Protesters, officers take a knee together at Colorado Springs city hall

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Of the many things chanted in front of the Colorado Springs Police Operations Center Sunday night was “take a knee, we will leave.”

“This started with a knee, end it a knee,” one person shouted, referring to the hold a Minneapolis police officer used on George Floyd, ultimately resulting in his death.

Colorado Springs police Sgt. Olva Chaney, an officer that has become somewhat of a liaison between protest leaders and police messages, told protestors that taking a knee in riot gear left officers vulnerable and they couldn’t do that.

As the third day of protests began Monday morning in front of City Hall, four officers with the police department took a knee with some of the leaders of the group.

“It shows a statement,” said Charles Johnson, one of the leading speakers in the movement Monday. “We can all come together as one if you truly believe in what you believe in.”

The officers helped in traffic control as protestors walked south from City Hall to the Pioneers Museum and back. Upon the return, where more people were waiting, officers took a picture on the step, among signs of “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd.”

The support from the four officers is part of a disjointed response some protestors complained about, criticizing Police Chief Vince Niski’s statement and lack of presence.
Sunday night at around 10 p.m., Chaney read a statement over a megaphone that struggled to overpower the chatter of hundreds in the crowd.

“I am not in a position to sit in judgment of another law enforcement organization or their employees. From what I have seen and what I know about use of force procedures the actions of the police in Minneapolis were questionable and tragic.” the statement said in part.

Mayor John Suthers condemned the protests, saying he “doesn’t know anybody who says it’s an important use of force to kneel on somebody’s neck.”

Suthers defended the city’s chief of police.

“Chief Niski has done a very good job communicating with his officers, that’s primarily what he’s involved,” Suthers said, “He’s done an outstanding job in managing this potentially volatile situation.”

Suthers commended police for allowing protesters to express their First Amendment rights.

“The police are with them in that they are being respectful of their First Amendment rights and their right to protest. That’s the solidarity that you can reasonably expect,” he said.

In the evening, protestors gathered around the theater at Acacia Park with an open microphone for people to express their thoughts.

Johnson sees more steps in the movement after this.

“We’re going to have to sit down together, meet with community members, just talk, become one and stop hiding away from each other,” he said, “Use our talents what they’re there for. We all have a purpose here on Earth, so let’s use it for the right reason.”

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