Denver protest over George Floyd's death leads to confrontation

Initially peaceful demonstration leads to melee

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A demonstration in downtown Denver late Thursday over a death of a black man at the hands of police in Minneapolis evolved into a melee, with gunshots, police tear gas, blocked traffic and vandalism.

The Associated Press reported that the protest at the state Capitol was initially peaceful, but as the evening wore on, hundreds of demonstrators swarmed onto city streets, and briefly blocked Interstate 25. "Police in riot gear fired gas canisters, used rubber bullets and walked in a phalanx through the streets to drive protesters away," the AP reported.

At Denverite, David Sachs reported that "tension escalated into violence" as gunfire was heard near the Capitol.

It was unclear if the shots were related to the protest, Sachs said. But state Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, later told Denverite that the shots were fired into the crowd.

Police reported no arrests as of Friday morning.

Protests broke out in Denver and other cities in response to the death of George Floyd, who died Monday while in police custody in Minneapolis. Video shot by a bystander showed an officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes despite his protests that he couldn't breathe.

Four Minneapolis officers were fired after the incident. Floyd's family has called for murder charges.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called for calm in a tweeted video. “I certainly understand everyone’s frustration and sense of pain and disgust following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” he said, "but I want to plead to everyone. Let’s demonstrate, but let’s demonstrate peacefully. Leave the weapons home.”

The Colorado General Assembly canceled its scheduled Friday and Saturday sessions in the wake of the protest, Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics reports.

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