As a group of violinists put on a serene and beautiful performance to honor the life of Elijah McClain at City Center Park in Aurora, Colorado on Saturday (June 27), the Aurora Police Department marched in with their boots and shut it down.
The incident was captured on video and posted to social media by several attendees. In one bystander’s clip, it starts with them enjoying the violinists’ performance. Seconds later, the camera pans across the park to where the Aurora police could be seen marching forward in all-black riot gear.
The police push people out of most of the park and form a wall. One violinist leaves the stage and gets on top a car and starts playing to the crowd that had been pushed out first. pic.twitter.com/i83XNOxzAv— Jessie B (@jessiedesigngal) June 28, 2020
Several people in the video can be heard screaming, “No!” as cops storm the park, forcibly removing protesters and putting an end to the performance meant to celebrate McClain — who tragically lost his life while in Aurora PD’s custody.
The police force also used pepper spray to help purge people out of the park and into a parking lot where they stood their ground. There they shouted, “Why are you in riot gear? I don’t see no riot here!”
One of the violinists stood on top of a car and played the melody to Tupac Shakur’s 1998 single “Changes.” Protesters can be seen building a human barricade around him to protect him from potential abuse from cops. Other violinists began to play soothing melodies amongst the chaos as well. The protesters also sang “Lean On Me.”
According to Aurora PD, people were getting way too disorderly. They claim some of the protesters were grabbing rocks and throwing them at the officers. The department said they ended up arresting three people for violating lawful orders after warnings were given.
McClain was a 23-year-old massage therapist who loved to play the violin, especially for shelter kittens on his lunch break. Last year, he was apprehended by Aurora police after walking home from buying iced tea at a corner store. Once handcuffed, he was administered ketamine by the fire department. On his way to the hospital, he suffered from cardiac arrest and died while being treated several days later.
On Thursday (June 25), Colorado Governor Jared Polis appointed a special prosecutor to re-investigate the circumstances that led to the McClain’s death.