Denver City Council canceled its regular meeting Monday in anticipation of a second takeover from protesters demanding more checks against the mayor, fewer police on the streets and myriad other changes.
The fear is that too many people in council chambers at once creates a coronavirus infection risk for those in attendance, Council President Jolon Clark said. Last week scores of protesters interrupted the council’s meeting for more than two hours, repeatedly refusing his request to socially distance.
Many said they were willing to accept the risk of contracting COVID-19 to voice their concerns. However, the risk extends to council members, city staff and citizens in attendance for other business, Clark said.
Monday’s cancellation thrusts into question all of council’s in-person meetings for the foreseeable future.
Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who previously called for council’s meetings to remain online, said demonstrators could easily interrupt other in-person council meetings. She spoke out against Monday’s cancellation, calling the move racist.
“It’s literally intended to silence the protesters who happen to be championing Black liberation,” CdeBaca said.
Social media messages urged protesters to head to City Hall despite the cancellation.
“We can still make them listen. They canceled their event not ours,” the activist group AfroLiberationFront wrote on Twitter.
Another group, Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation, created a Facebook event for a town hall Monday in place of the council meeting.
Clark said the cancellation isn’t meant to silence any particular group but rather to reduce risk for spreading the virus and give the council time to determine how to safely move forward. In retrospect, he said, the council might have resumed in-person meetings too quickly.
“Hindsight is 2020,” he said.
This is the second meeting the council has canceled due to protests. The June 1 meeting was canceled after the first several days of George Floyd protests.
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