Denver Police Ordered to Withdraw Before Pro-Police Rally Attacked, Union Chief Says

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
July 23, 2020Updated: July 24, 2020

Denver police officers were told to withdraw before demonstrators attacked a pro-police rally on July 19, the head of the city’s police union said.

“I found out that a retreat order was given by the incident commander,” said officer Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association.

“And we had one lieutenant step up and said, ‘We’re not leaving.’ And this lieutenant said, ‘These people are going to get killed if we don’t stay.’ So he kept his group there. And that’s the only reason that this didn’t get worse, because somebody broke rank and decided to not retreat. And they stayed so that they could provide some assistance.”

Rogers was speaking on KNUS radio.

The Denver Police Department told The Epoch Times that officials are reviewing what happened at the rally. For now, the department is declining to comment on the specifics of what transpired.

Michelle Malkin, a conservative activist, and Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a Republican, were among those scheduled to speak at the rally, which was held at Civic Center Park in Denver.

Epoch Times Photo
Michelle Malkin holds a sign during a rally in Montgomery County, Md., on Sept. 13, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Video footage showed a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators and people dressed in gear similar to that worn by the far-left Antifa group approaching the stage shortly after the rally started. Some were wielding weapons such as a collapsible baton and a metal rod.

They then began assaulting people at the rally, according to video footage from the scene and accounts from those involved.

“Nothing was done as women who were wearing Trump gear and holding their flags were throttled and strangled by other brutish women, women all dressed in black and paramilitary gear,” Malkin said.

Rogers, who wasn’t at the event, said he came forward because after he learned what happened, he was embarrassed and saddened.

“Michelle, anybody that’s listening who was there, that’s not the rank and file, that’s not the cops. That decision was made by someone else, it’s wrong, and I’m sorry,” he said.

Neville said on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the pro-police group was “essentially surrounded by Antifa” and outnumbered 4 to 1.

“We were completely surrounded and then, before I know it … one of my friends was beaten down by four or five Antifa members.”

“And then eventually we had to evacuate,” he added. “All this occurred right on the stage of the facility where we were supposed to be having our rally. It wasn’t like it was a minor scuffle on the outskirts of the rally. It was right there on the stage,” Neville said.

It wasn’t clear whether Denver Mayor Michael Hancock or Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, both Democrats, were involved in the stand-down order, according to Neville.

The offices of Hancock and Polis didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment; neither have addressed what happened. Hancock this week joined other mayors in urging President Donald Trump not to send federal law enforcement personnel to their cities.

Attorney Randy Corporon, who helped organize the rally, said Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen requested beforehand that the event be rescheduled or moved to a different location, citing a planned Black Lives Matter counterprotest.

“He was agitated that we’re going to get his officers hurt,” Corporon told the Denver Post. “My response to him was that he should allow his officers to do their job and if people are down there breaking the law, to stop them. Because they’ll have nothing to fear from us.”

Corporon said Pazen should resign because his officers stood by as the violence occurred.

Lillian House, part of Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation, which helped organize the counter-demonstration, told the Post that most of the demonstrators on her side weren’t violent.

“The majority of the crowd was simply making noise and making verbal resistance to their pro-police celebration,” she said. “To act like the physical confrontations that happened were initiated primarily by us is just absurd.”

Malkin said that people should be politically and civically engaged, but added, “If you’re going to do it, you can’t rely on the police.”