As shock and outrage over George Floyd’s killing swept the nation over the weekend, even the luxurious streets of Vail Village were not insulated from pressure boiling over in the form of demonstrations.
A peaceful protest attracted about 50 people to Bridge Street on Sunday, with people in attendance holding signs that ranged from the familiar slogans of “Black lives matter” and “No justice no peace” to more specific messages like “White people … do something” and “I trust my local law enforcement. Everyone should have this right in America.”
Organizer Zach Varon said after he engaged in a solo protest on Saturday, he was encouraged to do something more organized on Sunday.
“It was really positive,” he said of his experience standing in front of Vail’s Covered Bridge on Saturday, holding a sign that said “stop killing and subjugating us.”
Varon said he didn’t know what to expect heading into Sunday. He said he was surprised to see such a large turnout.
“I never in my mind imagined we could have this kind of support,” he said.
Varon said the demonstration was about more than George Floyd, who died May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes while arresting Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill.
“This isn’t about any one person, this is an ongoing thing,” Varon said on Sunday.
Curfew in Denver through Monday
In Denver, protests began on Thursday and continued through Sunday. Following riots on Friday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a curfew, in effect for Denver residents from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Monday.
Hancock also requested the support of the Colorado National Guard, which Governor Jared Polis authorized on Saturday.
“Friday’s demonstrations against the senseless killing of George Floyd and far too many innocent black Americans before him began as a peaceful day time protest and unfortunately shifted into disorder late into the evening,” Polis said on Saturday. “It appears the disruptors that caused damage throughout the city were not necessarily the same peaceful protesters from the day time. Unfortunately, because of a few individuals who were more focused on causing unrest and damage rather than advocating for justice, people awoke to images of smashed out windows, graffiti, and the smell of tear gas.”
State Senate President Leroy Garcia, the only member of color on leadership in the Colorado General Assembly, warned of agitators who use protests to ignite chaos between protestors and police.
“Those seeking only to destruct and destroy should not be associated with those asking for change,” Garcia said. “With the recent announcement by the governor to deploy the National Guard, I must emphasize that their first priority should be the health and safety of those who choose to demonstrate. We cannot allow the militarization of our great state.”
‘I love my local cops’
In Vail, the group considered marching to the police station, but decided on a route down Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive instead.
The Vail demonstrators said while there is symbolism in demonstrating in front of a police building, in Vail they were more likely to be seen and heard on Bridge Street.
Also, protesters said, community policing in Vail and Eagle County does not appear to be a part of the larger problem across the United States.
And for some, that was the whole point of demonstrating.
“I love my local cops,” said one protestor on Sunday. “They’re really great people, I feel like there’s a partnership there. But not everybody in the country has that privilege.”