Police in Aurora, Colorado are facing backlash after asking the public to help identify a number of people suspected of removing and vandalizing a U.S. flag at a migrant detention center during a protest on Friday.
Offering a $4,000 reward for information leading to their identification, the Aurora Police Department posted three images to Twitter showing nine people, including a woman wearing a shirt appearing to say “chinga la migra,” a Spanish slang phrase equating to “f*** ICE” and a man holding up a sign saying “f*** cops.”
The protesters appeared to have been participating in the Lights for Liberty protests organized across the country on Friday to demand an end to migrant detention centers, which event organizers described as “human concentration camps.”
“Can you help us ID?” the Aurora Police Department asks in its post.
“These people were involved with removing & vandalizing a U.S. flag,” it says, before offering a $4,000 reward.
Commenting on the incident, several people claiming to have been at the event said protesters had not only removed the U.S. flag outside a detention center in Aurora but had also replaced it with a Mexican flag.
While some social media commenters praised the police department for trying to track down the demonstrators, others hit out at police for sharing their photos on social media and asking the public to help identify them.
“Funny that I don’t see anyone committing any act. I think you just chose those images at random,” said Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, national co-chair of the Green Party, in response to the Aurora Police Department’s post.
“Can we help you I.D. private citizens who committed no crime? F*** off,” one social media user, Dylan Burton, weighed in. “We pay your salaries, for your facilities and your military equipment. We pay ICE’s salaries, facilities and military equipment. This is our property and we can do what we wish with it. Stop this harassment.”
Another social media user, Rick Ellis, questioned why police would offer $4,000 for information leading to the identification of the apparent demonstrators, writing: “You only offer 1k for shootings and robberies. Why?”
“Because a Blue Lives Matter flag was involved,” Cuéllar alleged.
“They were too busy consorting with Nazi bikers to actually say anything in the moment though,” Cuéllar said.
“That’s a private, racist facility run by GEO group,” Ellis said. “Crazy that hoisting a flag there is worth 4x a shooting in Aurora.”