Thousands of people turned out in Denver to march for justice in the police killing of 23-year-old, Elijah McClain.
The impassioned crowd filled the Aurora municipal center with chants and tears demanding justice for the young man who was walking home wearing a ski mask last August.
The day-long protest event began with a 1 p.m. rally and march followed by a 4 p.m. youth-led protest. At 8:30 p.m., eight violinists gathered in a circle, playing beautiful, soft melodies. McClain was known to play the violin for animals in a local shelter.
McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain, Denver school board member, Tay Anderson, and Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod all spoke on the steps of City Hall. According to The Denver Post, which covered the event, the audience listened attentively to the speakers and remained engaged.
As the day wore on, Denver police alleged that some protesters started throwing rocks and bottles and confirmed to the paper that they had used pepper spray to subdue the crowd. All government buildings were boarded up before the protest.
Naomi McClain, Elijah’s sister, told The Denver Post that it was good to see so many people out to remember Elijah. “I’m here for my brother. He was special. He was gentle. He walked away from arguments,” she said. She said that she hopes that those responsible for his death are arrested.
McClain was stopped by police walking home while wearing a ski mask on August 24, 2019. An Aurora, Colorado resident called 9-1-1 to report a “suspicious” person. However, the caller told the dispatcher that they didn’t feel like anyone was in danger.
Officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema stopped McClain who protested saying, “I am going home. … Leave me alone,” and “Let me go. No, let me go. I am an introvert. Please respect my boundaries that I am speaking.”
Police utilized a chokehold to detain the young man, and an ambulance was called. Emergency personnel administered ketamine in an attempt to sedate him. He suffered a heart attack and died seven days later in a local hospital.
The district attorney chose not to prosecute the officers. However, public pressure last week prompted Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, appointed Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser as a special prosecutor to investigate McClain’s death.
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