DENVER — As nighttime rioting continues in downtown Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock extended the curfew for the city and county for another four nights, through Friday morning.
The curfew originally was in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday night through Monday morning.
The extension goes from 9 p.m to 5 a.m. Monday night through Friday morning, according to a spokesperson for Hancock.
There is an exception to the curfew for law enforcement officers, firefighters, medical personnel, the Colorado National Guard, members of the media, anyone traveling to or from work or the airport, anyone fleeing danger, those experiencing homelessness and those who need immediate medical care.
The curfew applies to anyone on foot or in a vehicle in any space accessible to the public in the City and County of Denver, and Denver Police Department (DPD) said officers will be enforcing it.
"Once 8 p.m. hits, our message is very simple: 'Go home,'" Hancock said on Saturday. "If you are planning on come downtown tonight, stay home."
Peaceful protests began Thursday in Denver as a statement against police brutality after a video shared widely on social media showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd 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.
Denver municipal code gives the mayor authority to protect the immediate safety and public welfare of the city, Attorney Kristin Bronson said.
Bronson said punishment for violating curfew could be a fine of up to $999 dollars and/or imprisonment of up to 300 days in jail.
The Denver Emergency Operations Center has been activated to monitor and support the public safety response to the demonstrations.
Other local law enforcement agencies are deploying resources to assist the city, and Gov. Jared Polis deployed the National Guard as well, according to Hancock.
An emergency declaration allowed the city to devote additional resources to its response to the protests, Hancock said.
On Saturday, Hancock praised three separate demonstrations that took place on Friday and concluded without any violence, and took aim at "a few agitators" who he said were hijacking the peaceful demonstrations.
"What change do you inspire by setting a car on fire, throwing rocks at police officers or vandalizing people's property?" Hancock asked.
Hancock and DPD Chief Paul Pazen emphasized that it was a few agitators who were inciting violence with homemade explosives, rocks, bottles, graffiti and vandalism.
In response, Hancock said officers will take actions like the curfew to protect themselves, others and private property.
"The person who brought a crowbar last night wasn't thinking about George Floyd," Hancock said. "Neither were the people who brought assault rifles, handguns and explosives. They weren't thinking about George Floyd, nor those who brought baseball bats the night before."
Pazen thanked a few organizers who put together peaceful protests, and reasserted that DPD supports the First Amendment rights of protesters, but said officers must intervene to prevent violent actions during the protests.
"Don't allow these individual agitators to hijack your message. Don't allow them to scar this beautiful city that the people of Denver have built," Pazen said. "Attempting to capitalize on this tragic killing of Mr. George Floyd to cause damage in our city is nearly as inexcusable as the horrific killing itself."
Pazen asked peaceful protesters not to tolerate any agitators, and asked them to weed out anyone trying to incite violence; "We are asking the good to help weed out the bad."
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.”
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.
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).
Another 170 people were arrested Sunday on similar charges to the night before.
That makes for a total of 284 arrests by DPD from the protests since Thursday night. The names and charges of most 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.
Hancock has said the city's officers used "restraint" in response to the protesters. He held a news conference Friday afternoon calling for protests to be peaceful. He also condemned Floyd's death.
"Like many in our community, I am outraged at the senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His life matters," Hancock said. "I am proud that many in Denver have wanted to join the chorus of those across the country demanding justice and consequences for his life being taken too early."
Hancock released a statement Friday night that reads:
"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.”
As people in Denver protested George Floyd's death for a second day, Hancock said he considers the deaths of Marvin Booker, Michael Marshall and Jessie Hernandez - all officer-involved killings - to be murder.
“Those individuals were, yes, murdered by police officers,” Hancock said during an interview on Next with Kyle Clark on Friday evening.
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