//Protesters with the March 4 Black Women and the Party for Socialism and Liberation – Denver march through Denver on Sept. 26. Photo by Esteban Fernandez |Este.Fdez20B@gmail.com
Additional reporting by Esteban Fernandez.
The recent ruling regarding Breonna Taylor’s death brought out activists and other concerned citizens from all over the metro area to the Capitol on Sept. 26 to march for a number of issues.
The day kicked off with the 4th annual March 4 Black Women. The theme this year was “Silence in Solidarity.” Speakers touched on topics from sexual assault to police accountability but focused their message on Black women’s resiliency and their role as the backbone of the Black Lives Matter movement. The march was later joined by a Party for Socialism and Liberation – Denver rally and a celebration of life for Taylor hosted by IRL Art and Rob the Art Museum.
The march came just days after the somber announcement that a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by officers as she slept. Only one officer involved, Brett Hankison, was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment for the shots that went through Taylor’s walls into neighboring apartments.
“It’s just a reminder of how dangerous it is to be a Black woman in this country,” said one protester, who wanted to remain anonymous due to the fear of being doxed, or having their personal information publicly released.
Several activists spoke on the Capitol steps before marching toward the Denver County jail.
The arrest of six protesters by Denver Police last week was also a major focus of the day. Chants of “We the people fight the power” accompanied the march as they made their way down Speer Blvd.
Roughly before 2 p.m., a Black volunteer with the march was arrested walking another protester, who was elderly and Black, back to her car. Another protester shared the news of the arrest through a megaphone to the crowd. Police did not say why they were arresting the protester at the time. However, the arresting officer did relay a message from the Chief of Police which said the detained protester would be released in the next 30 minutes with a citation.
“You can join us or you don’t have to join us, but I’m going to ask that we still occupy this space until we see his beautiful Black self walk out those doors,” said the man on the megaphone to cheers of approval from the crowd.
As noontime speakers wrapped up for the day, news came out that an officer-involved shooting had taken place at 37th Avenue and Vine Street. A handful of protesters split off from those lingering at the capitol and headed to the neighborhood in question.
Although details at the time were scant, a press briefing delivered by Police Division Chief Ron Thomas said that a nearby officer responded to a call around 1:40 p.m. after neighbors made calls to the police about a man walking around with a large knife near Russell Square Park. Thomas reported that, after arriving at the scene, the officer exited the vehicle and had to fire his weapon at the man after he began to advance on the officer with the knife.
Protesters stood behind the crime scene tape, drawing signs denouncing the shooting and brandished them at officers. Two other activists, who declined to be named, did their best to inform passersby of the situation at hand with what information they had at the moment. There was uncertainty over the exact order of events.
“We’ve all lost count of how many times DPD has shot somebody in the last couple of weeks, after Antonio Blackbear and the three more that week,” said one of the protesters. “Just making sure neighbors know what’s going on.”
She added that it was important to show up and make sure they were heard.
Another activist said he spoke to a woman who had friends that witnessed the shooting and said they were traumatized by the event. They were recuperating at a nearby restaurant and would return later in the day to support whatever community members needed help with the aftermath. He added that according to several neighbors he talked to, kids were in the park when the shooting occurred.
The Denver Post later reported that home security camera footage from former city councilman Albus Brooks shows the officer ordering the man with the knife to put the weapon down before showing the man running directly toward the officer. The Post also reported that multiple shots were fired including one that smashed the rear window of a car parked in a nearby driveway. Questions remain over the role of mental health issues in the incident. The man was hospitalized after the shooting.
Later in the evening, as the sun set, a concert honoring Breonna Taylor took place in Civic Center Park. Local rappers, speakers and activists took the stage to throw down some bars as well as honor Taylor’s memory with calls to action and shared experiences. Photos of Taylor were projected behind the performers while lasers spelled out “Say her name” on the granite columns of the amphitheater.