Demonstrators Protest Police Brutality For A Second Day In Colorado Springs

May 31, 2020

Several hundred people came out to Colorado Springs City Hall Sunday for a demonstration against police brutality. The protest, like others across the country, comes after the death of George Floyd. Floyd, an African American man, died at the hands of police in Minneapolis last week.

It was the second demonstration in as many days in Colorado Springs, though protests elsewhere have been going on for days. In Denver, protests have taken place for the past four days, with some turning violent.

Protesters gathered around 10 a.m. on Sunday at City Hall in Colorado Springs. Around midday, chants of "No justice, no peace!" could be heard a block and a half away. Drivers passing by honked horns in support.

Other chants included "No justice, no peace, prosecute the police!", "Say his name!" "George Floyd!", "I can't breathe!" and "Black Lives Matter!"

Demonstrators in the median along Nevada Ave. outside Colorado Springs City Hall on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

At that time, there appeared to be little to no visible police presence, save for several cars just south of City Hall helping to steer traffic away from northbound Nevada Avenue. At least one demonstrator walked along the street, encouraging people to stay on the sidewalk or the median.

John Gibbs stands off from the majority of demonstrators at Colorado Springs City Hall on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

John Gibbs came out to support the demonstration. He said he wasn't at Saturday's protest and doesn't normally come out for "stuff like this." He said it was important to be there, despite his anxiety.

"The importance of this is people saying everybody's connected, everybody's equal, and we all love each other and we're all family," Gibbs said.

Also in attendance was 31-year-old Jessica Cheatham. She said she was there for a number of reasons.

“One is to continue supporting the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. “Two, to demonstrate a presence of people who stand against police brutality in Colorado Springs, and to try to continue to fight for justice for George Floyd and all of these black individuals that have been brutally murdered."

Jessica Cheathum stands with her sign indicating names of people killed.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Cheathum said she was not at the protest on Saturday, but that she wrote letters to city council members and the police chief. She also said she's planning on attending some city council meetings to help "push for better measures toward ending police brutality, including body worn cameras."

She said she would keep coming out "until the system changes."

According to the police department, around 500 body worn cameras are in operation today.

Many of the protestors were wearing face coverings, a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.

Graffiti outside the El Paso County Courthouse from Saturday's protest.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

On Saturday, protests in Colorado Springs ended with police confrontations. Windows at the El Paso County Courthouse were damaged and several other buildings vandalized.

In a statement to KKTV on Sunday, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers praised local authorities in dispersing what he described as "a small number of people with a different agenda who were very aggressive." Suthers also commended those who are "exercising their rights peacefully."

Sunday's demonstration continued into the afternoon. Around 2 p.m., there were no barricades up outside the nearby Colorado Springs police headquarters, but FOX21 reports they've since been added. By late afternoon, FOX21 reported the protest had moved to Acacia Park.

The Gazette reports 38 people were arrested after Saturday's protest in Colorado Springs turned destructive.

Sunday's protest continued into the evening after a 10 a.m. start.

The Colorado Springs Police Department issued a tweet at 7:30 p.m., encouraging motorists to avoid the intersection of South Nevada Ave. and East Rio Grande, which is near the police headquarters.

KRDO reporter Danny Mata tweeted that a police sergeant handed out his card to several protestors and talked with them, while some of the demonstrators gave the officer flowers.

Around 9 p.m. protesters returned to the area of Colorado Springs police headquarters. Just after 10 p.m., Colorado Springs police chief Vince Niski released a statement:

Over the past few days, I have thought deeply about what I can say as your City’s Chief of Police that would make a difference following the events that transpired in Minneapolis. As I reflected, I came to understand that there are no words that could fully provide stability after the video has caused so much strife, pain, anger, and a negative perception of law enforcement across our entire nation. Instead, I want to give you my honest outlook.

I am not in a position to sit in judgment of another law enforcement organization or their employees. From what I have seen and what I know about use of force procedures the actions of the police in Minneapolis were questionable and tragic. In being transparent with everyone, I am saddened. I am saddened by Mr. Floyd’s death, as every life is precious. I am saddened watching videos of communities being burned in protest, as violence is never the answer. And lastly, I am saddened to see trust in law enforcement diminish, as the actions of a few do not represent us all.

According to FOX21 reporter Kate Singh, an officer read a version of the statement through a bullhorn.

According to a live video stream from KOAA, protesters were asking the police officers to "Take a knee and we will leave."

Other chants included one for De'Von Bailey, who was killed by Colorado Springs police after a report of a robbery. Ultimately, the FBI concluded that "although undoubtedly devastating to his family, friends, and community, did not result from any willful violation of Mr. Bailey’s constitutional rights."

As of 11:30 p.m., the standoff continued, police in riot gear on one end of the street, protesters on the other, chanting "Take a knee."

As reported by KKTV, late Sunday night law enforcement officers used flashbangs or similar devices to separate the group of protesters. The station says people in the crowd threw objects at the police.

The Gazette reports the Colorado Springs Police Department is looking for more information about a vehicle that drove through a crowd at the protest.

This post has been updated to include events reported later in the evening.