COLORADO SPRINGS — News5 watched on Wednesday night as a group of protesters out past the 10 p.m. curfew in Colorado Springs marched through parts of downtown without any conflict between themselves and police. On Thursday night, organizers hoped for a similar situation, but decided to direct people to go home shortly after 10 to avoid any potential problems with police.
Despite the city setting the 10 p.m. curfew, those who decided to continue marching on Wednesday did not face any repercussions. "We were out past curfew, and no one got pulled over, no one went to jail, no one got in trouble, the police didn't even set up a perimeter around us at all," said David Burke, one of the people responsible for keeping the protest under control.
During the day on Thursday, protesters marched to UCHealth to show their support for the woman who was struck by a vehicle on Wednesday evening. "We just want her to know that even though she got hurt, we're still here for her and she's not going to be forgotten," said Burke.
The protesters also held a memorial for George Floyd in Acacia Park at dusk, where candles were lit and balloons released.
One of the organizers, Larry Black, addressed the crowd, encouraging peaceful behavior from those marching. "Looters took advantage of a protest, rioters took advantage of a protest. The police, no matter what choices they made in the past, as I want to see you all go home to your family and your loved ones, I want to see them do the same thing. But the difference between us and them is, I can't take my skin color off at the end of the day," said Black, while speaking into a megaphone.
When 10 p.m. came on Thursday, a large group had gathered in Acacia Park. The organizers led the group for a short walk, and returned to Acacia Park a little after 10. Burke told News5 the group was a mix of protesters from both the day and evening, and it was larger than the previous night. Burke encouraged the protesters to head home when they got back to Acacia Park, because he said there were too many risk factors to try and repeat what they had done on Wednesday night. "We'd rather end on a safe note, with no bullets fired, no gas, none of that. Rather than have people be angry at everybody, not communicate, and have us end up hurt," said Burke.
Burke said organizers will meet to discuss a plan for Friday evening after 10 p.m. He also said they are scheduled to meet with city leaders on Friday morning, but the media is not invited to attend.
While speaking to the crowd, Black said he will not tell people how to protest, but he does not want the way some decide to do it to discredit the work that others are doing. He also called on the mayor to act, saying, "Mr. Mayor, I want you to know that I know you can move your thumbs, but I want you to move your feet brother. Silence is not justice, Mr. Mayor, you aren't out here with your people that you took office for supposedly to help. Your people are dying, your people are in pain, where you at?"
Mayor John Suthers provided News5 with this statement regarding the curfew and peaceful protests from Wednesday evening. The mayor did not have time for an in-person interview that afternoon.
I want to thank and recognize the protesters who peacefully communicated their message without violence and in a way that was considerate to their fellow citizens, our city, and our law enforcement yesterday and last evening. We implemented the curfew with the goal of encouraging continued peaceful activism, while discouraging the destructive and violent behaviors that were occurring later at night by another group who was less interested in sending a productive message. To me, it's a step toward productive dialogue and positive progress. I am especially appreciative to the leaders who worked hard to maintain peace and order among their group last night, as well as our law enforcement officers.
News5 also reached out to representatives from the Colorado Springs Police Department to learn how they are enforcing this curfew, as our crew watched some cop cars cruise by the groups as they walked on Wednesday night. However, no action was taken. News5 has not yet heard back from the police department, but hopes to answer questions about the curfew in the coming days.