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Denver police denied Auraria’s second request to clear protest, chief says there is “no legal way” to do so



Denver police denied Auraria's second request to clear protest, chief says there is "no legal way" to do so

Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said Friday he denied a second request from officials at the Auraria Campus to remove pro-Palestinian protesters from an encampment after police arrested 45 people last week during a tense investigation into the site – and said there is currently “no legal way” for officers to dismantle the demonstration.

Thomas blamed Auraria Campus officials for mishandling the aftermath of last week’s mass arrests, saying he had expected the school to collect protesters’ tents and return them at a later date, but that the school had instead left the tents at the site, allowing protesters to quickly rebuild the camp.

“And as you might imagine, they just came and put the tents back up, and we were back to square one,” Thomas said. “At that point, (Auraria officials) asked us to come back and participate in the operation again. And then I shut it down and said, ‘I’m not doing that again.’ I don’t go in and arrest forty, now eighty – because the crowd had grown considerably larger by then. And I didn’t think it was safe, nor appropriate, to go in and do that again. So I shut it down.”

Thomas, who spoke at a regular Denver meeting Citizen Oversight Council on Friday morningwent on to say that law enforcement currently has “no legal way” to clear the pro-Palestinian encampment on the campus that serves the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver.

“While the school would prefer that the group leave the area, I don’t think there is a legal way to do that,” he said. “Well, I know there’s no legal way to do that unless they actually do something that creates an unlawful assembly. And there is no information at this time to indicate that this is imminent.”