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CU students lead Boulder march for George Floyd

Protesters want to deliver a strong message from a town with a history of race, diversity issues.

BOULDER, Colo. — The beauty of Boulder can be captured in color on a canvas or experienced in a stroll in the park. But, on Friday, students such as Justice Calderon were walking for a different reason.

"I'm black. I'm a PhD student, so I'm pushing forward for the community," said Calderon, an engineering major. "Everyone wants to have discussions and kind of debate how we handle the situation, but at the end of the day, we have to actually step into that future."

Like hundreds of other marches across the country, this one was sparked by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Peaceful protests have occurred for several days in Denver and many other cities.

Thousands of students and residents participated in the march Friday through Boulder. 

University of Colorado Boulder graduate Christian Maljian said that changing the future is important in a town with a past.

"Even Boulder gets lumped into like, it's the 'Boulder bubble,' but we need to diversify and show everyone has a story," Maljian said.

The march started at 13th Avenue and College Street on "The Hill" near the CU campus. The CU football coach and his players led the march, which winded through town and ended in Central Park. The marchers were joined by former CU Buff wide receiver Laviska Shenault, who was just drafted into the NFL by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Boulder's been a place of activism for many decades, and we need to see that movement towards seeing the individual rather than the group," Maljian said.

Calderon said race and diversity have been issues in Boulder for a long time.

"It's a predominantly white town right?" Calderon said. "It's not a lot of diversity, and even when I see incoming graduate students, they're concerned about that problem."

After days of Denver protests turned into riots, Maljian wants Boulder's march to look different.

"Without the peace, we're not moving forward in any direction," Maljian said.

So, while the setting might be different than Denver's, the message is the same from people like Calderon.

"The rage and anger and all the violence that is going on, the emotions behind it are completely valid and justified," Calderon said.

He said he hopes the beauty of Boulder can be seen in this stroll through town together with police officers.

"This is exactly the kind of arena and problems that we want to face in an area like this," Calderon said.

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