AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman made it clear he was upset about the damage done to the courthouse Saturday night, tweeting “Aurora cannot become Portland.” Coffman expressed concern there would be more protests and more destruction because police didn’t “adequately” protect the courthouse.
Mayor Coffman said he went to the Aurora Municipal Center Sunday to survey the damage done after protests over the death of Elijah McClain turned violent.
“I came this morning to survey the damage pretty early and went inside the courthouse and just saw just unbelievable damage,” Coffman said.
“[After] the protest was over about 150 stayed behind. Those who remained sought to bait the police into a confrontation and to destroy as much public property as possible,” Coffman tweeted. “Make no mistake about it the ones who remained behind were not protesters but simply using the protest as a cover for their violent actions.”
Coffman said the vandals smashed through all but one window on the south side of the courthouse.
“I understand that our police department chose to show restraint last night… using non lethal munitions. But now these individuals smell weakness. My concern is that they will be back again and again until they achieve their goal.”
Coffman said he is requesting a briefing on the incident by the interim chief of police.
“I will be asking why our court house was not adequately defended,” Coffman stated.
“My question to them is can we do better is it possible to do better and adjust that balance,” Coffman stated. “Where we are not putting officers at risk, and we are not facilitating a confrontation, but that we are protecting our courthouse and other buildings here.”
“Aurora is not Portland. Aurora, under my watch, is not going to become a Portland,” Coffman told CBS4 reporter Karen Morfitt. “And so what do we have to do to deal with this?”
City Council Member David Gruber was also on site Sunday morning to see the damage first hand.
He believes there are the people protesting for justice for McClain and then he believes there are others simply looking for confrontation.
“You could see the weapons they were carrying and you could see they were there to do the damage in this case the police stood back.” Gruber said.
And that, he says, will cost the city.
“It’s a tough time for the city we are looking at a $25 million deficit this year and $30 million next year, so this will all come out of city programs and we don’t know what those programs are yet,” he said.