Police clashed with protesters Wednesday night in downtown Denver, arresting six people as they used pepper spray and batons to clear the group out of Civic Center.
Police officers, along with park rangers, a city attorney and members of Denver’s Department of Human Services, contacted the group around 7 p.m. Wednesday to see if they needed city services, Denver police Division Chief Ron Thomas said in an interview Thursday.
When it became clear that the demonstrators were not experiencing homelessness and did not intend to leave, city officials attempted to take down their structures, Thomas said, adding that the park has a 11 p.m. curfew and the city does not allow camping there.
The group, which ranged from 30 to 100 people over the course of the night, did not budge, Thomas said, so police told them they would be subject to arrest.
“At that time they used force against us, fire extinguishers being sprayed, objects being thrown at officers, and bear spray or other irritant targeting officers,” Thomas said. “We did respond to that force with mace ourselves.”
Six people were arrested on suspicion of violating park curfew and disobedience to lawful orders, Thomas said. Two officers sustained minor injuries.
The group Afro Liberation Front, which last week shared video on social media of protesters taking down a statue honoring Christopher Columbus in the park, tweeted video Wednesday night of the clash, saying “they aggressively yanked and prodded peaceful people from city sidewalks. They fired at (children, unhomed, protesters, people passing by)” adding #defundthepolice.
The video showed chemicals being sprayed and protesters in umbrellas clashing with officers in riot gear.
As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, there was no indication of a group forming in the same area, Thomas said.
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