Denver City Councilman Paul Kashmann, who chairs the council’s safety committee, is calling on the Office of the Independent Monitor to evaluate the Denver Police Department’s response to the George Floyd protests and the journalists covering them.
"As Chair of City Council’s Safety Committee,” he told Colorado Politics in an email, “I have asked Safety Department leadership to come before Council in the coming weeks to discuss the use of force in crowd control situations. Reports of excessive use of force and targeting of journalists in recent days are concerning and must be investigated."
It would be “appropriate,” Kashmann said, “for the Office of the Independent Monitor to do a comprehensive evaluation of DPD’s response to the protests to give the public confidence that our oversight role is being taken seriously and to uncover any breaches of service that may have arisen along the way.”
Nicholas Mitchell, Denver's independent monitor, did not immediately respond to Colorado Politics' request for comment.
Earlier in the day, the police department confirmed it is investigating a social media post in which one of its police officers, Thomas J. McClay, allegedly shared a picture of himself and two other Denver officers in riot gear with the caption, “Let’s start a riot."
Councilwomen Amanda Sawyer and Candi CdeBaca, who are working on a charter change proposal that would require council approval for the city's public safety director, as well as the three heads of Denver's safety agencies, both spoke out against the alleged posting.
Sawyer called the post, if founded to be true, "extremely upsetting and unacceptable." CdeBaca, who has attended the protests, told Colorado Politics she was "appalled yet unsurprised" to witness first-hand police violence against peaceful protesters.
Denver City Council as a body released a statement Monday afternoon to “acknowledge the historic and current systemic issues in regard to police brutality.
“Officers who violate community trust and use inappropriate force must be held accountable within departments and criminally,” the council stated in the news release.
“We commit to the citizens of Denver and the Black Lives Matter movement that we see you, we hear you and we stand with you as we keep the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other victims at the forefront of our work to address racism and oppression in our government systems. We look forward to furthering this work with you.”
The council postponed their regular Monday evening meeting to Thursday “out of an abundance of caution,” as the last four nights of protests in Denver have resulted in violent clashes between police and protesters once the sun has set.
The mayor also extended the city curfew, which now runs from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., until Friday.
For the fifth consecutive day in Denver, demonstrators gathered in front of the Colorado State Capitol on Monday to protest the death of Floyd, a black man who was killed on Memorial Day by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Denver police Chief Paul Pazen marched with protesters in Civic Center Park as the late afternoon demonstration began. At the 9 p.m. curfew passed, there were little to no confrontations.
Pazen told 9News that officers would not be arresting protesters who were peacefully demonstrating, even if they were breaking curfew.
The Denver Police Department late Monday afternoon released information about protesters arrested since Thursday, showing most of those arrested were young and the vast majority face only a curfew charge. The information about where those arrested live is still incomplete.
The vast majority of those arrested, 83%, face a charge for violating the curfew. About 6% face some sort of weapons charge. Three face property damage or graffiti charges. One faces arson charges. Three face charges of “disobedience” or “failure to obey an officer.”
The records so far provide an incomplete picture of the residencies of those arrested. Whether they live in Denver, in Colorado but outside Denver, or out of state was provided for only half of the arrest records.
Tay Anderson, a Black Lives Matter activist and Denver school board member, tweeted Monday that he is making the “painful decision” to stay home while protests continue, after a number of Google searches of his name “have been uncovered that potentially make me a target.”
When searching “Tay Anderson” on Google, the search engine shows that people have searched for “Tay Anderson shot” and “Tay Anderson shot in back of head.”
On Twitter, Anderson wrote that he refuses to put anyone at risk by continuing to attend protests.
Evan Wyloge of The Gazette contributed to this report.