Denver mayor cancels LGBT conference appearance after activists storm event

Activists at the Creating Change conference in Denver on Thursday protest the killing of queer Latina Jessie Hernandez last week by Denver police. NICHOLAS RICCARDI [ap]

Activists at the Creating Change conference in Denver on Thursday protest the killing of queer Latina Jessie Hernandez last week by Denver police.

Activists at the Creating Change conference in Denver on Thursday protest the killing of queer Latina Jessie Hernandez last week by Denver police.

DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock canceled a speech to a gay rights conference because of protests at the event over the police department’s fatal shooting of a 17-year-old girl, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Amber Miller said it appeared that demonstrators at the Creating Change conference would not let the mayor speak and that he hopes to reschedule his appearance. “The demonstrators were there to make a statement on recent events,” Miller said in a statement, “and the mayor heard them and respected their right to make their views known.”

Michael Hancock

Michael Hancock

The five-day gathering of the National LGBTQ Task Force is expected to draw 4,000 activists to downtown Denver and runs through Sunday.

Hernandez was killed on Jan. 26 after allegedly hitting a police officer with the stolen car she was driving. However, a passenger in the car Hernandez drove disputes the police account and said the officers fired first.

Rea Carey, executive director of the task force, on Friday linked the case to other fatal encounters between police and minorities, such as the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City.

“This senseless violence is happening in all parts of our country, including right here in Denver,” Carey said in her speech to the convention mentioning Hernandez by name.

Hernandez was a lesbian, and her case has garnered additional sympathy among gay rights activists. Her wake is scheduled for Friday evening.

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