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Big crowd rallies at Blackout 2020 seeking change, accountability at Aurora PD

Speaker: This doesn't end today, or this week
Posted at 3:42 AM, Jun 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 13:49:17-04

AURORA, Colo. -- They came by the hundreds, congregating on the plaza at Aurora Municipal Center, to express frustration and anger about excessive use of force by Aurora Police.

They also came to remember Elijah McClain, a young man who was stopped by police last August, while walking home from a convenience store, after a caller reported a "suspicious looking" man wearing a ski mask waving his arms.

Police say McClain resisted when they tried to detain him. His family's attorney said police terrorized him for 15 minutes.

First responders administered Ketamine, and McClain later died.

The Adams County Coroner couldn't determine whether McClain's death was an accident, or a homicide related to APD's use of a carotid hold.

Calls for reform

Many of those attending the Blackout 2020 rally believe McClain would still be alive if police had handled the case differently.

They compared his death to that of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police.

"The system of white supremacy is what's upholding police being able to put their knee on our necks and nobody gets prosecuted," one speaker said.

Another speaker, Dr. Ryan Ross, said he's been reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King's dream, and how it's been deferred.

"We can no longer defer this dream," he said. "It's time for us to take action."

Ross told the crowd, there's an amazing opportunity to redefine racial relationships.

"We can look at data from Jane Elliot's Brown Eyed-Blue Eyed project and actually eliminate racism in 21 years if we we actually decided to," he said, to applause.

Denver School Board member Tay Anderson called out white people.

"It shouldn't take a twitter hashtag for you to show up for black people," he said. "So you have been officially called out, because we don't want to have to gather like this again."

Hashim Coates, with the Colorado Democrats African American Initiative, said people of color are disproportionately impacted by police violence.

"It is clear to all of us that police reform is not just needed, but is long overdue," he said.

The Blackout 2020 rally wasn't the only protest in Aurora Saturday.

Nearly two-dozen people held signs and marched along Colfax in front of the Mango House, a shared space for refugees, with a food court.

The owner of the property, Dr. P.J. Parmar, was apparently held at gunpoint by an Aurora officer, last March, who demanded to know what he was doing on some adjacent property, which he also owns.

Parmar told Denver7 that Aurora officers need more training on how to interact with minority and refugee communities.

He said the gun in his face didn't bother him as much as the officer questioning whether he really owned the property.

He said it's a shame that some officers don't know business owners in the area.

The protesters at the Municipal Center and in front of the Mango House said there needs to be police reform and more accountability.