Protesters demonstrating in Denver over the death of George Floyd reportedly scattered throughout the city Thursday night after gunshots were fired near the state’s Capitol and police officers used tear gas canisters and pepper spray.
Tensions escalated throughout the evening between the police and protesters, The Denver Post reported.
Witnesses said they heard six or seven gunshots fired around 5:30 p.m. local time, CBS4 in Denver reported. Denver police confirmed the report.
Police initially said the shots were fired towards the Capitol, but “we do not at this point have any correlation to the protest or the protesters,” Kurt Barnes, a Denver police spokesman said, according to the Denver Post.
Officers fired tear gas and pepper spray after 9 p.m. to disperse crowds of hundreds of demonstrators who remained on the Capitol lawn. Protesters reportedly fled in all directions from the building.
The police reported that by 11 p.m. Thursday night some “smaller groups of protesters” remained, according to The Denver Post. Demonstrators allegedly threw fireworks at police officers, and law enforcement released additional tear gas.
Denver police said the protests had quieted by 1:30 a.m. on Friday. A few protesters were arrested, The Denver Post reported, although police did not confirm an exact number.
Protesters also blocked traffic around downtown Denver and on I-25, CBS4 in Denver reported. Some protesters also smashed the windows of a Colorado State Patrol cruiser.
Video of a driver appearing to turn their vehicle around and hit a protester in Denver also spread amid the ongoing protests. Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisBiden administration OKs Colorado expansion of transgender health coverage Judge dismisses police suit challenging Denver coronavirus vaccine mandate Bipartisan push for vocational training focuses on funding, curricula MORE (D) said in a Thursday statement that he was “absolutely shocked” by the video.
“Coloradans are better than this. I share the immense anguish we all feel about the unjust murder of George Floyd. But let me be clear, senseless violence will never be healed by more violence,” Polis said, NBC outlet 9News reported.
Floyd died earlier this week after a Minneapolis police officer was seen in video footage kneeling on his neck during an arrest. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” in the video.
Protests across the country have broken out over Floyd’s death. Thursday marked the third straight night of protests and riots in Minneapolis. Dozens in New York City were arrested Thursday at a Black Lives Matter protest over Floyd’s death.