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Dumpster fires, vandalism in Denver during 3rd night of protests

84 people were arrested as police dispersed the crowd, with most people clearing out less than two hours after the 8 p.m. curfew.

DENVER — Denver Police say 84 people were arrested Saturday night in downtown Denver, all except one being arrested after the city's 8 p.m. curfew went into effect.

The 83 people arrested after 8 p.m. are all facing a charge of curfew violation, and some others face possible charges of throwing projectiles, damaging property and having prohibited weapons, according to the Denver Police Department (DPD).

That makes for a total of 118 arrests by DPD from the protests since Thursday night. The names and charges of the suspects won't be released until Monday at the earliest, according to a DPD spokesperson.

DPD released two photos of weapons that were recovered on Saturday.

Police largely gained control over the situation in downtown Denver less than two hours after a citywide 8 p.m. curfew went into effect following two prior nights of riots that included vandalism, fires and looting.

The riots followed peaceful protests during the day Thursday, Friday and Saturday in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin charged with 3rd degree murder, manslaughter in death of George Floyd

> Editor's note: The videos and images in this article may contain graphic content and language that some viewers may find disturbing.

Tear gas and pepper balls were deployed starting shortly after 4 p.m., and shortly after 8 p.m., police quickly dismantled a barricade at 14th Avenue and Lincoln Street that protesters had constructed using chain link fence and road closure signs.

The video below shows protesters constructing the barricade.

About 30-40 small fires ignited in dumpsters and on items like mattresses and trash piles starting shortly after 8:30 p.m. 

The fires were lit mostly in the area east of the Capitol building.

The area surrounding the Capitol cleared out at about 8:45 p.m.

People did remain along South Broadway for hours after the 8 p.m. city- and county-wide curfew went into effect on Saturday, something the mayor issued to try and curb the violence that went into its third night in Denver.

9NEWS Investigative Reporter Chris Vanderveen spoke with two protesters who said they came to peacefully protest.

"Us peacefully protesting for many years...trying to make our voice heard...it really hasn't...done anything...[police] are still doing it,"one protester said. "So people...want to be violent and show...our peaceful protests are not working, so we gotta be rowdy and show you guys that we're enough — that enough is enough."

Polis ordered soldiers from the Colorado National Guard Reaction Force to mobilize to "support the City and County of Denver and local law enforcement to ensure public safety."

The Colorado National Guard received a request through the State Emergency Operations Center for approximately 100 National Guard members at nine sites in Denver. 

A spokesperson said the National Guard's role would not act as law enforcement and that they would not be making arrests.

The National Guard provided protection to building, property and infrastructures. 

Denver Police tweeted photos Saturday evening of items police confiscated during Saturday's protest.

"Unfortunately, the actions of a few agitators are hijacking the memory and life of George Floyd," DPD said. "To use this tragedy to inflict harm on our community is inexcusable. These are a few items confiscated today that were intended to disrupt and cause damage to our city."

Credit: Denver Police Department
DPD said it confiscated items on Saturday "that were intended to disrupt and cause damage to our city."
Credit: KUSA
DPD said it confiscated items on Saturday "that were intended to disrupt and cause damage to our city."

9NEWS Reporter Jeremy Jojola saw multiple blasts of tear gas and pepper balls at a face-off between police and protesters shortly after 7 p.m.

Around 6 p.m., a large police presence began moving to clear a large crowd outside the state Capitol with tear gas and took away signs being used as shields.

The video below shows tear gas being deployed shortly after 6 p.m.

A standoff between a crowd and police at Civic Central Station also took place around 5:30 p.m., and 9NEWS reporter Steve Staeger said the crowd was chanting the name of Elijah McClain, who died after being restrained by Aurora Police (APD) officers in 2019.

RELATED: Review board clears Aurora officers in altercation that sent man into cardiac arrest

Jojola earlier in the day followed a group that peacefully marched around downtown.

RELATED: Review board clears Aurora officers in altercation that sent man into cardiac arrest

9NEWS reporter Noel Brennan saw protesters taking a knee in front of armored police vehicles in the middle of Lincoln and Colfax chanting, "Don't shoot."

Credit: KUSA

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has suspended all bus and light rail service in and out of downtown Denver until at least Sunday after protests Thursday and Friday night ended with tear gas, shattered windows, arrests and injured police officers.

RELATED: RTD suspends all bus and light rail service to and from downtown Denver

The second day of protests in response to George Floyd's death was largely peaceful until Friday night, which included tear gas, flashbangs and fire.

RELATED: Hancock issues curfew for Denver after 2nd night of violence

DPD identified 13 people arrested during Thursday's violent protests, and said 19 more were arrested on Friday, who likely won't be identified until Monday.

DPD also said three officers were injured Thursday, and another was injured on Friday.

RELATED: Denver police identify 13 arrested during violent protests Thursday

Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement on Saturday:

“Friday’s demonstrations against the senseless killing of George Floyd and far too many innocent black Americans before him began as a peaceful day time protest and unfortunately shifted into disorder late into the evening. It appears the disruptors that caused damage throughout the city were not necessarily the same peaceful protesters from the day time. Unfortunately, because of a few individuals who were more focused on causing unrest and damage rather than advocating for justice, people awoke to images of smashed out windows, graffiti, and the smell of tear gas. We are all filled with grief about the unjust murder of George Floyd and I stand ready to join hands with those hurting today as we peacefully work for justice. Today is a new day and it is my hope and the hope of all Coloradans that any future demonstrations remain peaceful. To those peacefully protesting at a safe social distance, know that I see you and I am listening. Mayor Hancock has requested the support of the National Guard to help keep people safe and prevent further destruction and I have granted that request.”

RELATED: Fires, more tear gas during second night of Denver protests

Mayor Hancock released a statement Friday night:

"What we are seeing tonight is needless, senseless and destructive. Once again, the violent actions of a few are drowning out legitimate calls for justice. Twice today, we had peaceful, successful demonstration where people expressed their outrage over the death of George Floyd. We saw them, we heard them, and they respected their cause. Unfortunately, another element with selfish motives and reckless intentions infiltrated tonight’s demonstration and incited violence with homemade explosives, rocks, bottles, graffiti and vandalism. This is not who we are, and calmer heads must prevail. Our police officers have a sworn duty to maintain everyone’s safety – and they will. People are crying out to be heard, but this violent distraction only divides us.”

The protests were meant to be a statement against police brutality after a video shared widely on social media showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”

That officer and other officers at the scene have all been fired. On Friday, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Mark Harrington announced one former officer, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested in connection with Floyd's death.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin charged with 3rd degree murder, manslaughter in death of George Floyd

The video of the arrest led to protests across the country – including in Minneapolis where crowds set fires and looted businesses.

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