AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson has responded to an Adams County judge who last month dismissed kidnapping charges against protestors who surrounded a police precinct. Wilson wrote to her officers, “Stay vigilant as this ruling may embolden those who want to harm us.”
Wilson’s pointed two-page letter to officers, sent March 25, followed a ruling by Adams County Judge Leroy Kirby who dismissed felony attempted kidnapping charges against three protest leaders who were arrested in connection with an Elijah McClain protest last July. The three protest leaders were charged with attempted kidnapping, inciting a riot and other charges stemming from the July 2020 demonstration which was held outside the District 1 police station.
But Kirby dismissed the most serious charge, attempted kidnapping, at a preliminary hearing.
Hours later, Wilson emailed her colleagues, “During this time, we were surrounded and outnumbered. Some of the individuals were carrying long guns. The vehicle gates were tied closed. The doors were barricaded.”
Wilson said 18 officers were inside the police precinct.
“They (the protestors) proclaimed that ‘those pigs aren’t going anywhere’ and encouraged our officers to commit suicide,” wrote Wilson. “The agitators who committed these acts, calling for an occupation of District 1 and holding our team hostage, were not carrying out peaceful First Amendment demonstration. To say that I am completely disappointed in the judge’s decision is an understatement.”
Wilson wrote that while she understands and recognizes the anger and pain over the death of Elijah McClain, she said what happened at District 1 was “unacceptable. We could not simply abandon our building and allow the protestors access to more weapons, evidence or sensitive police documents.”
The chief said the intentions of the protestors were clear: “takeover and imprisonment.”
She said her department responded appropriately by not escalating the incident “and yet it appears that we will not get any justice from that evening, and for that I am truly sorry.”
Attorneys for the defendants in the case said their clients were engaged in political speech, protected by the First Amendment.