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Fort Collins community joins in daily national protests

In the 17 days since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer May 25, protesters across the United States refused to stay silent. 

It is no different in Fort Collins, where hundreds of community members gathered each night outside the Fort Collins Police Services station on Timberline Road to demand justice for Floyd and for all the other Black lives lost to police brutality. Smaller groups of protesters have also appeared on different street corners around Fort Collins and Loveland, at both major intersections and neighborhood roads.

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Alongside the nightly demonstrations, protesters organized major marches and speaking events at Colorado State University, Old Town Square and the Poudre School District administration building. This is not stopping, as there is a Zoom discussion on Black Lives Matter June 11 organized by the Social Justice Book Club, a police brutality protest June 12, a march for change June 13 in Old Town Square and a protest around Loveland Lake June 20. 

Below, The Collegian has put together a compilation of coverage so far on these local protests and will continue to report on them via social media and collegian.com.

Nightly vigils outside the Fort Collins police station

by Meagan Stackpool

Members of the community gathered in front of the FCPS station 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.

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. 

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.” -Jared Hollingsworth Deleon, co-organizer

“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.” 

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City Park walk of solidarity 

by Serena Bettis

Hundreds gathered May 31 at the Fort Collins City Park for a walk of solidarity with Floyd’s family.

“The walk felt right for us,” said Melissa Lozano Davis, who co-organized the walk with friend Missy Splittgerber. “When we were talking earlier this week, we were feeling really frozen. You know, the body’s response, we go fight, flight, freeze, and we could feel ourselves going into freeze, so walking was really important to move our bodies.”

Lozano Davis and Splittgerber planned to walk at least one lap around Sheldon Lake, but said that participants were welcome to walk as little or much as they desired. However, a downpour started at around 4:30 p.m. just as the crowd finished the first lap, and many people dispersed. 

“We want this to be an honoring of the lives that have been lost, first and foremost,” Splittgerber said in a video posted to the Facebook event page. “We stand in honor of them, we stand in solidarity with their families. That’s the beauty of joining together, not just with our families, but with our community family, and saying ‘We stand with you, and we grieve with you, and now we walk to change so that this doesn’t happen to more families.’”

Request to City Council for permanent George Floyd memorial

by Samantha Ye

Fort Collins residents and City Council discussed overarching issues of police brutality, accountability and systemic racism locally against the backdrop of nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd at the City Council meeting June 2.

“We as youth want to tell the Fort Collins police force that we are angry, we are here and we will fight for justice; we are not going away,” resident Hana Beachy-Quick said. “We are seeking to find a long term solution to this problem. And while we know that there haven’t been major incidents in Fort Collins, we would like to see some preventative actions so nothing like this will ever happen in our community.”

Over the weekend, memorials left for Floyd outside the FCPS building were removed, to the confusion of attendees. 

Just to see the people that have come in to realize the fight and the struggle and the pain that we go through, although they’ve never experienced it and they never will, speaks volumes.” -Jamir Constance, CSU 2020 graduate

Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said he made the decision to remove items left by residents because of the poor weather and since the police were not equipped to preserve the memorial themselves. They did take photos of the memorial items, however. 

Objects like memorial posters and burned candles have been donated to the Museum of Discovery to be preserved and archived as a piece of national and Fort Collins history “for future generations years down the road to look back at ‘what did our community do during this time,’” Swoboda said. 

March from The CSU Oval to Old Town

by Meagan Stackpool

Another round of protests sparked in Fort Collins on Tuesday, June 2, after an Instagram post went viral inviting people to join in a Unity March. 

The independently organized protest began on The Oval in front of the Administration Building where there was a short speech, followed by a march to City Hall along Howes Street.

Jamir Constance, a recent hospitality management graduate of CSU, expressed why he felt it was important for a community like Fort Collins to take part in protests.

“It’s one of the nicest communities I’ve ever been in,” Constance said. “One of the whitest though and to see all these white people come out and support me and people who look like me, it’s pretty incredible. Just to see the people that have come in to realize the fight and the struggle and the pain that we go through, although they’ve never experienced it and they never will, speaks volumes.”

Organizer and CSU graduate Adam Sahakyan also expressed the need to do more beyond just protesting. He explained that, while protests are important for garnering the public’s attention, people also have to sign petitions, vote and donate. Sahakyan also requested that Colorado State University take action, stating that CSUPD and President Joyce McConnell must make a statement.

“CSU is not innocent of racism and hate,” Sahakyan wrote in a text message to the The Collegian. “We need to see what they’re going to do to back their statements up.”

Protests, speeches at Old Town Square

by Noah Pasley

Protesters met in Old Town Square June 5 to advocate for reform in the Fort Collins Police Services and the Poudre School District. Queen Johnson, a Larimer County resident, spoke on her sons’ experiences being arrested in high school due to racial discrimination from school resource officers in Fort Collins.

“To have my children taken away from me just because they are Black hurts,” Johnson said. “If y’all think what’s going on around the country cannot happen right here in your own backyards, you’re dead wrong.” 

One of Johnson’s sons, Dontre Woods, spoke against the Poudre School District Board renewing their contract with the Fort Collins Police Services. He said that police in schools do not increase safety and that they increase fear and mistrust among students of color.

“Approximately 25% of students in Poudre School District are students of color (and) nearly 50% of the students referred to law enforcement or disciplined in Poudre School District are students of color,” Woods said. “Police in schools lead to racially profiling students … (and) the criminalization of students.”

The reporters for this compilation can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb, @MeaganStackpool, @samxye4 and @PasleyNoah.

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About the Contributors
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at editor@collegian.com.
Noah Pasley, News Editor
Noah Pasley is a senior journalism and media communication major with a minor in English. He is excited to continue his career with The Collegian and spend more time focused on reporting on social issues as well as reporting on breaking news in the Colorado State University and Fort Collins communities. As news editor, Pasley is hoping to spend more time in the community following stories and uplifting student voices. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually hunkered down with a video game and a good playlist. As a senior, Pasley is very excited to get underway with the rest of his college experience. He is most interested in learning more about the world of film and video, which he also explores daily as the Tuesday night entertainment anchor over at CTV 11. Noah Pasley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PasleyNoah.
Devin Cornelius, Digital Managing Editor
Devin Cornelius is the digital managing editor for The Collegian. He is a fifth-year computer science major from Austin, Texas. He moved to Colorado State University and started working for The Collegian in 2017 as a photographer. His passion for photography began in high school, so finding a photography job in college was one of his top priorities. He primarily takes sports photos, volleyball being his favorite to shoot. Having been on The Collegian staff for 4 1/2 years, he's watched the paper evolve from a daily to a weekly paper, and being involved in this transition is interesting and exciting. Although Cornelius is a computer science major, his time at The Collegian has been the most fulfilling experience in his college career — he has loved every second. From working 12-hour days to taking photos in Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference, he cannot think of a better place to work. Working as a photographer for The Collegian pushed him outside of his comfort zone, taking him places that he never expected and making him the photographer he is today. As the digital managing editor, Cornelius oversees the photos, graphics and social media of The Collegian along with other small tech things. Working on the editorial staff with Katrina Leibee and Serena Bettis has been super fun and extremely rewarding, and together they have been pushing The Collegian toward being an alt-weekly. Outside of The Collegian, he enjoys playing volleyball, rugby, tumbling and a variety of video games. When in Austin, you can find him out on the lake, wake surfing, wake boarding and tubing. You can expect that Cornelius and the rest of The Collegian staff will do their best to provide you with interesting and exciting content.

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