The 11th day of activism in Denver spurred by the police killing of George Floyd opened with a student-led march down Colfax Avenue and continued into the evening with throngs of demonstrators once again massing outside the Capitol.
In the morning, Denver police closed streets to allow for the march led by Denver Public Schools students for Black Lives Matter that started at the Greek Theater in Civic Center Park and moved east along Colfax to City Park.
Law enforcement also handed out water bottles to marchers, who gathered near the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial at City Park before kneeling together in silence.
Protesters later gathered on the Capitol steps Sunday afternoon following the march in another demonstration, with organizers addressing the crowd about the importance of voting.
At a table near the gathering, a group took paperwork from those who wanted to register to vote.
Ian Hensen was one of more than a dozen who registered during the first half-hour after the table was set up. The 24-year-old said he’s never followed politics in the past, but he now feels compelled to vote to help others.
“I want to be part of the change,” Hensen said.
The crowd is sitting in silence. pic.twitter.com/EONlQTF5Xt
— Shelly Bradbury (@ShellyBradbury) June 7, 2020
Marches continued through downtown on Sunday, with hundreds of demonstrators at one point mid-afternoon blocking the intersection of Speer Boulevard and Colfax Avenue.
Marchers sat in silence for nine minutes, marking the length of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck before he died.
From there, the demonstrators returned to Civic Center Park and the Capitol grounds, which saw more and more people arrive into the early evening.
Best friends Vanessa Saucedo, 22, and Daniel Turcios, 22, said they ventured to the Capitol area for the first time Sunday because the scene felt safer than a week ago, when police fired were still firing tear gas and pepper balls at demonstrators in the movement’s early days.
“I hope to see that we make a little progress. Hopefully, we can become a community where we can live with the police, rather than against them,” Saucedo said, pausing along East Colfax Avenue near Denver’s cathedral.
“I would love to see this change something with our presidential elections coming up,” she said.
A little before 6 p.m., the scene outside the Capitol was festive, with drum beats, party attire, music and impromptu political debates about the social order.
— Bruce Finley (@finleybruce) June 8, 2020
Last week, the tear gas wafting around 11th and Sherman streets “didn’t feel good,” said Denver Tait, 18, who lives there, drawing on a cigarette. And now Tait, who said he’s demonstrated near the Capitol for 11 days, was optimistic about eventually seeing laws changed to increase police accountability.
“I am expecting they will change some cop laws, and police will have to go through psych training,” he said.
Tait moved to Denver from Grand Rapids, Michigan, last year with his sister and is looking for work in an auto body shop.
“This movement will go pretty good for us because we are the people of this state, and the cops can’t really do anything now,” he said. “All I want is for police to be trained more because I have black friends — a lot of them — and I don’t want to see them hurt.”
Aaron Fairrow, 30, was impressed by the diversity among demonstrators, but said that he doesn’t expect to see real change in his lifetime.
“This has been happening for years,” he said. “You may see a few changes for now, but at the end of the day we have a long road ahead of us.”
But, he said, that’s not the point. “It’s for the next generation to experience the change,” he said.