Denver, CO – A crowd of approximately 30 gathered at the Colorado State Capitol on Saturday, July 30, in solidarity with the residents of Akron, Ohio and the family of Jayland Walker. Attendees included victims of police crimes and their families in the Denver area. Protesters demanded the charging of the eight Akron Police Department officers who murdered Jayland Walker, an immediate investigation into Akron PD by the Justice Department, and community oversight of policing through a council of liability of the civil police.
The event raised the voices of victims of police crime and their families who come from diverse communities who face the brunt of racist police brutality, including African American, Chicano and Indigenous nationalities.
Thomas “TC” Armstrong, a black man, shared his story of how the Denver PD beat him to a coma on November 11, 2005. He was arrested on the street by DPD officers for “activity suspicious”. He was handcuffed while his wallet and other items were confiscated by the police. He was then beaten and shocked by six to eight police officers for more than 30 minutes. He was beaten in the head, face, chest, arms and genitals so badly that he wanted to die. So he tried to play dead, hoping the cops would stop. He was placed in a body bag and taken to University of Denver Hospital, where he attempted to escape, only to be beaten again. He was placed in a medically induced coma, which Armstrong said was “so that I forget what they did to me.” People at his local church call him “Lazarus” after “coming back from the dead”. After a series of lawsuits gone wrong, Thomas “TC” Armstrong is still seeking justice and encouraging people to organize against police brutality.
Next, a cousin of Paul Castaway, Donny, shared his cousin’s story. Paul Castaway was a Native American with schizophrenia who was murdered by Denver police officer Michael Traudt on July 12, 2015. That day, Paul learned that a family member had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. While police and the district attorney claimed it was a so-called “suicide by a cop”, Donny and his family dismiss this account. They say more could have been done to safely help Castaway through his mental health crisis and still demand justice from DPD and the city.
Ari LeDoux of the Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee shared his experiences with Denver police, which had a profound effect on the crowd. LeDoux described how the murder of Jayland Walker and the killing of other black and brown people by police reminds her of the violence her family has endured for generations. She remarked: “You may only see one brown face on the news, but I see the mothers, fathers, siblings, cousins, friends, classmates, I see the pain pure eroding from their eyes, the way their bodies shake, shoulders slump, the screams, I can feel it all In their eyes I see my mother’s eyes, my father’s shoulders, I feel my own bones tremble because their pain is a reflection of mine, their loss is a reflection of mine.
The action was organized by the new Community Action Committee of Denver-Aurora and co-sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society, the Communist Youth League and the socialist Freedom Road organization.
Throughout the speeches, people in the crowd chanted things like, “The cops and the Klan go hand in hand!” and “When killer cops are on patrol, what do we want?” Community control! DACAC organizers and their coalition partners will continue to address police brutality by hosting a civilian police accountability council in Denver, Aurora and the surrounding metro area.