AURORA | Mayor Mike Coffman has called a special Aurora City Council meeting for Tuesday, June 30, to question the police department’s response to rallies held over the weekend calling for justice for Elijah McClain.
“We are hearing many questions and concerns from the community about the tactics used by the Aurora Police Department during Saturday’s protests, and council needs to hear first-hand specifically what happened,” Coffman said in statement. “The tragic death of Elijah McClain brought out many peaceful people over the weekend who want their voices heard, and unfortunately there were disruptions that overshadowed the broader message. I look forward to working with City Council to understand more and make sure we are upfront and transparent with our residents.”
In a tweet, police said they deployed pepper spray after protesters threw rocks and bottles at officers and attempted to further break down a barricade separating the crowd from Aurora police headquarters. Officers also fired at least four rounds of 40mm foam projectiles at protestors as officials attempted to clear the lawn in front of city hall, according to a department spokesperson. Officials are still reviewing video footage of the event to confirm exactly how many munitions were fired.
Two people were arrested at the rally.
The police department has repeatedly said in tweets it did not deploy tear gas, although many attendees of the rally called foul on social media after a video has surfaced of police lobbing a smoking canister into a crowd at one point.
“The device in that video is a smoke canister. It is filled with smoke and NO irritants. It is used to help encourage people to move away to a safer location,” Aurora police detective Faith Goodrich confirmed to the Sentinel. “I can’t tell from the video who deployed the canister. It will be documented in the reports which aren’t all available at this time.”
Some city council members attended and observed the rally.
“I’m not convinced we’re doing the right thing right now,” Councilperson Juan Marcano said as tensions between protestors and police slowly amped up later in the afternoon. “Especially the agitators, they need a target. And if you have two rows of folks out here in turtle gear, that’s the target.”
The special city council meeting will be aired on auroratv.org or on Comcast Channels 8 and 880 in Aurora at 5:30 p.m.
— Sentinel Reporter Quincy Snowdon contributed to this report