Officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department stood in solidarity with peaceful protesters Monday morning.

PHOTOS: Protests in Colorado Springs.

A microphone was given to Sgt. Olav Chaney who commended protesters in Colorado Springs on Monday night. The crowd of about 100 held up two fingers, signaling the peace sign, and chanted "peaceful protest."

Chaney said to the crowd that sometimes officers do the wrong thing, but they took an oath to always strive to do the right thing.

"You guys did it right," Chaney said of the protesters, who only chanted and held signs during their rally as of 8:30 p.m. Monday.

"I have a family to go home to. He has a family to go home to," Chaney said while pointing at a man in the crowd. "I genuinely believe he's my brother," Chaney said with an arm around another man. 

For the third night, after protesting most of the day at City Hall and Acacia Park, the crowd marched to the Police Operations Center. Sgt. Olav Chaney came over to speak with the crowd and gave one of the protesters a hug, a move that resonated with the crowd. (June 1, 2020)

Some protesters fired back that officers can't be trusted and aren't good cops.

"I hear you, I understand you. But let's work together to make the right change," Chaney said.

RELATED:

Hundreds gather in Denver for 5th night of protests.

Colorado Springs police seek information on SUV that drove through protest crowd.

7:50 p.m.

Protesters began moving towards the Police Operation Center in downtown Colorado Springs where they were met with taped-off streets at East Rio Grande Street and South Nevada Avenue. Nine officers stood in the middle of the road, holding shields.

------------------------------------

Colorado Springs police officers kneeled alongside protesters downtown Monday as demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black Minnesota man, continued into the third day.

The department’s actions come as violent clashes with police persist elsewhere around the country, including in Louisville where a man protester was killed after an officer fired into the crowd in response to gunshots.

“We want to do the right thing. When we see injustice, we need to hold people accountable, we need to hold the system accountable,” said Colorado Springs police spokesman Sgt. Jason Newton, who was one of the four officers in attendance.

“So we need to be out here with them. We need to be saying this is what we stand for as a police department, as a community. We are in this fight together,” Newton said.

The officers joined more than 150 people, including young children, outside City Hall Monday morning. Several protesters held signs that read “White Silence = Violence,” and “No Justice, No Peace,” as they marched to the Pioneer’s Museum and back.

Mayor John Suthers said in an interview the use of force against Floyd was inappropriate, but the city did not ask officers to strike a conciliatory tone with protesters by kneeling. 

"It’s up to each individual officer how they want to interrelate with the protesters, as long as they doing their job," he said. 

Suthers said he supports how city police officers have handled the protests thus far, allowing demonstrators to march down city streets without a permit, but not tolerating threats to safety or property.

"When there is any danger to personal injury or property they have responded aggressively, in a nonlethal fashion," Suthers  said.

Sunday night protesters tagged city hall and buildings along Tejon Street with graffiti and city crews have already moved it. Some taggers were issued a summons by police Sunday, but Suthers did not say how many. 

The Colorado Springs Police Department does not yet have an estimate of the damage caused by protesters over the weekend, but it was "substantial" and included graffiti, broken police vehicle windows, as well as damage to public property, police spokeswoman Natashia Kerr said. The police arrested about 38 people Saturday and about nine people Sunday, she said. 

RELATED:

Colorado police investigating social media post from officer allegedly promoting riots.

Colorado Springs police chief issues statement on death of George Floyd.

VIDEO: Scenes from Colorado Springs protest.

Several drivers Monday honked in solidarity as protesters chanted “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” among other statements.

“We want to show a message to everybody in the world to know that we don’t always have to go with violence. We can fight with peace and with our words,” said Charles Johnson, one of the protest’s organizers.

Follow Gazette reporters Olivia Prentzel ( @oliviaprentzel ) and Chhun Sun ( @chhunsun ) on Twitter for updates.

Floyd died May 25 while in police custody. Images from his arrest show an officer kneeling on Floyd's neck. Reports show he told the officer, who has since been charged with 3rd degree murder, that he could not breathe.

Monday's show of support by the officers at Colorado Springs City Hall signified a change in the community, Johnson said, noting it was important for them “to come together with a community of minorities and different races, standing together as one.”

Maggie Santos, a campus safety director for Colorado College, said she attended to represent the school’s students who would have protested if they were still on campus. She handed out masks to attendees to help protect them from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that is still spreading around the state and country.

She said she was glad to see the officers with the protesters.

“It has to be this way,” said Santos, who is also a retired CSPD officer. “The police department isn’t above the community, it is from the community. We need to be together, we can’t be apart.”

Stephany Rose Spaulding urged the crowd to continue a dialogue about racial injustice.

“If we don’t address what is at the root, we will continue to have the bad fruit of racism, sexism, classism, and all of those things that divide us,” Spaulding said. “I call on you today to shift the way that you see and the way that you think, the way that you move and the way that we be together.”

The crowd marched down Nevada Avenue where they kneeled in front of 14 officers in riot gear outside the police headquarters, at 705 S. Nevada Ave. Police tape and concrete barricades prevented the crowd from going near the building.

Three officers stood closer to the crowd to answer questions, hand out business cards, shake hands with some of the demonstrators.

The crowd grew throughout the day, reaching a crowd of more than 250 people when it finished at City Hall at 4 p.m.

Organizers said another protest will begin tomorrow at noon in front of City Hall.

Gazette reporter Mary Shinn contributed to this report.

Reach Olivia at olivia.prentzel@gazette.com.

Twitter: @oliviaprentzel

Load comments