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Denver police officer fired for “Let’s start a riot” post

June 2, 2020 GMT
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Denver outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Denver outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — A Denver police officer was fired Tuesday for posting a photo this weekend of himself and two other officers in tactical gear with the caption “Let’s start a riot” in the middle of demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd.

Officer Thomas McClay was terminated just a day after an internal affairs investigation was launched for violating the department’s social media policy which bars officers from making posts that could impair the department’s “working relationships” or the performance of their duties. McClay, who joined the department in October after graduating from the department’s academy, could not be immediately reached for comment. He did not have a listed telephone number and the Instagram account he posted on appeared to be deleted.

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The move came as hundreds of people gathered for another round of protests near the state Capitol and the call for police reform shifted in part to proposed changes in the law. Flanked by families of African American men who died in police custody or shootings in Colorado, State Rep. Leslie Herod and Senate Majority Leroy Garcia announced they were introducing a bill to remove police officers’ immunity from prosecution.

Meanwhile, the County Sheriffs of Colorado, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police asked state lawmakers to make it a crime when officers fail to intervene in cases of excessive force. They said that is already an expectation for most law enforcement agencies in the state but putting it into law would allow officers who fail to step in to face criminal prosecution.

Buses and trains began running again in downtown Denver on Tuesday for the first time since the protests began on Thursday because there were fewer protests being held. Most days have seen several waves of protests throughout the day, with largely peaceful demonstrations during the day and more unruly protests at night.

Some protesters have sprayed graffiti on the Capitol and other buildings, broke windows and started fires in dumpsters. A man is suspected of intentionally driving his car at police officers Saturday.

Since the protests started, 338 people have been arrested, police said. Besides violating the city’s curfew, which started Saturday night, protesters have been arrested for alleged burglary, public fighting, throwing stones or missiles, destroying property and having dangerous weapons.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have criticized President Donald Trump’s threat to send the military to cities that have seen violence and vandalism as “unproductive” and could potentially lead to more unrest.

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Polis said Tuesday that the damage done to property during the protests did not compare to the harm that has been done to black people.

“Spray paint can be power washed, and windows can be fixed, but the black lives taken can’t be replaced or brought back, and the pain and injustices that our black community members have suffered will take years and decades to repair. I am ready, willing, and eager to be your partner in that work,” he said.