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Denver erupted. Many have argued it was a necessary eruption, predicated on Denver’s well earned status as one of the most abusive police departments in the nation. In 2010 Denver Police Department was ranked #1 in terms of excessive force complaints, and a 2014 Office of the Independent Monitor report found that “45 percent of the complaints of serious misconduct by deputies, including inappropriate force, non-consensual touching and biased behavior, were never reported to the sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau to be investigated.” Use of force issues continue across the metro region, with Boulder in the spotlight for the excessive force incident against Zayd Atkinson, which resulted in a settlement and the creation of the Boulder Police Oversight Taskforce, and the Sammie Leon Lawrence IV incident.
America – and Denver specifically – were primed by generations of police abuse and “tough-on-crime” politics for an eruption. With already heightened domestic tensions, given the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant economic collapse, with so many out of work and looking at the system for answers, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor lit a fuse that, over the course of nearly two weeks, hasn’t been extinguished.
Importantly, Denver DA Beth McCann, it was reported today, declined to press charges against the officer who fatally shot 16 year old Alexis Mendez-Perez, who was suspected of “burglary”, an allegation we find confusing given he was accused of entering an abandoned house. Abandoned. It’s also a confusing, and infuriating, outcome, because, according to reporting, “Mendez-Perez was struck once in the “mid back,” according to an autopsy report. The shot left “no soot deposit or gunpowder stippling of the surrounding skin.” That is significant because it suggests that Mendez-Perez was at least several feet away from the shooter when he was hit – and consequently indicates there was not a struggle going on.”
Given this, and the incredible concessions to #DefundThePolice #AbolishThePolice, and #PoliceAccountability activists nationwide, we don’t expect to see a calming of turmoil, even if we expect to see the media move on to other topics.
These images were captured by our editor, De La Vaca, over the course of several days of #DenverProtest coverage. He had to cease coverage because, as part of the Denver Police Department’s documented, unnecessary assaults on peaceful protests and targeting of journalists and media, he was shot in the groin by a well aimed rubber bullet. We have a more images from local photographers Alexander Pringle and Kenneth Wajda coming.