Despite threatening weather, a diverse crowd of thousands gathered in downtown Denver again Wednesday to protest the death of George Floyd.
Aurora residents Stormye Everett, 30, and Quaneisha Collins, 29 said it was first time they were able to get child care to attend.
“We’re just saying be nice to us,” Everett said, “so we’re not targeted and hunted down. You can hate me from afar, but don’t kill me.”
Another African-American, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, also put in a brief appearance.
As the crowd marched down the 16th Street Mall, Starbucks employees handed out water and chanted “hands up, don’t shoot!” along with marchers.
Another chant reflected current efforts by Colorado lawmakers to pass a police reform bill: “When I say change, you say policy! Change! Policy! Change! Policy!”
The protests have gotten larger and more organized, with the addition of more first-aid stations each night. A young man was grilling chicken, hot dogs and pork for protesters early Wednesday evening, and organizers spoke from the Civic Center ampitheater stage using donated mics and speakers.
It was Denver’s fifth night under a curfew ordered by Hancock after the first days of protests resulted in rocks and bottles being thrown at police and graffiti and vandalism of downtown buildings. Police, in turn, deployed tear gas, foam bullets, pepper balls and smoke bombs to disperse crowds and deter protesters.
But Monday and Tuesday, police held off on using force until after midnight, by which time most protesters had gone home.
As the police use of force has diminished, the crowds have grown. Thousands have turned out, starting in the afternoon, to rally and to march in memory of Floyd, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor and local men killed by police.
The marchers have covered vast swaths of the downtown area, including the 16th Street Mall, Civic Center and Five Points.
More than 350 people have been arrested since Thursday on various charges.
Denver’s Police Chief Paul Pazen said Monday the department will investigate all allegations of force against peaceful people after eyewitnesses reported peaceful protesters and observers getting hit with foam bullets and pepper balls at demonstrations
A vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 9 at Civic Center Park to honor Floyd on the day of his Houston funeral. Candles will be provided, and attendees are asked to join in a gathering of unity and peace, according to the organizing Facebook page.
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