These photos show Denver’s busy year of protests

It started with the 2016 election. Thousands of people poured into Denver’s streets, blocked traffic and marched with loud fury. That first, massive protest set the tone for a year defined by unusually active political expression.

Protesters march down Champa Street in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Susie Guerra at a rally in support of President Trump, Feb. 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) copolitics; politics; trump; rally; protest; capitol; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty
Susie Guerra at a rally in support of President Trump on the Capitol steps, Feb. 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

It started with the 2016 election.

Thousands of people poured into Denver’s streets, blocked traffic and marched. That first, massive protest set the tone for a year defined by unusually active political expression.

Protesters march down Champa Street in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Protesters march down Champa Street in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump, Nov. 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A few of the gatherings that ensued over the next year or so happened spontaneously, like the rally at DIA in response to President Donald Trump’s first crack at a “travel ban,” but many were planned and permitted.

Denver Parks and Recreation’s list of permitted events more than doubled between 2016 and 2017. That excludes actions at the Capitol, which is handled by a state-run agency.

A fun fact from the list: The Women’s March permit said they expected 5,000 people; it was later estimated there were more than 100,000 (but that’s so hard to figure out).

Civic Center Park is filled during the Women’s March on Denver. Jan. 21, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Civic Center Park is filled during the Women’s March on Denver, Jan. 21, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

While the political momentum lasted through the spring, it eventually became clear by dwindling attendee numbers that weekly rallies weren’t sustainable. In March, we reported that a weeks-long streak of Saturday protests at Civic Center Park finally ended.

From a national perspective, though, Coloradans were very active. Megan reported in May that Colorado had the third-most protesters per capita of any state.

Michelle Klermund and an American flag during a rally in support of the Affordable Care Act, Feb. 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) affordable care act; healthcare; aca; copolitics; rally; protest; civic center park; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Michelle Klermund and an American flag during a rally in support of the Affordable Care Act, Feb. 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Some of the smaller actions sometimes felt like activists (on both sides) were preaching to the choir, but a few of Colorado’s national representatives said all this activity did have an effect in Washington.

“Hearing my constituents’ opinions and concerns helped direct my focus on the priorities that were most critical to our community,” Rep. Diana DeGette told Denverite by email.

The congresswoman attributed Republicans’ inability to pass an Affordable Care Act repeal to the many protests around that issue. She said activists “should be proud” to have played a part in that discourse.

Dawn Russell interrupts Cory Gardner's speech at the Western Conservative Summit, July 21, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) western conservative summit; wcs; protest; cory gardner; healthcare; adapt; medicaid; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
Dawn Russell interrupts Cory Gardner’s speech at the Western Conservative Summit, shouting for him to save Medicaid, July 21, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennet said the congressman felt a “great responsibility” to listen to what protesters were saying. Their visibility, the spokesperson said, “Has ignited a momentum to defend the values that make us American.”

Representatives for Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman declined to comment for this story.

Misun Oh holds a tiny flag at a rally outside of the GEO private immigrant detention facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) ICE; immigration; deportation; aurora; protest; rally; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite
Misun Oh holds a tiny flag at a protest outside of the GEO private immigrant detention facility in Aurora, Feb. 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Many rallies and protests reflected national conversations about immigration, race and healthcare (to name a few), but Denver activists across the political spectrum often used these moments as opportunities to discuss local issues. A march in reaction to white supremacist actions in Charlottesville, Virginia, for instance, turned into a discussion about gentrification, I-70 and the urban camping ban.

New Covenant Alpha and Omega's Pastor Terrence Hughes walks in the rain with marchers. A rally in response to white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, VA, Aug. 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) protest; charlottesville; rally; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite; capitol
New Covenant Alpha and Omega’s Pastor Terrence Hughes walks in the rain in a march responding to white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, VA, Aug. 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

While there were some instances of clashes between activists on the right and left, I observed at least one instance of protesters finding common ground across a picket line.

Pro-Trump protester Nathan Miller (left) and an anti-Trump protester named Albert have a political discussion over a police line. A "Make America Great Again" rally at Civic Center Park, March 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) protest; rally; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado; civic center park; copolitics;
Pro-Trump protester Nathan Miller (left) and an anti-Trump protester named Albert have a political discussion over a police line and find some common ground, March 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Protesters sit above the Capitol steps after an anti-Trump rally. Nov. 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) politics; protest; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; colorado; trump;
Protesters sit above the Capitol steps after an anti-Trump rally. Nov. 10, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Muslim protesters pray at DIA, Jan. 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) amal kassir; immigration; refugees; politics; protest; copolitics; rally; dia; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty;
Muslim protesters pray at DIA in response to President Trump’s first crack at a travel ban. Jan. 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Desiree Winess (left) comforts dismayed Samoah Soulong during protests at DIA, Jan. 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) amal kassir; immigration; refugees; politics; protest; copolitics; rally; dia; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty;
Desiree Winess (left) comforts dismayed Samoah Soulong during protests at DIA, Jan. 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Amal Kassir talks to DIA police Commander Tony Lopez, who tells her that first amendment expression in the airport is prohibited without a permit. Protests at DIA. Jan. 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) immigration; refugees; politics; protest; copolitics; rally; dia; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty
Amal Kassir talks to DIA police Commander Tony Lopez, who tells her that first amendment expression in the airport is prohibited without a permit. Protests at DIA, Jan. 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Pro-life activist Tom Uebbing bows his head as Rev. Andre Mahanna leads a prayer. A "Defund Planned Parenthood" Rally outside Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, Feb. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) abortion; pro life; planned parenthood; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite; copolitics; politics;
Pro-life activist Tom Uebbing bows his head as Rev. Andre Mahanna leads a prayer during a “Defund Planned Parenthood” Rally outside Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, Feb. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Pro-Trump supporters stand at the edge of their rally in oppososition of a group of anarchist protesters, Mar. 4, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) protest; rally; copolitics; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite; capitol hill;
Pro-Trump supporters stand at the edge of their rally and yell at a group of opposing anarchist protesters down the hill, Mar. 4, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A state trooper tells a anti-Muslim protesters that the group must turn back when anarchist protesters blocked their exit. A rally against Sharia law atop the Capitol steps, June 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) copolitics; rally; protest; sharia law; islamophobia; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
A state trooper tells anti-Muslim protesters that the group must turn back when anarchist protesters blocked their exit after a rally against “Sharia law” atop the Capitol steps, June 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Two anarchist protesters are thrown to the ground and detained by police after they tried to start a fight with bikers leaving the park. A rally against Sharia law atop the Capitol steps, June 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) copolitics; rally; protest; sharia law; islamophobia; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Two anarchist protesters are thrown to the ground and detained by police after they tried to start a fight with bikers leaving a rally against “Sharia law” atop the Capitol steps, June 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Denver's Metro Swat Bureau officers take off on 12th Ave south of the Denver Art Museum as protester factions split up after the initial march. An anti-Trump rally. Nov. 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) politics; protest; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; colorado; trump;
Denver’s Metro Swat Bureau officers take off on 12th Ave south of the Denver Art Museum as protester factions split up after the initial march. An anti-Trump rally. Nov. 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Jan Parton helps Dawn Russell up from her wheelchair. A sit-in at Senator Cory Gardner's office opposing a Republican healthcare plan, June 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denverite; protest; cory gardner; sit in; civil disobedience; healthcare; medicaid; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado;
Jan Parton helps Dawn Russell up from her wheelchair during a sit-in at Senator Cory Gardner’s office opposing a Republican healthcare plan, June 28, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Kris Montoya stands at Civic Center Park during the Women’s March on Denver. Jan. 21, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Kris Montoya stands at Civic Center Park during the Women’s March on Denver, Jan. 21, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A cutout of Cory Gardner is reflected in a casket as it circles the building containing his office. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
A “cardboard Cory” is reflected in a casket as it circles the building containing his office. ADAPT protesters denounced yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A rally for Rohingyas, Myanmar's Muslim minority, who have supporters in the U.S. while a so-called "genocide" is happening to those still in east Asia. Sept. 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; protest; rally; myanmar; burma; rohingya;
A rally for Rohingyas, Myanmar’s Muslim minority, who have relatives in the U.S. while a so-called “genocide” is happening to those still in east Asia. Sept. 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty)
Around 100 people dressed in red cloaks from The Handmaid's Tale marched to the Denver Tech Center Marriott in protest as Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance there, Oct. 26, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) copolitics; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; handmaid's tale; mike pence; denver tech center;
Around 100 people, dressed in red cloaks from The Handmaid’s Tale, marched to the Denver Tech Center Marriott in protest as Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance there, Oct. 26, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A broken window at Ink! Coffee in Five Points during a protest, Nov. 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado; ink coffee; five points; rino; gentrification; protest;
A window at Ink! Coffee that was broken in response to a sign they displayed that read “Happily Gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.” Protesters showed up the following weekend to denounce the shop, Nov. 25, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Lily Griego, a member of Senator Michael Bennet's staff, offers hot tea to Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition activists holding a short vigil outside of the Senator's Capitol Hill office. Even though Bennet is supportive of a bill extending status for people registered under DACA, activists hope to push him toward the most comprehensive, "clean" DREAM Act possible. Dec. 8, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; immigration; protest; daca; circ; colorado immigrants rights coalition; denverite; capitol hill;
Lily Griego, a member of Senator Michael Bennet’s staff, offers hot tea to Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition activists holding a short vigil outside of the Senator’s Capitol Hill office. Even though Bennet is supportive of a bill extending status for people registered under DACA, activists hope to push him toward the most comprehensive, “clean” DREAM Act possible. Dec. 8, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.