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Aurora, Colorado, police who killed Elijah McClain indicted for homicide

On the morning of September 1, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that a grand jury has indicted the Aurora Police officers and Aurora EMTs involved in the killing of Elijah McClain. The indictments come two years after McClain’s killing, as a result of a prolonged struggle for justice.

The investigation which returned these charges was opened in June of 2020 by Governor Jared Polis under the pressure of the mass uprising against racist police terror which was sweeping Colorado and the country. This investigation reopened the possibility of criminal charges against the killer cops after then-Adams County District Attorney Dave Young initially declined to file any charges against McClain’s killers.

In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, Elijah McClain’s case gained widespread attention and protests ignited in Aurora demanding charges against the police officers who killed him. On June 27, 2020, a protest of over 5,000 people led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation marched onto the I-225 highway, drawing increased national and international press coverage to the case. The following weekend, hundreds of people participated in a peaceful sit-in surrounding an Aurora police station. Mass protests continued throughout the summer, continuing to demand justice. 

Still, the Aurora Police Department refused to grant the core demand of the movement to fire and arrest the killers. In September 2020, they instead led a coordinated arrest raid on multiple leading activists and held three of the lead organizers of the protests for Elijah McClain in jail for eight days without bond, charging them with dozens of ludicrous felony and misdemeanor charges all stemming from peaceful protests demanding justice for Elijah McClain.

Despite all attempts to repress the movement, the community continued to closely monitor the case and demand justice. 

On November 21, 2020, hundreds marched to the State Attorney General’s office to demand that the state investigation return indictments for Elijah McClain’s killers.

Today, it has done just that. Officers Nathan Woodyard, Randy Rodema and Jason Rosenblatt, and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec, each face one count of manslaughter and one count of criminally negligent homicide, in addition to other charges.

“I hope they get life in prison,” Elijah’s mother Sheneen McClain told CPR. “To be honest with you, Elijah lost his life. You know, he didn’t grow up being a gang member, robbing banks. He didn’t grow up being a problem to anybody.  He was living his life in the most peaceful way he possibly could.”

The police who killed Elijah McClain will now stand trial. This victory would not have been won without the mass, sustained, militant movement of the Aurora community. 

Today cars are honking and people are celebrating in Denver and Aurora. The fight will continue to ensure that justice is served and the cops and paramedics are convicted.

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