PHOTOS: What 4 Days Of Protest Over George Floyd’s Death Looked Like In Denver

June 1, 2020

Across the United States, tens of thousands have taken to streets. In many major cities, the peaceful protests prompted by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer, have been overshadowed by unrest.

Some question, however, whether the tough response against demonstrators has made nightly chaos worse rather than serving to curb it.

This is what CPR News and Denverite photographers saw in the Mile High City over the last four days.

Thursday

At 5 p.m. in downtown Denver, a protest ignited by the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African American man who died while in the custody of a white police officer in Minneapolis, began peacefully.

Around 5:30 p.m., gunshots were fired near the Capitol, and tensions escalated into violence. Protesters blocked intersections downtown and stopped traffic on I-25. Denver Police deployed officers in riot gear.

Booms from pepper ball guns being shot at protesters and explosions alongside bright flashes were seen and heard, and smoke from chemical agents, including tear gas, made people cough and tear up through the night.

George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Protesters react to the killing of George Floyd by Commons Park. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Protesters on 20th Street march in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Protesters and police clash in downtown Denver during a demonstration against the death of George Floyd on Thursday, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
A little kid presses her nose against a window as she watches protesters marching in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver ProtestHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters enraged by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer clashed with police in downtown Denver Thursday night, May 28, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Riot police ride past the Capitol as protesters react to the killing of George Floyd. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A policeman in riot gear holds a gun as protesters react to the killing of George Floyd. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Denver police aim paintball guns filled with pepper balls as protesters react to the killing of George Floyd by the state Capitol. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A woman pours milk on her face after Denver police hit her with pepper spray at close proximity during protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A trashcan at the corner of Broadway and Colfax Avenue burns as protesters react to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. May 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Friday

Before a second planned protest over the death of George Floyd took place, Mayor Michael Hancock urged Denver residents to practice peaceful protesting.

Police chief Paul Pazen said 13 people were arrested for things like burglary and criminal mischief, while three police officers were injured as they clashed with protesters near the state Capitol Thursday night. One officer was hospitalized after being struck by a rock.

Between noon and 2 p.m. on Friday, there was no tear gas or pepper bullets, though 11 police officers were standing by — far away from the crowd — in riot gear.

The protest turned from peaceful to chaotic at the hands of people who had arrived after the march, seemingly wanting to fight with police. Around 7 p.m., Denver Public School board member Tay Anderson, who had been leading a peaceful march, was at the downtown jail encouraging anyone who had arrived at the protest to instigate fights with the police to leave.

“This is not what we wanted,” an exasperated Anderson said. “This is not what Black people wanted.”

George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took to the streets for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020. School board member Tay Anderson was among those leading the protest. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took to the streets chanting with signs for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took to the streets chanting with signs for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took to the streets chanting with signs for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took to the streets chanting with signs for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took to the streets chanting with signs for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Protesters at the Denver City and County Building demonstrating against the death of George Floyd on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Protesters in downtown Denver demonstrating against the death of George Floyd on Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Protesters marched Friday, rallying against police brutality and calling on the police involved in George Floyd's death to be charged with murder. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Protesters gather in the Greek Amphitheatre in Civic Center Park in a rally against police brutality and calling on the police involved in George Floyd's death to be charged with murder. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A state trooper aims a weapon at protesters from a Capitol balcony. May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A man uses a road work sign as cover while police fire tear gas across Colfax Avenue near the state Capitol. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Protesters run as Denver Police officers deploy several cans of tear gas on Colfax Avenue. May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Protesters atop a vehicle on Lincoln Street. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver police fire projectiles across Colfax Avenue into a crowd on the west lawn of the state Capitol. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 2Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Officers in gas masks move up 15th Street in front of the Colorado Supreme Court in a cloud of tear gas. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a second day Friday, May 29, 2020 (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Denver Police officers in riot gear walk onto block around the Capitol as they fill the lawn with tear gas to push protesters away. May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A tear gas canister left after Denver Police officers filled the entire block with the gas to disperse protesters. May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Tear gas from Denver Police officers' offensive on protesters floats east over the Capitol. May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Denver Police officers in riot gear aim paintball guns loaded with pepper balls toward protesters. May 29, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Saturday

For the third day in a row, protesters again hit Denver streets to draw attention to police brutality.

The official gathering was scheduled for noon in front of the Colorado Capitol, and like protests on Thursday and Friday, confrontations between protesters and police escalated at night.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Hancock had imposed an 8 p.m. citywide curfew, and the Colorado National Guard had been deployed to different sites across the city.

During the day, protesters marched downtown and staged a “die-in” while chanting “I can’t breathe.” As night fell and the curfew approached, confrontations between the police and protesters grew more and more heated.

George Floyd Denver Protest Day 3Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer entered a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Protest Day 3Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer entered a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Protest Day 3Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer entered a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
A huge march walks downtown on the third day of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver Protest Day 3Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer entered a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Protest Day 3Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer entered a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Protesters lie "dead" chanting, "I can't breathe," for nine minutes on day three of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver Protest Day 3Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer entered a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Protesters lie "dead" chanting, "I can't breathe," for nine minutes on day three of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A huge march walks downtown on the third day of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A man in a mask led a huge march with a smoke bomb on the third day of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 3 NightHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Atop a graffiti-strewn stone wall, a group watches demonstrators and police clash on Colfax Avenue. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
A man spraypaints plywood covering the Denver Post building on the third day of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 3 NightHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Police armed with non-lethal weapons secure a line on Colfax and Lincoln. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 3 NightHart Van Denburg/CPR News
A short time after authorities declared an 8 p.m. curfew, demonstrators were cleared from Colfax Avenue. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 3 NightHart Van Denburg/CPR News
The statue commemorating Colorado war dead at the Capitol is defaced with graffiti. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
George Floyd Denver Police Protest Day 3 NightHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Police armed with non-lethal weapons secure a line on Colfax and Lincoln. Denver protesters angry about the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer took the the streets for a third day Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
A woman holding a sign outside of Denver Police District Six headquarters on Washington Street disappears into a cloud of tear gas. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Firefighters deal with a dumpster fire on 14th Avenue. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A medic treats a man still crying from tear gas. May 30, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Sunday

Protesters and volunteers returned to the State Capitol Sunday to clean up after another night of unrest in Denver.

Protesters marched their way around downtown, visiting the Capitol, the amphitheater in Civic Center Park and the Denver Performing Arts Center. At about 4 p.m., they formed a prayer circle back at the Capitol.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said that police made more than 80 arrests Saturday night, mainly for curfew violation, but also for assault, destruction of property, criminal mischief and felony weapons violations.

Denver Health reported that 45 people needed medical attention during the protest Saturday night.

As curfew fell at 8 p.m on Sunday., hundreds of people still filled the lawn and street beneath the Capitol, and police in riot gear again used teargas and other chemicals to disperse them.

Hundreds of protesters march in Denver on Sunday, May 31, 2020. (Carl Glenn Payne, Special to Denverite)
Protesters march in Denver on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Protesters at the Capitol building in Denver on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
People rest beneath the gold dome of the Capitol building. Sunday's protests started before noon and were peaceful as curfew approached. (John Daley/CPR News)
Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite
Protesters calling for police accountability in the wake of George Floyd’s death march along Emerson Street on Sunday, May 31, near downtown Denver, after the city's 8 p.m. curfew went into effect. (Esteban Hernanez / Denverite)
Scenes from the fourth day of police brutality protests in downtown Denver on May 31, 2020. (John Daley / CPR News)
Scenes from the fourth day of police brutality protests in downtown Denver on May 31, 2020. (John Daley / CPR News)

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