A pro-police rally in downtown Denver drew counter-protesters Sunday afternoon, with the two contrary groups converging in Civic Center.
The pro-police rally has been billed as a family-friendly event with music, speakers and food, and is scheduled to run from 3 to 6 p.m.
Adina Chapman said she came to the Denver rally from Colorado Springs support law enforcement. “I’m not saying there doesn’t need to be reforms,” she said. “But if we don’t have police, we don’t have safety.”
A counter-protest, organized by Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation, started at 2 p.m. at the Capitol building, and aims to “shut down” the pro-police rally.
Lillian House, an organizer for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, said they organized the counter-protest because a celebration of police is “unacceptable.”
“It’s just all around out of touch with the struggles people are facing,” she said.
The counter protesters have flooded into the pro police rally pic.twitter.com/HLPKFiMu3V
— Shelly Bradbury (@ShellyBradbury) July 19, 2020
That pro-police rally has been promoted by Randy Corporon, an attorney who has recently represented two businesses in high-profile legal disputes about coronavirus precautions. Corporon represented C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen, a Castle Rock restaurant that was shut down by the state after it opened for dine-in eating on Mother’s Day, as well as Bandimere Speedway, which faced legal action from county health officials when a July 4 event saw large crowds and limited social distancing.
Corporon said Sunday that Denver police Chief Paul Pazen asked him to reschedule or move the pro-police rally, expressing concern that police officers would be put in harm’s way by the event.
“He was agitated that we’re going to get his officers hurt,” Corporon said. “My response to him was that he should allow his officers to do their job and if people are down there breaking the law, to stop them. Because they’ll have nothing to fear from us.”
Denver police spokesman Tyrone Campbell confirmed that police had been in touch with rally organizers about the event.
“I think the conversation was such that said, ‘We appreciate it, but if you’re doing it on our behalf, we don’t want you to do that. We absolutely appreciate the sentiment, we know there is public support. But in the event you are doing it to exercise your First Amendment right, then by all means we’ll make sure you have the space to do that,’ ” he said.
Corporon said the rally organizers decided not to move or reschedule the event, in part because it’s happened annually in Civic Center for five years.
“We’re exercising our constitutional right to peacefully assemble, and we have no intention of giving up that ground to these domestic terrorists,” Corporon said, referring to the counter-protesters. He added that he believes Pazen doesn’t support his own officers.
“This chief of police is the guy who walked hand-in-hand with Black Lives Matter,” he said, describing that movement as a push towards anarchy.
Campbell said Denver police have not called in any extra officers for Sunday afternoon’s events, but said officers would be on hand.
“In the event it becomes contentious we’ll absolutely do what we can to make sure everybody is safe,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re going to prevent one side from being heard or make sure one side is louder or anything like that. Our job is to make sure that everybody’s rights are respected and we ensure everyone’s safety.”