DeVon Bailey protesters disrupt State of the City speech



Protesters calling for "justice for De'Von [Bailey]" repeatedly interrupted Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers' State of the City speech to a large (and mostly receptive) audience at The Broadmoor on Sept. 12.

Early in the speech, a single woman stood up and began yelling her protest. Suthers paused and waited until she was escorted out of the room. Several other individuals likewise interrupted Suthers throughout his speech, and were also led out of the room.

At one point, loud chanting could be heard just outside the doors of the massive hall. Around five protesters had gathered with signs outside the doors, and they were shown off the premise by police officers (see video at top).

Bailey, a 19-year-old black man, was shot multiple times in the back by police officers on Aug. 3 after he and another young man (identified as Bailey's cousin) were stopped because they matched the description of two men involved in an armed robbery. Body cam footage shows that, after an officer explained why he had stopped the men, and told them to keep their hands away from their waists, another officer approached to search them for weapons. At first, both men were cooperative, but then Bailey suddenly took off running. He was no longer holding his hands up. The officers fired, hitting Bailey multiple times.

The shooting caused an uproar in Colorado Springs, with Bailey supporters claiming police brutality and calling for an independent investigation of the shooting. (The El Paso County Sheriff's Office investigated the shooting, but Bailey supporters say that is a conflict of interest because Undersheriff Pete Carey is the former Colorado Springs police chief.)

There have been many protests since the shooting, including one shortly after the incident in which protesters gathered outside the Police Operations Center, and two white men approached the crowd and drew guns. The two men were arrested. On Sept. 10, Bailey supporters made themselves known at the Indy and Colorado Springs Business Journal's (a sister publication of the Independent) town hall with Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Suthers largely ignored the protests at his speech but — directly after a protester was removed — he received a standing ovation when he said he planned to add more police officers and firefighters.

"I personally believe there is no more difficult job in America’s cities today than serving as a police officer," he added. "You have to make split second decisions to protect your community and yourself. As we saw again last month in our city, those decisions can have fatal consequences and should be subject to scrutiny to determine if the officers have acted in accordance with law. But our police officers, just like everyone else, should have the benefit of due process and the rule of law. My request of our community is that we recognize that all our first responders have tough jobs, and when you see them in our community, please thank them for the difficult but very necessary service they perform. They need and deserve our support."

That earned another standing ovation, as did a short video of Officer Cem Duzel, who was shot in the face by an armed suspect in 2018. Duzel is still recovering from his injuries.

The mayor's speech was mostly positive, stressing the city's continued recognition as a great place to live and its strong economy. He noted that voter-approved taxes  have improved road and stormwater infrastructure, and lauded major projects like the Summit House and the City for Champions projects.

The mayor did acknowledge that both affordable housing and homelessness are major challenges for the city, but said major strides are being made to address those needs.

"The City Council and I will use all of the tools in our toolbox to facilitate the expansion of affordable housing in Colorado Springs," he said. "The City is completing a comprehensive affordable housing plan designed to allow for the construction, preservation, and opportunities to purchase at least an average of 1,000 affordable units per year going forward."
A large crowd showed up to hear Mayor John Suthers deliver his fifth State of the City speech. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • A large crowd showed up to hear Mayor John Suthers deliver his fifth State of the City speech.
The mayor also noted that while he was relieved to see Interstate 25 expanded between Monument and Castle Rock, he was concerned that the state lacked the needed transportation dollars to adequately address the needs of state roads in Colorado Springs, from Powers Boulevard to U.S. 24.

The mayor ended his speech on a historical note, saying that the 150th anniversary of the city is approaching in 2021. To listen to or read the whole speech, click here.

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