Every week night since June 1, from 5 to 6 p.m., a group of residents has been gathering at City Hall for a peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality. The effort is one of …
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Every week night since June 1, from 5 to 6 p.m., a group of residents has been gathering at City Hall for a peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality.
The effort is one of countless protests taking place across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police officers during an arrest on May 25.
Since then, protesters like those in Arvada have been calling for a vast array of possible solutions to a pattern of racial inequality, particularly as it relates to police use of force.
In Arvada, the main solutions brought up by those who protested at City Hall June 8 included finding ways that law enforcement personnel could be held more accountable for their actions and starting more conversations about ending systemic racism.
“It's about how we can be even better and be a model for other smaller municipalities,” said resident Jessica Scobel. “If all the small municipalities are accountable, it'll just become a cultural norm. We'll actively engage in a way that's antiracist and safe for all people.”
The daily protests were first organized by resident PJ Travin and his wife, with the first protest consisting of the couple, their son and a second family that Travin's family lives with.
“We didn't see any action happening in Arvada and that was frustrating for us,” Travin said. “We have a black son and he's three years old. We wanted to see action.”
It didn't take long for the effort to gain more momentum as Travin connected with resident Alisha Fleming, who was using Facebook to organize her own effort. Together, they have created a Facebook group called Arvadans for Equality and Social Advocacy, which had 76 members as of June 9.
At the protest that occurred June 5, Travin said more than 40 people were in attendance.
The group has included a broad range of Arvada community members, from parents to children, from those who live in Arvada to those who work in Arvada. Karey Sutton, for instance, is a Golden resident and Arvada teacher who has been attending the protests to show her students how to take action against injustice.
“We have to change what we can in the three feet around us,” she said. “It is white people's job to fight racism.”
Resident Katie Berger agreed, thinking to the inequality of experiences based on a person's skin color and a friend who has told her that, because he is black, he often worries about being profiled and treated unfairly even during everyday tasks like grocery shopping.
“That's something I don't have to deal with as a white person,” Berger said. “There's a lot of systemic racism in this country that's been going on too long.”
In addition to their broader cause, the protesters are going to draft a list of action items to be collaborated on with the city government. The group had plans to outline those action items by June 12.
Travin added that a friend of a friend started a similar effort in Wheat Ridge just a week after the Arvada protests began and the two groups plan to connect on their agendas.
At the time of a June 8 interview, the Arvada group was also organizing for city councilmembers to attend the protest and hear from residents, Travin said.
The Arvada protests have been set to continue through at least June 12. Those interested can learn more by visiting the Arvadans for Equality and Social Advocacy Facebook page.
But even when the protests end, protesters said they plan to continue working for tangible action in their community.
“This is about loving our neighbors,” Scobel said, “and that extends to all of our neighbors.”
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