DENVER (CBS4)– Repairs to the Colorado State Capitol began Monday after weeks of protests and demonstrations. Broken windows, graffiti and vandalism are among the damage to the building, the surrounding buildings in the complex, as well as to the surrounding parks and monuments.
The plan to make repairs and cleanup has been revised several times as the damage worsened over the weeks. The cost to make the repairs is now expected to top $1 million and change as the cleanup continues.
Crews are experimenting with different chemicals and lasers to remove the graffiti. They are washing away the words of anger — messages to a system some believe is broken. But those who work in the Capitol to debate and compromise may see it differently.
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting,” said State Rep. Rod Bockenfeld of Watkins, adding he feels it’s about time. “It’s been a little slow in getting cleaned up, don’t know why. It’s almost an endorsement allowing it to happen.”
He insists the Capitol should have been protected better by the Colorado State Patrol, which oversees the security for the building and the premises.
Doug Platt is with the state agency overseeing the cleanup and told CBS4 he hasn’t just been sitting on his heels.
“It’s not that we’ve been waiting and doing nothing,” he said. “We’ve been working on a plan to address all the damage since the riots first started at the end of May.”
The granite walls are covered in graffiti, windows and lights have been shattered, and monuments and memorials surrounding the building have been defaced or destroyed. The vandals have returned, night after night, to cause more damage.
A fence was finally erected around the state Capitol to protect workers during the cleanup — not to keep vandals out, but for OSHA workplace requirements.
As people passed by on Monday, CBS4 got different points of view on the graffiti.
“The people here are pretty angry. They understand they have been discriminated against for quite a while. It’s a public property, I don’t see any problem with it,” said Tony McLean.
Jesse Sanchez looked at the building with a different opinion, “It’s destroyed, it’s destroyed, just not a pretty sight.”
Now the effort to erase the graffiti matches the words someone painted on the west side: By any means necessary.
A Civil War statue in front of the Capitol was toppled last month, and two cannons were removed from the grounds after that vandalism. The monument was designed to commemorate Colorado’s role in the Civil War on the Union side, but some people were concerned about the fact that listed among the involvements of the soldiers was the Sand Creek Massacre.
Funding for the repairs is coming from several sources, including an emergency fund maintained by the Office of the State Architect. That amount for $245,000 was made available last month, and Risk Management Property Fund funds for $525,000 were recently made available last week. Additional costs up to $1 million will also be covered by the State’s Risk Management Property Fund.
The cleanup and repairs are expected to continue through the winter months.