front of the police station. They threatened arrests and the use of chemical agents if people did not move.
The protesters complied and went to another area nearby, but did not stop the protest for several more hours.
Saturday morning, cleaning crews were on site spraying to remove any graffiti left behind.