AURORA, Colo. – Hundreds of people are expected to gather Friday evening to demand that the officers involved in the in-custody death of Elijah McClain be fired by the Aurora Police Department.
On Friday, they got part of their wish granted as Officer Jason Rosenblatt was among three Aurora Police officers fired. Rosenblatt recieved a text message from three other officers who imitated a choke hold that was performed on McClain. Rosenblatt responded with "Ha-Ha" to the text messages, Aurora Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said.
Two of the officers in the photo were fired, while a third resigned earlier this week.
But the protesters are calling for the firing of two additional officers who were involved in last August's incident that resulted in McClain's death.
“For 10 months Aurora Police Department has shielded Elijah McClain's murderers on their force from facing any form of justice. It was only last Friday, just ahead of a mass march for Elijah, that they pulled the three killers off the streets and put them on paid desk duty,” reads the announcement of the protest organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation – Denver (PSL). “We need to make it clear that this is absolutely NOT enough.”
Last Friday, APD announced officers Nathan Woodyard, Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema had been taken off street duty "because of threats and harassment," according to a police spokesperson. Police said those threats involved phone calls as well as email messages.
Officials did not disclose which department the officers were reassigned to, but said they were working in a "non-enforcement capacity."
The PSL says they expect murder charges “for the three killers” and demand that APD fire all three “IMMEDIATELY.”
The rally will start at 3 p.m. MT at the site where organizers say, “Elijah was brutalized and killed and where APD danced on his grave.” From there, protesters will march to the APD headquarters at the Aurora Municipal Center.
The rally will start three hours earlier than originally planned as McClain's family plans to hold a "community response" following a 2 p.m. news conference by the Aurora Police Department. The march is still scheduled for 6 p.m.
The march and protest will put APD’s response to test once again, following a violent night of confrontation between officers and protesters last Saturday.
Organizers say there will be people of all ages at Friday’s protest, “who do not want a repeat of last Saturday’s violence from APD, but (who) will not be intimidated out of exercising their First Amendment right to assemble and voice their concerns.”
McClain’s death, largely unnoticed for the past 10 months, recently garnered national media attention following nationwide calls to reform interactions between police and Black Americans in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
On Tuesday, the Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office, along with several other law enforcement agencies, announced they've been reviewing facts in the death of the 23-year-old Black man since last year for a potential federal civil rights investigation, saying they were aware of the photo allegations which surfaced Monday evening, and were gathering further information about the incident.
This article was written by Óscar Contreras for KMGH.