On Saturday October 25th, a gathering of anti-police militants comprised of a wide cross section of people from various communities across Denver and the region, took took to the streets of Denver to demand vengeance for the police killing of Ryan Ronquillo.
Ronquillo, a 20 year old Chicano youth, was murdered by Denver Police outside the Romero Funeral Home in Northwest Denver, on July 2. Ryan, along with dozens of other members of the Chicano/Mexicano community, was attending a funeral for a friend who had recently passed away. While sitting in his car, attempting to decompress, two unmarked police SUVs crashed into the front of his car, and non-uniformed officers jumped out of the vehicles, opening fire just seconds later.
Ryan was killed, with over a dozen shots to his head and body. Witnesses claim that Ryan was pulled out of the car, still alive, and then left to choke on this own blood as police refused to offer medical assistance on the scene.
Since Ryan was killed, there have been a series of militant protests, benefit shows, potlucks, and public meetings held to build a movement for justice for Ryan. Local anarchists and anti-police organizers have been at the forefront of this organizing, working alongside Ryan’s family and friends to build strong responses within the community.
Marches up until this point have resulted in confrontations with the police, continuously pushing the police from the streets and ending with participants controlling the terrain of struggle. These marches have been times of extreme anger and also jubilation. We have cried, bled, fought, laughed and cheered at these events, building stronger ties than any prison cell or police baton.
It was within this context that militants took to the streets on the evening of October 25th, in the latest action to mobilize the community on behalf of Ryan and his family.
The marchers met at Barnum Park in Southwest Denver. Ryan was from this neighborhood, and his family still calls Barnum their home. This Park served as Ryan’s old stomping grounds. The march organizers, comprised of family and friends, thought Barnum Park to be a fitting place to start this march. Almost no political street activity happens on the Westside of town. West Denver is often overlooked by the majority of typical political organizers and organizations in the Metro area. It has been a priority, however, of those doing the work to support this struggle, to bring this conflict back to the Westside.
A group of 50 or so people assembled at the park and after some short speeches, hit the streets of the Westside, shutting down traffic on Federal Boulevard, a major thoroughfare in the Westside. The march received massive support from passing motorists, with fists raised high in the air, and shouts of “Fuck the police” meeting the crowd as it marched North, snaking its way toward Downtown.
The crowd turned East onto 8th Ave, heading through an industrial district on its way to the La Alma Neighborhood, just South of Downtown. Up until this point, the police had not made any contact with the march. As demonstrators crossed the bridge leading into La Alma, several police cruisers formed a small barricade at the bottom of the hill at the East end of the bridge. As the crowd neared, and angry shouts met the officers, they quickly got back inside their cruisers and sped away.
Riot clad Gang Unit officers shadowed the march several blocks South, paralleling the demonstration route, but keeping their distance.
When the crowd turned North onto Santa Fe Drive, the home of the Denver Arts District, the police decided to make contact. Following the demonstrators, police attempted to speak over their megaphone at the demonstrators, but were shouted down. The marchers refused to vacate the streets, despite the growing police presence.
The marchers continued, despite police harassment. Some more abrupt turns and snaking, and the crowd marched past the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center. The crowd immediately started chanting the name of Marvin Booker, a local street preacher who had been murdered at the jail in 2010. The Booker family just recently won their lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, resulting in a jury awarded $4.65 million.
The crowd then turned, occupying the street between the jail and the Denver Mint. A parked police cruiser was attacked, tires slashed, mirrors destroyed, and window shattered. The crowd continued, with police keeping their distance behind.
Some more turns and snaking, and the crowd was on the 16th Street Mall, a main downtown point of congregation for demonstrations, parties, and other large crowd gatherings. By now, night had fallen, and the mood of the march had evolved. More people joined the marchers, as hundreds of people looked on. The mall was busy, as it was a Saturday night. And many people shouted their support for the marchers.
For a five block stretch, every trash can and any other unsecured piece of furniture either was thrown at a capitalist institution, used as a barricade, or set on fire. As the crowd and the rage continued to grow, an ATM was attacked, to many cheers from the crowd.
It was shortly after the ATM was destroyed and many trashcans set ablaze that the police decided to attack the march. Several officers attacked the back of the march, snatching a comrade and beating Ryan Ronquillo’s mother to the ground. The marchers immediately stopped and turned, challenging and confronting the police officers. Some rocks were thrown, some blows exchanged, another comrade’s arrest prevented. The Gang Unit finally assembled and the riot gear came out.
Another arrest was made as the police charged the crowd. Yet again, however, other comrades were unarrested, and the mood of the crowd continued to turn against the officers. Some pushing and confrontation later, and the police were backing up, giving ground to the demonstrators.
Now the demonstrators controlled the intersection. Police cruisers and vans were surrounded, and some attacked, and the police quickly withdrew from the streets, demonstrators smacking and hitting their vehicles as they left Downtown to the demonstrators. Cheers of joy and defiance erupted, and a quick rendition of the Supreme’s “Na Na, Hey Hey” was sung and shouted at the retreating officers.
The marchers decided to disperse at this point. One more arrest occurred during the dispersal, bringing the total to three comrades who were captured.
Our arrested comrades face a variety of charges, from Throwing Missiles at Police Officers to Felony Assault on an Officer. A fundraising page has been set up by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross for our comrades who faces the most serious of the charges. Please consider donating here:
Denver Anarchist Black Cross will continue to provide updates on the cases of our comrades. For updates on the legal defense initiative, please visit Denver ABC’s site at denverabc.wordpress.com
More actions are coming. We will not be deterred. We will never leave the streets in the hands of the police. Until all the streets belong to us!
Solidarity for Ryan!
Solidarity with the rebels of Ferguson!
Solidarity with all those who fight the police!
Support for arrested comrade(s):
-Denver Community Defense Caucus/Denver ABC