By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Residents in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Denver say they are concerned about their safety just days before a presidential inauguration which has put state capitols on alert across the country. Those who live and work close to the Colorado State Capitol say they’ve already seen suspicious behavior, but also feel more prepared for any demonstrations that may turn violent.

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“It doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t feel safe,” said Annie Arevalo, a Capitol Hill resident who has lived near the Capitol for three years.

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She respects the right of anyone to protest and says she was glad to see the demonstrations last summer related to Black Lives Matter, but worries about some of the interactions near her home recently.

“The last couple of weeks we’ve had some unrest going on, and there’s some trucks that just come in with their flags, and we know they don’t live in our neighborhood,” she told CBS4 on Saturday. “They just run around and harass people basically. We’ve been yelled at, we’ve been cut off.”

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The Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods group is a Denver registered neighborhood organization with around 1,000 active members. It represents around 100,000 people who fall under their boundaries within the city. Leaders with the nonprofit say the past year has not only prepared local government and law enforcement, but also their residents.

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“Cap Hill has experienced a lot in the last 12 months or so, and we’re remaining vigilant and what might unfold on Inauguration Day,” said Travis Leiker, the president of the organization.

CHUN works with Denver Police and the city council members representing Capitol Hill to coordinate best practices for alerting authorities of any safety concerns and sharing important messages about their community.

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“I think the city learned a lot in terms of how they deliver on their services and their security,” he said Saturday. “It is the heartbeat of democratic principles within our boundaries and for that we’re extremely proud.”

The Capitol is a symbol of democracy and residents say it represents the rights of citizens to express their opinions. They take pride in living in the neighborhood that hosts protests and demonstrations, but they hope it remains a place for peaceful acts of free speech.

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“I like the way that changed Cap Hill. It was a little sleepy before that, and I like the idea that we’re not going to let this go on anymore,” Arevalo said.

Shawn Chitnis