Riot Police Brutally Shut Down Elijah McClain Violin Vigil And Pepper Spray Protesters
A peaceful violin vigil held for Elijah McClain this weekend, June 27, was shut down riot police who sprayed protesters with pepper spray.
Hundreds of people gathered in Aurora’s City Center Park in Colorado on Saturday, June 27, in memory of 23-year-old Black musician Elijah McClain, who died after being put in a chokehold by police last year.
McClain was killed after an altercation with police while he was walking home on August 24, 2019, after medics administered ketamine to sedate him while police forcibly held him on the ground.
As he was transported to hospital, McClain went into cardiac arrest. He was pronounced brain dead three days later, and later died after being removed from life support.
Though the sad and unjust death of Elijah McClain happened last year, the incident has gained public attention due to the Black Lives Matter movement, as protesters demand further investigation and justice for the 23-year-old.
On Saturday, protesters gathered to remember the ‘gentle soul’, while violinists played The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the Range, a song that was sampled by Tupac Shakur’s Changes, in memory of McClain who famously played violin for homeless kittens at a local shelter.
A series of videos show riot police making their way into the crowd and using pepper spray to disperse demonstrators.
9News reporter Marc Sallinger tweeted from the scene that ‘lots of people’ were ‘coughing and gasping for air’.
‘As police in riot gear were spraying protesters with pepper spray and using batons to push them back at the Elijah McClain protest in Aurora today, this man began playing the violin,’ he tweeted. ‘One of the most surreal scenes I’ve ever seen. Music is powerful.’
The man was later revealed to be Maestro Hughes, who told Sallinger: ‘I felt that the power of music would stop the police, quell the situation and unite everyone in honoring Elijah McClain and that’s just what happened.’
Aurora Police have since said they were forced to make their way forward because protesters had ‘moved the fence barrier blocking Aurora PD headquarters,’ adding that ‘smoke was used to try and encourage people to move to the safe area.’
A spokesperson for the police department tweeted:
Aurora Police Department did not use tear gas last night during the protest.
The reports that we used tear gas are FALSE.
Pepper spray was used after a small group of people gathered rocks/sticks, knocked over a fence, & ignored orders to move back. Tear gas was not used.
Protesters are calling for the officers involved in McClain’s death to be held accountable.
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