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Polis calls for peace as Denver protests of George Floyd killing turn violent

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May 29, 2020, 8:17 am

Colorado Gov, Jared Polis Thursday night said “senseless violence will never be healed by more violence” in response to protests at the state capitol in Denver over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on May 25.

George Floyd

“Tonight is a very sad night for our state,” Polis wrote in an official statement released Thursday night, May 28, after violent protests erupted in Denver, with shots fired near the state capitol. “While we are still uncovering all of the facts about what took place, a protest regarding the killing of George Floyd devolved into vandalism and violence, and I was absolutely shocked by video evidence of a motorist attempting to run over a protestor.”

At one point in downtown Denver a protestor was caught on film jumping onto the hood of a passing SUV, which then swerved toward the protestor after he jumped off the vehicle.

Gov. Jared Polis
Gov. Jared Polis

“Coloradans are better than this,” Polis said. “I share the immense anguish we all feel about the unjust murder of George Floyd. But let me be clear, senseless violence will never be healed by more violence.”

The state legislature was in session during the protests at the capitol.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail tweeted this: “Lots to process and absorb tonight. It is important to acknowledge the anger and outrage and to try, each in our own way, to feel the hurt of a country in pain, demand justice, and find empathy.”

In Minneapolis, protestors overran a police station and set it on fire as President Donald Trump violated Twitter’s rules against glorifying violence, earning a flag from the social media company by calling protestors thugs and writing, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who was in Edwards Thursday volunteering at the Eagle Valley Community Foundation’s Community Market food bank and observing Eagle County’s COVID-19 response, issued this statement on Friday morning:

“We must work together to dismantle systemic racism in our country and hold ourselves accountable to seek justice for black Americans and other victims of racial violence. We owe it to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and their families,” Bennet’s office emailed in a statement Friday morning, referring to two other recent high-profile killings.

“It’s despicable that the President of the United States is inciting violence against the protesters, tweeting ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’” Bennet added.

The four Minneapolis police officers caught on video holding down and kneeling on the neck of the unarmed and handcuffed Floyd for more than seven minutes as he cried out that he could not breathe have all been fired. One former officer, Derek Chauvin, was later charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck till he passed out and died.

Colorado Senate Democrats, including Donovan, on Friday morning issued the following statement about the Denver protests:

“The murder of George Floyd was a senseless, gruesome act of police violence that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The racism and violence that black communities are forced to navigate on a daily basis is abhorrent and must be stopped. We are shocked and heartbroken by the violence that erupted in our city last night and stand in solidarity with those calling for justice. Our duty is to represent the people of Colorado and the best way we can do that right now is by respecting the gravity of this moment. Therefore, in deference tothe demands for police accountability, we will be suspending all legislative work until Monday, June 1. When we return, our priority will continue to be the health, safety, and wellbeing of all Coloradans.”

Polis called for calm and disavowed more violent protests.

“These are extremely difficult times for our state, country, and world,” Polis said. “Now more than ever we need to lift each other up and do right by each other. I ask everyone to make their voice heard peacefully and to turn their anger into advocacy and action — never violence.”

Edwards resident Mikaela Shiffrin, an Olympic gold medalist ski racer, tweeted this on Friday:

“Maybe it’s not my problem …. I’m dealing with so many things right now. Too many things. I can’t bear any more burden. It’s not directly affecting me, so it won’t matter if I don’t stand up, right now…WRONG. Go ahead, tell me I’m an athlete, and that I should stay in my lane ….”

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner tweeted this Friday: “I am heartbroken to see the violence and rioting taking place across the country. We all need to raise our voices in unity and do so peacefully. George Floyd’s murder must be met with resolve for equality and justice. As Americans, we need voices heard and action taken in peaceful settings to catalyze change. And, today, we saw action towards justice in Derek Chauvin’s arrest for murder.”

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who hopes to take on Gardner for his senate seat by winning the Democratic primary on June 30, sent out this statement Friday:

“People have a right to be safe, unafraid, and secure in their communities, and they must have an unalienable right to equal justice under the law. They also have a right to not be victimized in their day to day lives or when they peacefully protest injustice. 

“As a country, we have tolerated systemic racism and a broken criminal justice system for far too long. Today, we need what Dr. King called ‘the fierce urgency of now.’  He said, ‘In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there IS such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy and complacency.’ We must ALL feel the urgency to do our part to address the challenges we face. 

“Whether it’s George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, or the hundreds of thousands whose killings were not caught on video, we must keep seeking justice for their families and loved ones. I hope everyone today, and in the days ahead, stays safe, listens to one another, and asks themselves what they can do to be a part of the solution.”

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