Tay Anderson wanted Friday’s protest against police brutality in Denver to be peaceful.
“We asked people throughout the day, please do not deface property, please do not destroy stuff, because we’re not asking you to do that,” Anderson, a Denver school board director and activist, told BuzzFeed News.
Still, with hundreds taking to the streets for the second day of demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer put him in a knee chokehold, there was vandalism and clashes with Denver police, who fired tear gas and flash-bangs into the crowd.
In a video that has been shared online widely, Anderson, who is black, is seen confronting a white man with a cloth covering on his face after the man spray-paints “ACAB” — “all cops are bastards” — on public property.
Anderson said he was doing a news interview when he saw the man vandalizing, so he turned around and tried to stop him.
“I said, ‘We asked allies to step back so that we can make sure that you’re following what we’re asking you to do,'” he recalled. “And he was like, ‘I’m not your ally, you guys want to protect the status quo. I don’t need to be here for you all'”.
Anderson said there were “several people” who were behaving like that at the protest, some of whom he believed are “right-wing conservative individuals who just don’t give a damn about black and brown people, or want to make this movement look bad”.
“It wasn’t black and brown folks that were antagonizing police. It was white people throwing stuff at them,” he said. “And then when they kept throwing bags of urine, cans, and water bottles, that’s when the police snapped and they started tear-gassing innocent bystanders.”
Denver police spokesperson Kurt Barnes told BuzzFeed News the department’s tactics on crowd management “depends upon the severity of the response from the people in the crowd, and based on that it depends on whether the officers feel their lives are threatened”.
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