Aurora, CO – The American flag displayed outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing center ware torn down and vandalized by a mob of protesters on Friday.
They attempted to burn the U.S. Flag, and raised a Mexican flag in its place, the Aurora Police Department (APD) said in a Facebook post.
The mob also raised a flag that read, “F--k the Cops,” according to police.
A Thin Blue Line flag spray painted with the words “Abolish ICE,” was then raised upside down next to the Mexican flag, FOX News reported.
As many as 2,000 people attended the anti-ICE event, which was dubbed “Close the Concentration Camps National Call To Action” on Facebook.
Although most of the protesters were peaceful, “hundreds” of trespassers pushed their way past a barrier on a vehicle bridge and stormed across the grounds to the facility’s front doors, where the vandalisms occurred.
APD said that department officials met with personnel at the ICE facility days prior to the planned protest, and that they urged ICE to “secure the entire width of the bridge leading into the facility with water filled barriers to prevent vehicles, and pedestrians from entering.”
But the facility opted to use traffic cones and a lightweight plastic chain coupled with a sign that read, “Private property, No trespassing,” in both Spanish and English, according to the APD.
“You can imagine this did nothing to prevent and/or stop even one person from entering,” the APD said.
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition legal services coordinator Claudia Castillo, who is also a 22-year U.S. Army military intelligence major, said that the group that tore down the flags shoved her and spit on her when she tried to stop them, The Denver Post reported.
“It was disgusting and shameful,” Castillo said. “They have compromised our movement, and they stole the spotlight and endangered our undocumented people.”
Police were aware of the vandalisms as they were occurring, but they opted not to intervene in order to protect “the safety of the large majority who were acting peacefully” and the safety of the officers, the APD said.
“Our folks were more than ready to decisively engage had we witnessed assaultive behavior or damage to the building or surrounding property that could jeopardize its security or public safety,” the department said. “Beyond the removal, attempted destruction of the US flag, replacement of the flags, and some signs and poles being put on the main doors and windows, the protesters did not engage in behavior that warranted immediate intervention.”
Police conferred with the protest organizer, who encouraged the group to disperse because “they too felt the protest was becoming less than peaceful,” police said.
A majority of the protesters then left the area.
“Our officers who worked that night, particularly those who engaged with the public as they came and left, did an incredible job in helping to establish a professional tone with the majority of folks who’s goal it was to peacefully protest,” the APD said.
Police said they are reviewing video footage from the protest to identify and prosecute those who committed illegal acts during the demonstration.
The U.S. flag that was ripped down during the mayhem has since been replaced, FOX News reported.