‘It’s Time For Black People To Be Heard:’ Colorado Springs Community Organizer On Protesting

June 16, 2020
Bryan Oller/KRCC News
Kevin Mitchell, a community organizer, speaking at a protest event on Thursday, June 11.

City Council convenes Tuesday to continue discussions on forming an advisory committee for the Colorado Springs Police Department. Kevin Mitchell is a community organizer and member of the Empowerment Solidarity Network, one of the groups coordinating protest efforts in the city.

KRCC’s Elena Rivera spoke with Mitchell about his experiences over the past few weeks. Mitchell led chants and spoke at last Thursday's funeral procession remembering people in Colorado Spring killed by police. 

Highlights from the interview

What has protesting been like for you over the past few weeks?

It has been emotional, as a black man, the trauma of having to watch black people slaughtered by the police. I'm happy that people were standing up. I'm happy to see people finally just tired of it. I'm sad of the cause, you know, I'm sad that somebody has to die for people to act.

"Nothing we do will bring back George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Trayvon or Tamir or Sandra [or] Philando."

Nothing we do will bring back George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Trayvon or Tamir or Sandra [or] Philando. Nothing we do will bring them back.

What did community support look like before this moment? Do you feel like people did speak out? Are you surprised at all about how many people are speaking out now? 

I'm from Texas, from the South, you know, and I've experienced my whole life just being black. So no, honestly what would have surprised me is people caring and the powers that be really doing some stuff. I think the handling has been bs.

The mayor is all, "Thanks for the peaceful protests," blah blah. That is not enough. You can't say we cool but at the same time put on riot gear later and you know, shoot rubber bullets and gas canisters at protesters. 

What are you hoping for in terms of progress? 

What I like to see is black people stop being killed. I'd like to see black people being able to live in peace. I'd like to see black people be able to drive through their city without anxieties. I like to see our little black kids be able to play peacefully without having to be trained on what to do when they go outside.

"It's time for black people to be heard and to be heard clearly, and our demands to be met."

It's not even about me being an activist. I got that label, people call me that, but in reality what choice do I have as a black man, not to stand up for myself? I'm in danger whether I call myself an activist or not. So I'm just personally looking for some peace for myself, for all black people.

We're beautiful people and, you know, we built this country on our backs. For free. We deserve better than we're getting, and we deserve peace. We deserve to be treated as human beings and be left alone, and not brutalized by batons, guns, tear gas, and mace. It's time for black people to be heard and to be heard clearly, and our demands to be met.