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Body camera video shows removal of student from Colorado House chambers during protest

A student who Colorado State Patrol troopers say disobeyed orders was forcefully removed from the legislative viewing area. Students were there to speak out against gun violence
Posted at 4:49 PM, Apr 06, 2023

DENVER — Body-worn camera video from Colorado State Patrol troopers shows the removal of a student from the viewing area of the Colorado House chambers.

Students were there watching the meeting from public balcony-level seating overlooking the chambers after walking out of class in protest of recent gun violence on campuses in Colorado and beyond.

The incident, which happened on Wednesday, led to an investigation by House leaders, according to The Denver Post.

Officers got involved when one of the students stood up and began shouting about violence in schools. The body-worn camera video released Thursday picks up as security staff members were speaking to the students. One staff member can be heard in the difficult-to-decipher audio telling the students they can stay as long as they’re not disruptive.

Watch the body camera video below or in the video player above. Editor's note: What is published here is the entirety of one trooper's body camera recording of the incident. Denver7 edited the video to blur the faces of minors, and removed expletives and exchanges that identify students involved from the audio.

Body camera shows troopers remove student from Colorado House chambers

Colorado legislature rules prohibit “public displays or disruption,” including “verbal interruptions.”

A girl then stands up and shouts, “They’re trying to take away our First Amendment rights!” At that point, troopers told that student she needed to be removed from the chambers.

A student sitting between the officers and the girl was told he needed to move to make way for her to leave the viewing area.

“We need you to step up so we can get her out. We’re not asking you guys to leave, we need to pull her out,” a trooper says to the student. “If you refuse to get up, you’re going to be removed as well.”

The student didn’t move. Seconds later, troopers grab that student by the arm and hood of his jacket to remove him from the seats. An expletive-laden exchange ensues and troopers pick the student up by his arms and legs and carry him up the staircase to a concourse level outside of the chambers. The student claims several times that his jacket ripped during the confrontation.

A woman can be heard on the body camera video convincing troopers to escort the student out of the Capitol without further force.

North High School sophomore Keira Mulligan who recorded the incident on her phone said the student who was removed is her classmate.

"I guess it was kind of just my instinct to start recording because I see stuff like this on the news and on YouTube. I see this kind of stuff all the time," Mulligan said. "In my opinion, I really do think this was an injustice because they really weren't doing anything."

Mulligan said the student who started the disruption was escorted out, but physical force was not used.

"Basically this one girl did interrupt decorum who was a white student. So that's what makes us think this was kind of racially motivated. Because the Latino student who was dragged out, wasn't doing anything," Mulligan said.

Other North High students who participated in the protest at the capitol said the incident is an example of adults not listening to students.

"I just wish that someone would listen, and if they are listening to show it and approve it, because it feels like all of the work that we do just gets swept under the rug," Greta Chiodini, a sophomore at North High School said.

Nayeli Lopez, another sophomore at the school, said the incident calls into question the reinstatement of school resource officers in Denver Public Schools.

"It, you know, upset us, but it also kind of enraged us more to talk about. What are solutions to safety in schools, to safer schools? And just the interactions that we had with the security officers yesterday proved that SROs, or just armed officers in schools, were not going to do anything," Lopez said.

The student who was forcibly removed has not been publicly identified.

CSP spokesperson Master Trooper Gary Cutler told The Denver Post one student was removed from the Capitol and barred for the day, while others were only removed from the chambers. No one was arrested.

Cutler told the Post that protesters were being disruptive and not abiding by trooper orders.

Some lawmakers said the removal of the student included unnecessary force, according to the Post.

“Students are demanding we act to prevent gun violence, but they shouldn’t have to come to the Capitol to protest for their lives,” House Speaker Julie McCluskie, a Dillon Democrat, said in a statement obtained by the newspaper. “I am concerned with the response to the protest in the House Gallery. From what we have seen, it was clearly disproportionate to the students’ actions. We are calling for an investigation into the response and will take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening again, including review of the responsibilities, protocols and training for our sergeants at arms.”

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