Headlines June 29, 2020
The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld the state’s ban on large capacity gun magazines. In its decision the court says limiting magazines to 15 rounds does not violate people’s right to defend themselves under the state constitution.
The law dates to 2013, the year after the Aurora Theater shooting, and was part of an effort to limit the number of deaths in mass shootings. Opponents of the law said it would also effectively ban a large majority of magazines that have removable base pads that can be converted to hold more ammunition.
Today’s ruling however says the law only applied to magazines that are designed to be readily expanded to hold more than 15 rounds. The ruling says the law does not impact approximately 90% of newer magazines that are made with removable base pads to allow for maintenance.
The court concluded that the law therefore was a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power.
The Aurora Police Department is today defending its use of force against people who gathered for a rally calling for justice in the case of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black man who died in August 2019, after police administered a now banned chokehold and injected him with ketamine. McClain was not accused of or even suspected of any crime. Police had responded to a 911 call that reported a suspicious man wearing a ski mask who was waving their arms around.
Protestors shut down a highway north of Denver on Saturday. Later a violin vigil took place honoring McClain who played the instrument. A group of violinists played in a circle, a scene which dramatically juxtaposed with the riot police which came to break up the protest.
Pepper spray was used on protestors after police ordered them to disperse saying it was an unlawful assembly as a small contingent of protestors were arming themselves with rocks and sticks.
However, people attending the rally say they didn’t see protestors behaving violently and they dispute the police account.
Aurora city officials are currently deciding on a new chief of police to head the department. Omar Montgomery, President of the NAACP Aurora branch, says he hopes the new chief brings a change to how the police operate.
“The whole criminal justice system is a part of the community, because if you don’t look at it from that perspective, you’re going to keep having disparities in schools where kids are being suspended and expelled. You’re going to keep having disparities where some communities are over-policed and some communities are under policed,” he said.
A wildfire is burning near Chatfield State Park, south of Denver, prompting mandatory evacuations of a subdivision.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s office evacuees are asked to go to Thunderridge Highschool and shelter in place inside of vehicles. Large and small animals can be taken to the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
The Chatridge 2 fire is burning 267 acres and is 60% contained.
Boulder County today indefinitely extended its mask ordinance. The order requires face coverings for every person older than 12 years of age whenever in public anywhere in Boulder County that social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained.
However, the county says it does not have enough resources to police individual people who are violating the order. Instead, the county health officials are asking for the public’s help in normalizing wearing masks.
Aurora Police are facing questions about their use of pepper spray and claims they used non-lethal weapons on protesters Saturday. 9News reports that hours after the demonstrations began, police said the protest turned unlawful.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon thousands of protesters gathered at the Aurora Municipal Center demonstrating against the death of Elijah McClain who succumbed after being detained by police in 2019.
The peaceful assembly began at about 1 p.m. and at one point protesters marched onto Interstate 225 and temporarily shut down the highway in both directions.
A second rally, organized by Students for Elijah McClain, took place around 4 p.m. at the Municipal Center.
Denver7 reports that police said the demonstrations remained peaceful and there were no arrests or injuries reported.
However, around 8 p.m. police then said protesters removed a barrier near police headquarters and tore down some plywood that was protecting windows on the municipal building.
About 8:20 p.m., Aurora police declared an unlawful assembly and said “a small contingent” of protesters were “arming themselves with rocks & sticks and continue to ignore orders to move back.”
Officers then used pepper spray on demonstrators. One man who was sprayed said that he had first been shoved in the stomach with a baton.
That scene contrasted sharply with violinists who were performing at the same time, honoring McClain who played the instrument. The Denver Post reports that eight violinists in a circle, played beautiful, soft melodies. People slowly walked over, leaving the riot-gear-clad police, and sat on the pavement, lighting candles and listening quietly to McClain’s favorite instrument.
The use of force by police on Saturday night was one of the first after Senate Bill 217 was signed in to law making them more accountable for their actions.
State Senator Leslie Herod a Democrat, told Denver 7 that if you’re not upset by what happened in Aurora [on Saturday] you’re not paying attention. She added that she is calling on [Aurora] Mayor Michael Coffman to specifically address the use of chemical agents on protesters on Saturday and to take swift action to rectify the situation.
The City of Denver has reached an agreement with four people who sued over the police department’s use of force during George Floyd protests, officials said.
The Associated Press reports that the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit against the city and the police department June 5 after claiming they were injured by law enforcement officers while protesting police brutality. The lawsuit claims officers misused tear gas, flash-bang grenades and non-lethal bullets during protests in Denver.
A judge must approve the agreement. The details of the settlement are currently unknown as is the date when it could become final.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a second lawsuit over the use of force Thursday on behalf of Black Lives Matter 5280 in Denver. That lawsuit was not part of the settlement.
Multiple groups in Denver are coming together to host a virtual town hall this week with a goal to create a task force “to reimagine policing in Denver.”
CBS4 reports that the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance is joined by the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and the Denver Citizen Oversight Board. Dr. Robert Davis, of the Denver Ministerial Alliance said that they need to ask themselves ‘what does it look like to bring community and policing and all of the various social services together to come up with a model that is unique for Denver?
The virtual town hall will be Tuesday at 6 p.m.
In Denver on Friday, city crews removed a statue of Kit Carson that had topped a monument in downtown Denver at the intersection of Colfax and Broadway.
The Colorado Sun reports it’s the third art installation memorializing a controversial figure to be removed from public spaces in Denver in two days.
A city spokesperson said the removal was done proactively for safety and as a precautionary measure to keep it from being torn down similar to the sculpture at Civic Center park Thursday.
Protesters tore down a Civil War statue at the Capitol early Thursday morning and a sculpture in Civic Center dedicated to Christopher Columbus Thursday night.
Glenn Morris, a leadership council member of the American Indian Movement, said that Kit Carson was as bad and as evil as any Confederate general to Black people. He added that racism against Black Americans and oppression of Native Americans were intertwined as the two original sins: the US genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans.
The Denver Public Schools will return to in-person classes this fall.
Superintendent Susana Cordova said at a Friday news conference that the district’s 92,000 students will move back to in-person instruction for the school year at all of the district’s schools.
School days will look a lot different for students with mandatory masks, health screenings upon entering schools and modified schedules that keep cohorts of kids together.
However, the Colorado Sun reports the district will also offer an online schooling option for grades K-12 to accommodate families uncomfortable sending their kids back to classrooms.
Meanwhile, A Denver elementary school principal has been removed from her position after an investigation found she discriminated against an 8-year-old Black student because of his race.
Chalkbeat reports that a letter from Superintendent Cordova to school families says that Marisol Enriquez is no longer principal at Inspire Elementary School in northeast Denver.
The school’s attorney wrote the boy’s grandmother saying that Enriquez had treated the boy in a manner different from a white student.
The school board is set to vote Monday on whether to fire her from the district.