Citizens rally outside police department after death of George Floyd

Meagan Stackpool

Members of the community gathered in front of the Fort Collins Police Department to hold a candlelight vigil for George Floyd on May 29.

Supporters arrived wearing face masks and carried signs and candles. The vigil was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed to Friday to not interfere with the rallies in Denver. Still, about 100 people showed up in solidarity on Thursday outside the precinct, as reported by the Coloradoan.

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Jazzlyn Ross, a preschool teacher and student at Front Range Community College, helped to organize the vigil in Floyd’s memory. She expressed her hope for a peaceful gathering to further their message and explained the purpose behind the vigil. 

“Our goal is not to necessarily protest,” Ross said. “I’ve been avoiding that word, but we mainly want to pay tribute to the lives that have been lost and acknowledge that families are suffering. It’s mostly about starting the conversation to end the problem rather than to react with violence.” 

Ross worked with Jared Hollingsworth Deleon, another community member, who helped organize a vigil in Denver with the rally the night before. He expressed his frustration at the events in Minneapolis and the need for action within Fort Collins. 

“I believe that people should address the Fort Collins police and make them start the reform process now before anything does happen,” Hollingsworth Deleon said. “We’re all here. This is all our country, and if something happens in a city in this country, then it happens to all of us.” 

He said that if police and bystanders do not enact some sort of radical change to prevent similar events, then their complacency supports broken systems. 

Especially in places where there isn’t a big Black community, that’s where it’s going to be more prevalent. That’s where white people are going to have more confidence to say things because there’s not people that are gonna retaliate. You need to make your voice heard. Be an ally.” Audra Koopman, Fort Collins resident

The vigil became popularized by a post made by Hollingsworth Deleon, which was shared several times. The post asked attendees to wear masks and remain peaceful and socially distant so as to not give the police any reason to break their gathering up. The message was also repeated several times by organizers. After a few brief speeches, attendees lined the streets in signs and broke out in chants and cheers as cars honked driving past. 

One of the vigil-goers, Tally Pyles, expressed the need for community awareness. 

“You need to really investigate what is going on with minority groups and the Black community … (and) how they’re being oppressed and what is truly going on,” Pyles said. “You need an open mind.”

Audra Koopman, a Fort Collins resident, led a prayer during the vigil for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. She talked about the need for support from white allies in the community to show themselves and show their support. 

“Especially in places where there isn’t a big Black community, that’s where it’s going to be more prevalent,” Koopman said. “That’s where white people are going to have more confidence to say things because there’s not people that are gonna retaliate. You need to make your voice heard. Be an ally.”

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Ross went on to express her hopes for the community of Fort Collins, stating that she wanted to start a conversation about police brutality, and that while we may not have seen it predominantly in the Fort Collins community, Colorado is no stranger to it. 

“By voicing our concerns, now my hope is that we can accomplish the fact that we don’t want that same white supremacy in our community, and we want to feel safe, and we want to be able to feel like the people who are meant to protect us are going to do that for us,” Ross said.

Meagan Stackpool can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MeaganStackpool.