By Faith Miller
In response to late-night vandalism and confrontations between protesters and police, Mayor John Suthers has ordered Colorado Springs residents to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. starting June 3.
Protests in Colorado Springs against police brutality — following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Minneapolis security guard — began May 30 and have been mostly peaceful.
Protests kicked off nationally when Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Three other officers also pinned down Floyd. The entire incident was captured on video, sparking national outrage at police brutality against black people.
Colorado Springs has not escaped the unrest.
“Particularly during the daylight hours, folks have been organized, have been very peaceful, have been cooperative with the police trying to get them through intersections and things like that,” Suthers said at a news conference June 3. “…I’m very complimentary of the police exercising appropriate discretion to assist them in the process of exercising their First Amendment rights.”
The city has incurred tens of thousands of property damage from smashed windows and other vandalism, Suthers said. Protesters have thrown rocks, bottles, bricks and firecrackers at police officers.
Police have in some instances used 40mm rubber rounds and tear gas against protesters, and a video circulating on social media
appears to show officers hitting a man who is pinned on the ground.
Colorado Springs had so far resisted implementing a curfew like the ones in Denver and other major cities facing larger protests and more confrontations.
Under Suthers’ new order, the curfew will remain in effect each night through the morning of June 8.
“We are not doing this to discourage protests,” he said, explaining that most of the unlawful activity has been occurring after 10 p.m.
After 10 p.m., if people are still congregated, officers will “disperse the crowd,” Suthers said.
“I’m hoping that we’ll have compliance, but we’re not naive about it,” he said. “…We believe some people will probably violate the curfew.”
In regards to the video showing officers hitting a person on the ground, Suthers, like Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski, was hesitant to criticize the officers’ use of force.
“I would encourage folks to wait and see what the whole situation is and actually what the officers are trying to accomplish,” Suthers said “If a person is tightening up into a ball and is …being resistant to the police, they may be applying, they may be hitting certain muscles in the leg that cause you, by training, to unleash your body tension.”
Suthers says “particular incidents where [citizens] thought the police were using inappropriate force” will “absolutely be reviewed.”