Colorado leaders call for calm after violent protest

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DENVER | Leaders in Colorado called for calm and unity after protesters swarmed Denver Thursday, blocking traffic and smashing vehicles while running from gunfire and police tear gas during a demonstration against the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody.

Hundreds of demonstrators stood in the downtown streets and chanted outside the Colorado State Capitol, where protesters spray-painted graffiti and broke car windows. In other areas of downtown, police in riot gear fired gas canisters and used rubber bullets. The protest briefly spilled onto Interstate 25, until police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock both denounced the killing of George Floyd but said people should not resort to violence. Hancock said the Denver police department was not the enemy and appealed to people of all races to work together, especially in the midst of the pandemic.

“More than ever, we need to all pull together, because we can remake this world together, guided by equity and tolerance and justice,” he said.

Polis called it a “very sad night” for Colorado.

Earlier in the protest, gunfire outside the Capitol sent people running for cover but most of the protesters had already left the area.