AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The Aurora Police Department issued guidance ahead of a rally planned on Saturday outside the city’s municipal center. Organizers of the rally are calling for justice for the family of Elijah McClain.
Aurora police stopped McClain in August 2019 while responding to a report of a suspicious person. McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, was restrained by police before paramedics administered a dose of 500 mg of ketamine. McClain went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and later died at the hospital.
Protesters are calling on Aurora police to fire the two officers who arrested Elijah McClain who still remain on the job. There are also calls for accountability from Aurora Fire, who administered ketamine to McClain, and Falck Rocky Mountain ambulance services, which provided the sedative.
APD says they value the protesters’ free speech, but added that “fighting words” that provoke a violent reaction are not protected by the First Amendment.
“Having a peaceful demonstration is most meaningful when everyone chooses to be respectful, law-abiding, and civil,” stated APD. “It’s equally important to realize everyone has a right to lawfully assemble, and Colorado law prohibits disrupting a lawful assembly.”
On Saturday, APD is closing all buildings on the Aurora Municipal Center Campus. At a last resort, the department said they may order the crowd to disperse. Officers said this will only happen if there is an immediate threat to safety.
During a protest at the Aurora Municipal Center in June, police used pepper spray on protesters and arrested three people. The police tweeted that a “small contingent” of protesters were “arming themselves” with sticks and rocks, and ignoring orders to move back.
— Dillon Thomas (@DillonMThomas) June 28, 2020
Sticks, poles, pipes, bats and drones are not permitted at the rally. Sticks being used as supports for signs, posters, banners or flags may only be permitted under all of the following conditions:
- They are attached and remain attached to a sign, poster, banner or flag at all times.
- They are made of wood. No metal, PVC, glass, or other material allowed for sign supports.
- They are 40″ or less in length.
- They are blunt on each end. No sharp supports are allowed.
Officers also warned against excessive noise, including bullhorns and noisemakers. APD says violations of these rules are grounds to deny access or remove protesters. The department says protesters who refuse to leave will be trespassing.
APD is asking protesters to be aware of their surroundings during Saturday’s and report any safety concerns to dispatch at 303-627-3100. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.
In a unanimous vote Monday night, Aurora City Council adopted a resolution calling for an independent investigation into Elijah McClain‘s death. Jonathan Smith of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was selected to lead the investigation.
The investigation will review policies including calls for service, police contact with individuals, use of force, calls for medical assistance, ketamine use, and administrative incident reviews.
In addition to the independent investigation, Governor Jared Polis has appointed the Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser as a Special Prosecutor to examine the case. The Department of Justice is also reviewing the case for a possible civil rights investigation.
The three officers involved in McClain’s death were removed from patrol duty in June. They have not been charged.
One of the officers, Jason Rosenblatt, was fired over his response to a photo text message, in which three APD officers posed for a picture reenacting the carotid restraint used on McClain. The three fired officers have appealed their terminations.