A group that works to further racial justice marched Thursday morning from Denver’s Central Library to Mayor Michael Hancock’s office, showing solidarity with communities across the country that are reeling from recent police shootings. The group also marched to express its disappointment in Denver’s police department.
After reaching the mayor’s office, event organizer Reverend Ann Dunlap presented the mayor’s office with a petition listing the group’s demands for greater transparency and accountability in the police force, along with 2,500 supportive signatures from Denver residents. The petition was directed toward Mayor Hancock, Chief of Police Robert White, and Safety Manager Stephanie O’Malley.
Among the demands: a call for increased transparency, a repeal of Denver’s urban camping ban, and “divestment” from weaponry and increased investment in “community building”.
Dunlap briefly spoke in the mayor’s office and personally delivered the petition to Hancock’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Evan Dreyer. “We demand an end to police and other state violence against black and brown people,” Dunlap said. “We echo the call from black organizers for transformation of policing in our society, so that policemen no longer serve as agent[s] of racist oppression.”
SURJ Denver, which stands for “Showing Up for Racial Justice — Denver” is a local chapter of a national network of groups that organize white people for racial justice, according to the group’s Facebook page. Earlier this summer, the chapter staged a protest at Denver Police Headquarters under a banner that read, “Under Construction Until Black Lives Matter.”
One of their guiding principles is that white people are often subject to less retaliation than people of color when they engage in direct action with decision makers.
Referring to the incident at the police headquarters, Dunlap said,”that was definitely about white bodies being in that place…we want to be able to use the access that we have [as white people].”
About 10 police officers were present at the mayor’s office Thursday while the group stated their case. Dunlap later said that she suspected a few individuals who had shown up for the march to be officers in plainclothes.
“You can just kinda tell sometimes,” Dunlap said. “I don’t think they were part of our group, but they were definitely around when we were doing our thing.”
Dreyer struck a conciliatory tone after receiving the demands. “We heard them we will take a look at them, and we will get them a response,” Dreyer said.
Photo Credit: Daniel Sauvé