Denver PD Justify Violent Arrests After Officer Dumps Motorcycle

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On April 29, 2015, Denver protestors answered the call from Baltimore for marches in solidarity with the city’s ongoing Uprising. The protest ended up including several violent arrests in what could be described as a police riot. The Denver Police Department (DPD) claimed the violence from their officers that day was precipitated by a protestor who turned violent and assaulted an officer who was simply patrolling on his motorcycle.

The video below captures the moment in question from mere feet away. As you’ll see, the DPD officer riding his motorcycle appears to lurch forward and dump his bike to the side.

And though in a frame by frame analysis it becomes clear that the cyclist’s elbow doesn’t initiate or make any impactful contact with the officer, the angle isn’t ideal and there may be some incidental contact caused by the officer riding his motorcycle into the cyclist (check the angle of his motorcycle). The officers were aggressively pushing the demonstrators into two buses that blocked access to the sidewalk. The cyclist, as you can see, had nowhere to go, and as a cyclist was legally riding in the street. Indeed, it would have actually been illegal for him to ride on the sidewalk, where the DPD officers were trying to push him.

Immediately before this, another officer hit me with his motorcycle and blocked me from the sidewalk. Earlier in the protest another motorcycle riding officer turns his bike into and hits this same cyclist. Afterwards I asked the officer and he admits he did so intentionally. Throughout the protest officers were using their motorcycles in this manner, intentionally hitting us and even this same cyclist earlier on. The DPD, as usual, are the violent aggressors.

Embarrassed and rightly laughed at by protestors for his inability to handle his bike, the officer jumps up and leads a swarm of militarized officers over to make a series of violent arrests—including yours truly. Read more about that here.

The video plays at full speed and then repeats twice in slow motion. It is clear in the slowed down clips that the protestor’s arm doesn’t make significant contact with the officer. You can also see the officer jerk forward before he falls over. Other people told me afterwards that the rider behind this officer hit him and that’s what caused the fall. This seems likely given how closely they were riding together.

Local media (as usual) accepted the DPD’s official story prima facie, even running headlines that claimed they had video of a protestor “pushing” the officer off his motorcycle. Really they had grainy footage from a distant HALO camera that didn’t show anything clearly. Whatever you think about the potential incidental contact between the cyclist and the officer, this video shows clearly that the officer isn’t “pushed” and that the protestors didn’t “turn violent.”

The DPD also used the officer’s loss of control over their motorcycle to justify arresting nine of us in the vicinity, and to use pepper spray on protestors safely standing on the sidewalk – including a 12 year old child.

The cyclist was charged with a felony assault on an officer and had his case almost immediately dismissed. Another person in frame was charged similarly, though not with a felony, and also had his case dismissed. Some of the rest of us weren’t so lucky.

Protestors were angry, loud, and aggressively asserting our First Amendment rights while engaging in symbolic civil disobedience. The Supreme Court has upheld that cursing, angrily gesturing, and otherwise nonviolently expressing such anger is protected speech in the highest regard. The DPD’s actions only show their disdain for dissent and the First Amendment.

As is almost always the case at protests, nobody was violent except for the police. And in this case, all because one of them got embarrassed because he couldn’t handle his motorcycle.

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About Author

Jesse Benn is an independent media studies scholar, a writer, and an activist journalist. He holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Colorado and is currently taking a year off before beginning a Ph.D program. When he isn’t taking to the streets or pushing for radical societal change elsewhere he’s hanging out with his new daughter. He can be reached at: JesseBenn@mail.com.