Opposing immigration protests end peacefully at Aurora GEO prison


AURORA | Dueling immigration protests at the Aurora GEO-ICE detention center were noisy but otherwise uneventful Saturday as dozens of police worked to separate opposing factions and keep the peace.

Police said there were no incidents or arrests among the two protesting factions.

“Today’s (protest) was a prime example of how everyone can safely and peacefully assemble regardless of their views,” Aurora police said in a tweet after the event ended about 4 p.m.

About 100 anti-ICE protesters walked for a few hours along East Colfax Avenue about eight miles to the Aurora prison from Denver’s City Park, arriving about 2 p.m. There were about another 100 pro-ICE supporters at the protest site.

Police have worked for days to separate protesters who support ICE, the prison and President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and protesters who want to abolish ICE and close the Aurora detention center.

Police were strategically spread across the area, with armed officers on top of several buildings.

In a blog post, earlier this week, Aurora police released a lengthy list of instructions and logistics regarding the planned protest in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility on Oakland Street.

The plan appears to have been a success.

A group of ICE supporters, including Republican state Sen. Patrick Neville and Colorado Springs-based Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, planned the pro-ICE rally to stand in solidarity with ICE officials, dubbing the event, “Stand with ICE.”

A cadre of other activists, who oppose the federal entity’s detention practices, marched to the prison from Denver and  rallied at a separated area at the same time.

Earlier in the day, Police chief Nick Metz tweeted out a photo of dozens of police preparing for the event in a warehouse.

The protest comes on the heels of a Thursday night protest at the neighborhood and home of Johnny Choates, who is the top official of The GEO Group immigrant detention facility in Aurora. That protest was largely peaceful but noisy. Three protesters were ticketed for trespassing or disturbance allegations.

All of this comes some two months after another testy protest at the Aurora detention facility, which is managed by The GEO Group, that boasted some 2,000 attendees and drew national scorn.

At one point during the gathering, a small group of rogue protestors moved past a feeble barricade and removed a trio of flags and banners from the center’s flag poles. Protestors later raised a Mexican flag, a desecrated “thin blue line” flag, and a banner that read “f**k the cops.”

Following the protest in mid-July, Police Chief Nick Metz lamented GEO and ICE officials’ use of plastic chain to deter protestors from loitering on the Aurora property instead of previously recommended water-filled drums.

Authorities have since reinforced fencing around the facility.

In late July, Aurora police cited a 37-year-old Lakewood woman for criminal tampering during the protest.