Six rioters were charged by Colorado district attorneys on Thursday with allegations stemming from anti-police demonstrations in June and July.
The demonstrations occurred following the death of George Floyd, who was killed during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers. However, Colorado demonstrations also protested the August, 2019, death of Elijah McClain, an African American man who died after being put in a choke hold by officers in Aurora. Several officers in the Aurora Police Department were fired on July 3, 2020, after photos surfaced in which the officers reenacted the choke hold near the site of McClain’s arrest.
Riots over the summer in Aurora included a July 3 incident in which demonstrators barricaded police inside a precinct building for seven hours.
Prosecutors charged Lillian House and Joel Northam, organizers for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, as well as Whitney Lucero with first-degree kidnapping in connection with the July 3 demonstration. The defendants “unlawfully and feloniously attempted to imprison or forcibly secrete 18 officers with the intent to force them or another person to make a concession to secure their release,” prosecutors said in a press release. The charges were brought by the district attorneys for Colorado’s 17th and 18th judicial districts, both of which are in the city of Aurora.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a communist party that “believes that the only solution to the deepening crisis of capitalism is the socialist transformation of society,” according to its website. House, Northam, and their party have led many of the demonstrations in Aurora and Denver over the summer, the Denver Post reported.
Another demonstrator facing felony charges for engaging in and inciting a riot, Terrance Roberts, is a leader of a group called the Front Line Party for Revolutionary Action.
Riots that began after the death of George Floyd have caused almost $2 billion in damages, according to a report from Axios, in the most expensive damage from civil unrest in U.S. history. U.S. Attorney General William Barr has called to prosecute rioters for sedition.