After One Year, Activists Still Seek Justice for Elijah McClain

Peaceful Marches Against Racism Continue

Activists around Denver show up for marches against police brutality.
Photo: Trevor Leach · The Sentry

Exactly one year after the murder of Elijah McClain by Aurora police, demonstrators gathered at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Aurora to stand in solidarity against racism and police brutality. After allowing the crowd to swell to several hundred people, organizers from the Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL) led a procession down Colfax Ave. all the way to the MLK Memorial in City Park. One-way, the distance was about five miles down the so-called “longest, wickedest road” in America. 

Elijah McClain tragically became yet another figure in a long and ever-growing list of black people killed by police in the United States. The brutal killing of George Floyd ignited widespread civil unrest earlier this summer, breathing new life in the story of Elijah McClain. According to family and friends, McClain would often visit the local pet shelter in his free time to serenade the cats with his violin. On June 28, organizers held a violin vigil outside the Aurora Police Department Headquarters to send a peaceful message, but that event was marred by Aurora PD after they launched an attack with chemical agents and riot gear against those gathered.  

Weeks later, PSL organized another demonstration outside Aurora PD headquarters on East Alameda Ave. After leading the march onto I-25, a driver in a teal Jeep accelerated towards the crowd. Fortunately for those present, another person maneuvered their truck to block the imminent attack and averted a disaster. Those precious seconds gave people time to scatter while the Jeep sped down the highway.

In the chaos, one person jumped over the side of the interstate and broke her leg, while another person in the crowd opened fire on the attacker and missed several shots, injuring two people. On helicopter footage captured by local Denver media, Aurora PD confronted the passengers of the Jeep. No files have been charged against them as of Sept. 4, but APD did choose to bring charges against the person who shot at the vehicle.  

These events made national news, but the gathering on Aug. 30 was uneventful. Police escorted the group down Colfax Ave. as people walked, chanting “black lives matter” and “no good cops in a racist system,” while a caravan of vehicles protected the group from behind. Even at the end of the destination, hundreds of people remained to show their support for black lives. Once leaders from PSL announced their part of the march had concluded, most people dispersed before night fell. 

None of the officers involved in the death of McClain have been charged with any crime. In wake of the protests, however, the Aurora City Council recently took up a consideration to ban chemical agents.

This is a selection from the Sept. 16 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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