Polis, Hancock condemn Trump’s threat of military force against protesters

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a May 15, 2020, appearance.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a May 15, 2020, appearance.
Marianne Goodland | Colorado Politics

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock rejected President Donald Trump’s warnings on Monday to send troops against demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd, language they say only fans the flames of unrest.

“There is no need for the deployment of US troops to maintain order in our city,” the pair wrote in a statement late Monday evening. “The President's threat to deploy federal troops is counterproductive and will only stoke the potential for worse violence and destruction.

“Denver is not Little Rock in 1957, and Donald Trump is not President Eisenhower,” the Democrats added. “This is a time for healing, for bringing people together, and the best way to protect civil rights is to move away from escalating violence.”

Trump, during a speech in the Rose Garden Monday afternoon, threatened to deploy “all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting." The president also told governors to call in the National Guard and establish “an overwhelming law enforcement presence.”

Moments before the president delivered his speech, protesters near the White House were forced away from a church with tear gas and flash-bang explosions. After his address, Trump walked to the church and stood for pictures.

Earlier that day, in a call with governors, Trump called them “weak” for failing to halt violent protests over the weekend. He also expressed support for a constitutional amendment criminalizing flag burning, which is protected under the First Amendment.

State leaders across the country, including the Democratic governors of Illinois, New York and Washington, have condemned the president’s rhetoric for potentially inflaming racial tensions.

National outrage was sparked following the death of Floyd, a black man, who was killed on Memorial Day after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes while three other police officers stood by.  

After four consecutive days of violent clashes between demonstrators and police officers in riot gear, nightly protests in Denver, which began Thursday, were largely peaceful for the first time Monday — the same day Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen marched arm-in-arm with protesters.

Only after midnight, three hours past the citywide curfew Hancock extended until 5 a.m. Friday, did Denver police officers fire tear gas to send the remaining protesters home.

This story is from Colorado Politics, a weekly news magazine and politics-news website. Used by permission.


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