“We need to understand that we are still in the middle of a civil rights movement that never ended,”
said Alex Landau, one of the organizers of an upcoming Denver District Attorney candidate forum, “This day should not be watered down with a bunch of administrative figures running the show. One reason why we think it’s appropriate to have this forum on that day in particular is because of how much that office, the District Attorney’s Office, contributes to mass incarceration, law enforcement violence.”
The fatal police shootings of Denver residents Ryan Ronquillo and Joe Valverde of 2014, and the 2015 fatal police shootings of Jessica Hernandez and Paul Castaway left a community raw and traumatized as it searched for ways not only to heal but also to organize to address a law enforcement excessive force crisis. Organizers cited Center for Disease Control figures that list Denver 2nd in the nation for law enforcement homicides after Baltimore between 1999 and 2012.
Several events have taken place over the course of the last 18 months to recognize those who were killed and to call for police reform and for reforms in the Denver District Attorney’s Office where communities and the organizations that support them say that faulty policies have led to the continued abuse of some communities.
A recall effort that focused on Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey that gathered over 20,000 signatures but not enough to place a recall on the 2015 election ballot was organized by community members who are carefully monitoring this year’s DA election campaigns. Saying that holding a forum to question the candidates is a first step to accountability in the DA’s office, several groups have joined in collaborative efforts to host a Denver District Attorney candidate forum on Martin Luther King Day following the annual Marade. The event will take place on Monday, January 18, 2016.
A current prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s office, Kenneth Boyd faces University of Colorado Regent Michael Carrigan, and Colorado State Legislator Beth McCann. Chief Deputy District Attorney Helen Morgan announced her candidacy in September of 2015. All have confirmed to participate in the Denver Justice Project (DJP) forum.
Survivors Organizing for Liberation, Buried Seedz of Resistance, Black Lives Matter 5280, Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Colorado, National Lawyers Guild of Colorado, and Service Employees International Union have all joined resources to hold the event at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1820 Broadway, in Denver. The event will begin at 12:30 immediately following the Marade.
Organizers with DJP Roshan Bliss, Amy Kafuuma, and Alex Landau spoke to KGNU about their motivations for organizing the event.
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