As police brutality protests continue, Fort Collins could see policing reform from above

FORT COLLINS- Pain. Pride. Power. Anger. Love.

Speaker after speaker took the microphone on the stage at Fort Collins’ Old Town Square Friday afternoon as part of police brutality protest, pouring their feelings out in front of a crowd of hundreds.

There were stories from black people sharing personal experience of confrontations with police. Stories their parents shared, passed down one generation to the next.

The square was overflowing into the surrounding streets with people of all ages and races, many holding signs and frequently breaking into chants of support.

More from the protest: View Friday’s live updates from the protest and march

The mass of protesters marched up Mountain Avenue, past the Larimer County Justice Center, back down Laporte Avenue and back into the square. Traffic was shut down as they marched, with police coming to close the streets and divert cars away.

And before and after the march each speaker — more than a dozen in total — delivered an impassioned, personal plea.

“I’m an American. I was born here. I love America, I love the freedom we have, I stand for it and because of that I will always be vocal about critically challenging and improving our society,” said Talani Black, a recent Colorado State University graduate. “If we know we can do better, which we do, then we should be doing better.”

White attendees were asked to take steps following the march, to not let their call for justice end with large public events.

Andrew Naves admitted great discomfort in speaking publicly, using that as a challenge for the audience. “I’m going to ask you to get as uncomfortable as I am. It’s time to have every awkward conversation.”

The event started as a Facebook event organized by two residents who had attended protests outside the Fort Collins Police Services building but wanted to bring the message to a bigger audience. Once there, they ceded to speakers of color to run the show.

Nightly protests:Hundreds join George Floyd protests outside Fort Collins police headquarters

“It’s been silence in this country way too long,” said Fred Peders, one of the organizers.

“I think it’s also important that people understand this is a ‘here problem,’ it’s not just an ‘out there’ problem,” said Ash Charlie, another organizer.

The rally was peaceful but charged with energy as hundreds stood in the hot sun chanting for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others who have died at the hands of police. The event began with a reading of names of those lost to police brutality.

“It’s good energy here today. It’s real good energy, but where are you going to be in about 30 days from now?” said Pastor David Williams. “I’m tired of going to rallies like this. …You are going to have to mandate from your own families what you will not put up with any more.”

Kevin Lytle for the Coloradoan