Second Night of Denver Violence Raises Troubling Questions

UPDATE: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announces an 8:00PM curfew tonight and Sunday to curtail the violence, CBS4 reporting:

A curfew will go into place on Saturday night in Denver at 8 p.m. in order to prevent more damage and violence downtown. The chaos has happened on two successive nights and been part of the protests of the George Floyd death at the hands of police in Minnesota.

“We had hoped that we would not have to take these steps. But the aggressive and dangerous actions taken by some individuals and groups under the cover of darkness has made it necessary,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said on Saturday afternoon…

The Colorado National Guard has been deployed by Gov. Jared Polis to help Denver police “maintain public safety and protect infrastructure and property in the downtown area,” according to Hancock. The city attorney says there could be up to a $999 fine or 300 days in jail for violation of curfew.

Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver says that all sanctioned protest activities will end tonight by 5:00PM.


As Denver7 reports and readers are no doubt aware, yesterday marked another day of nationwide protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, one of whom is now in jail on murder charges. In Denver, the protests began peacefully with a noon march led by Denver school board member and activist Tay Anderson, and speeches later in the afternoon from Anderson, Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver, and a press conference from Mayor Michael Hancock expressed support–all of them urging that the ongoing protests remain peaceful after significant property damage around the state capitol building the previous night.

Unfortunately, despite these commendable efforts by Denver leaders to keep things peaceful, the destruction in downtown Denver this morning is sadly evident:

Clashes between police and protesters continued to escalate through the night, with tear gas creating a billowing cloud of white smoke in the area that could be seen from the air by AIRTRACKER7. Some protesters responded by setting things on fire, including a dumpster and a car, defacing Civic Center Park with graffiti and vandalizing the Colorado Supreme Court building as well as the Denver Public Library.

By midnight, Denver police confirmed the Target store on the 16th St. Mall had been looted by protesters who made off with a few items. No other details were immediately available.

“What we’re seeing is destructive, it’s needless, it’s senseless,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a Zoom interview with Denver7. “It’s unfortunate for everyone in Denver. … the demonstrations started peacefully… unfortunately as the night grew near, we had some folks show up who, quite frankly, meant to disrupt the peace. This is not who we are, and calmer heads must prevail. Our police officers have a sworn duty to maintain everyone’s safety – and they will. People are crying out to be heard, but this violent distraction only divides us.”

Tay Anderson lays the blame without hesitation on “white allies” who attacked Denver police despite the loud and clear exhortation from leaders present at his rally to remain nonviolent:

The context for last night’s second round of violence and property destruction in Denver are new reports coming out of the Twin Cities that a large percentage of the protesters being arrested there for looting and other crimes are not local residentsNBC News:

The mayor of St. Paul said that while that city was quieter Friday night than the previous night, he has been told that all of those arrested were from out of state.

State officials said that around 80 percent of those arrested in the Twin Cities on Friday had come from outside Minnesota.

While “there’s a group of folks that are sad and mourning” about Floyd, Mayor Melvin Carter said, “there seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd’s death as a cover to create havoc.”

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota confirmed an alarming possibility in a separate NBC News story:

Acknowledging reports that white supremacists and drug cartels [Pols emphasis] were taking advantage of the widespread chaos in Minneapolis and fueling some of the destruction throughout the region, he said his office was working closely with federal officials to identify any organized groups fueling the mayhem.

All circumstances aggregate to raise major questions about who might really be responsible for the violence–in Minnesota and here in Denver. Whether it’s anarchist white kids who don’t understand they are not helping or something more sinister like white supremacist agents provocateurs, what matters for the present is this violence is not condoned by community leaders. In this space, we are extremely reticent to subsidize conspiracy theories, and try to ensure a factual basis exists for any allegation we level or subsidize with our attention.

But if you’ve got a strong feeling that something’s not right about this, you’re not alone.

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. The realist says:

    This report from the New York Times shines some light on what is really going on: Putin is funding some of these chaos groups (some are white supremacist groups but no doubt there are others), and Trump is Putin's puppet. Chaos in America and the weakening of our democratic government is what they both want. 

  2. bullshit! says:

    Shaken by another night of chaos that overwhelmed law enforcement, Gov. Tim Walz said Saturday he will fully mobilize the National Guard to combat what he called a “tightly controlled” group of outside agitators, some of them from out of state, who have turned city streets into scenes of looting and arson.

    The struggle to control the mayhem could bring another 1,000 National Guard soldiers into the cities, supplementing a force of 700, already the largest civil policing authority in the state’s history. Law enforcement officials said it would be the first full mobilization of the Guard in Minnesota since World War II.

    “Our cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are under assault,” Walz said, suggesting that a growing number of rioters are coming from outside the city, and possibly outside the state, in what he called “an organized attempt to destabilize civil society.”

    What the fuck is happening? Where are all of our local Nazis right now? Who is being arrested in Denver?

    This shit ain't what it seems.

  3. Duke Cox says:

    White supremacy groups are hoping to leverage George Floyd's death into their longed-for 'race war'

    The protests that have spread across the nation in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have attracted a diverse group of supporters that go beyond local Black communities and national organizations. At events in Washington, New York, Minneapolis, and elsewhere, community activists have been joined by allies, by groups supporting Latinos, Indian groups, and even groups of Mennonite farmers speaking out in support and showing up for protests.

    But, with dozens of buildings burned and Donald Trump preparing to bring in the military, there’s a growing sense that the violence in many cases isn’t originating from within the local Black community. In multiple instances, there have been incidents that seemed to spring up on the periphery of peaceful protests, leading to violent confrontations and property destruction. And increasingly, there are reports that these events are not originating organically from the protests or from confrontations between protesters and the police. There is a very real feeling that white supremacists are using this moment to create incidents designed to justify still more violence and suppression.


  4. JRRWIRED says:

    I had a crowd march through my block chanting “Who’s streets? Our streets.”  It was not their block, and they don’t live here. I wish they’d just go home.  I’m more concerned about my kid than their need to do whatever the hell it is they think they’re doing.  I don’t believe this is about George Floyd anymore. I believe this is about being holed up for three months.  Anything could have started this.* 

    I told them to get off my property after they left the street to cut towards an alley and they trampled over it with no concern for me, my family, or the people that live in my building.

    The police showed up and arrested seven of them.  The officers showed restraint, and professionalism.  All of the protesters were white, young, in their twenties, and are now facing 30 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.  I have no sympathy for them.

    *George Floyd was murdered, and his death at the hands of policemen was unnecessary and tragic. Black Lives Matter.

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