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Colorado rallies for Jayland Walker, demands community control of police

By staff

Denver, CO – A crowd of about 30 people gathered at the Colorado State Capitol on Saturday, July 30, in solidarity with the people in Akron, Ohio and the family of Jayland Walker. Participants included victims of police crimes and their families in the Denver area. Protesters demanded the indictment of the eight Akron Police Department officers who murdered Jayland Walker, an immediate investigation into Akron PD by the Department of Justice, and community control of police through a civilian police accountability council.

The event uplifted voices of the victims of police crimes and their families who come from various 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 about how Denver PD beat him to a coma on November 11, 2005. He was stopped on the street by DPD officers for “suspicious activity.” He was placed in handcuffs as his wallet and other items were taken by police. He was later beaten and tased by six to eight police officers for over 30 minutes. He was beaten across his head, face, chest, arms and genitals so severely 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 tried to escape, only to be beaten again. He was placed in a medically-induced coma, which Armstrong says was “so that I’d forget what they did to me.” Folks 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 folks to organize against police brutality.

Next, a cousin of Paul Castaway, Donny, shared the story of his cousin. Paul Castaway was an indigenous man struggling with schizophrenia murdered by Denver police officer Michael Traudt on July 12, 2015. On that day, Paul was dealing with the news that a member of his family was recently diagnosed with leukemia. While the police and the district attorney claimed this was a case of so-called “suicide by cop,” Donny and his family reject this narrative. They say that more could have been done to safely help Castaway through his mental health crisis and are still seeking justice from DPD and the city.

Ari LeDoux of the Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee shared her experiences with Denver police, which had a profound effect on the crowd. LeDoux described how Jayland Walker’s murder and the murder of other Black and brown people by police remind her of the violence that her family have experienced for generations. She remarked, “You may only see the one brown face on the news, but I see the mothers, the fathers, the siblings, cousins, friends, classmates, I see the sheer pain eroding from their eyes, the way their bodies shake, shoulders crumble, 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 shaking because their pain is a reflection of mine. Their loss is a reflection of mine.”

The action was organized by the newly-formed Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee, and cosponsored by Students for a Democratic Society, Young Communists League, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Throughout the speeches, folks in the crowd chanted things like, “Cops and Klan go hand in hand!” and “When killer cops are on patrol, what do we want? Community control!” Organizers with DACAC and their coalition partners will continue to struggle against police brutality by organizing for a civilian police accountability council in Denver, Aurora, and the surrounding metro area.

#DenverCO #PoliceBrutality #CommunityControlOfThePolice #JaylandWalker