Aurora police prepare for protests led by liberal, conservative groups at GEO facility Saturday

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AURORA | Police are preparing for a possibly contentious protest outside of an Aurora immigration detention facility Sept. 21, according to information released by the Aurora Police Department Thursday afternoon. 

In a blog post, 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.

A group of ICE supporters, including Republican state Sen. Patrick Neville and Colorado Springs-based Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, are planning on standing in solidarity with ICE officials Saturday at an event deemed “Stand with ICE.” A cadre of other activists, who oppose the federal entity’s detention practices, are expected to occupy an area outside of the same facility at the same time. 

Police have instructed “Pro-ICE groups” to stand in a designated area near East 33rd Avenue and Oakland Street, while “Anti-ICE groups” have been told to protest near East 30th Avenue and Oakland.

Police are preparing to patrol the event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Last weekend, ICE officials told reporters they plan to monitor social media activity of anticipated attendees in the days leading up to the event.

The police directives come 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.

Attendees seeking live updates from the event Sept. 21 are encouraged to text “APDINFO” to 474747.

The city will be placed on accident alert from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday in an effort to triage resources, police said. Aurora drivers involved in traffic incidents involving injuries, hit-and-run, suspected DUI, lack of insurance or inoperable vehicles are encouraged to call 303-627-3100 for a response. Otherwise, traffic accident reports should be completed online. 

APD will only respond to in-progress calls where life is in danger, and all other calls for service will potentially have significantly extended wait times for a response,” police wrote. “We understand this is frustrating, but we appreciate your patience.”

The planned protest is scheduled two days after ICE opponents planned a demonstration outside of the south Aurora home of Johnny Choate, warden of the GEO facility in Aurora. 

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a Republican who decried the actions of protestors at the July demonstration, issued a statement warning protestors to remain within their constitutional rights at the upcoming rallies. 

“No person in our community should feel intimidated through criminal behavior into not exercising their rights, whether that be to express themselves, or to pursue lawful employment,” Brauchler said in a statement. “Where there is fear and lawlessness, freedom is diminished. I respectfully, but strongly encourage everyone to gather and express themselves, whatever their views may be, in a manner consistent with the law and decency.”