Demonstrators were marching Friday evening from the site of Aurora police officers’ violent apprehension of Elijah McClain last summer to the department’s headquarters, where last weekend riot police used pepper spray as they pushed out protesters.
The march followed the announcement by interim police Chief Vanessa Wilson that she had fired three officers, including two who posed for a photo reenacting a chokehold near a memorial to McClain, and a third officer who received the picture mocking the 23-year-old’s death.
That officer, Jason Rosenblatt, was one of the three involved in McClain’s death, though he previously had been cleared of wrongdoing.
Rashad Williams said he lives down the street from where McClain, who’d committed no crime, was stopped by police responding to a report of a suspicious person.
“I’m here because Black lives matter and Elijah McClain matters,” he said. “It could have been me. It has to stop.”
He also said he was sickened by the photo of the Aurora police officers reenacting the chokehold used on McClain. “It’s hard to imagine people don’t have empathy or compassion for a life lost, to make fun of a life lost.”
Friday evening’s march comes as McClain’s death last August — after being put in a chokehold by police and injected with the heavy sedative ketamine by paramedics — has become part of the national push for racial justice and police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
In recent weeks, Gov. Jared Polis has tapped the state’s attorney general to investigate the death and the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office for Colorado and the Department of Justice have publicly acknowledged they’ve been reviewing the case since last year to determine whether a federal civil rights investigation is warranted.
The city of Aurora is also preparing to hire a new third-party investigator to relaunch its independent probe of the department’s actions.
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