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Fires, more tear gas during second night of Denver protests

The second day of protests in response to George Floyd's death was largely peaceful until Friday night, which included flashbangs, tear gas and fire.

DENVER — After protests in response to the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota remained largely peaceful for most of the day, more chaos erupted as the protests wore into their second night. 

Dozens of activists gathered at the Colorado Capitol and marched in downtown Denver for more than 11 hours Friday afternoon and evening.

During the first several hours, dozens of protesters were seen walking from the Capitol down to the 16th Street mall with homemade signs, chanting "hands up, don't shoot," "George Floyd" and "black lives matter." 

However, as night fell there were more clashes with police as some protesters were seen lobbing water bottles and other objects at officers and had tear gas and other chemicals tossed back at them. Several small fires were also set around in the area, and flashbangs echoed in downtown throughout the night.

Ryan Haarer and Steve Staeger were at the protest. You call follow their tweets below:

As the chaos was beginning, other protesters were preaching peace and urging the crowds to start heading home, as the second day of rallies had started around noon.

"It's not enough to just say something on Facebook, you need to go out and you need to say something to their face, otherwise no one's gonna care and it's not gonna change," said protester TJ Smith from Lakewood of why he came to demonstrate.

One of the lead protesters told the crowd over a megaphone to behave peacefully, and that doing otherwise would take away from their message. 

One man who attended the rally, Aubrey Rose, told 9NEWS Reporter Jeremy Jojola that he spent 18 years in the military. He stopped to give a Denver Police officer a hug as he marched downtown. 

Later in the afternoon, protesters moved to East Colfax Avenue, where SWAT officers were seen at the scene monitoring the protest. 

People were seen on Sky9 footage spray painting a statue outside the Capitol, as well as places in downtown Denver. 

Here's a look at what 9NEWS reporters saw at the scene during the day. 

After seven hours of protesting, several groups began getting into confrontations with police.

This was around the same time a large group had gathered at the City and County Building calling for freedom and preaching peaceful protest.

Other protesters, including Denver School Board Member Tay Anderson, were heard urging the group to head home for the night.

At one point as the night continued, protesters also blocked Lincoln Street and 13th Avenue, keeping drivers from getting to the capitol building.

Police cleared the intersection using tear gas after a few minutes. Flashbangs were also seen there.

Around 10 p.m. a few small fires were seen near the Capitol. They were quickly put out, one by protesters who were nearby and another by the fire department.

Here's a look at the aftermath of the second night of protests on Saturday morning.

Mayor Hancock released a statement Friday night that reads:

"What we are seeing tonight is needless, senseless and destructive. Once again, the violent actions of a few are drowning out legitimate calls for justice. Twice today, we had peaceful, successful demonstration where people expressed their outrage over the death of George Floyd. We saw them, we heard them, and they respected their cause. Unfortunately, another element with selfish motives and reckless intentions infiltrated tonight’s demonstration and incited violence with homemade explosives, rocks, bottles, graffiti and vandalism. This is not who we are, and calmer heads must prevail. Our police officers have a sworn duty to maintain everyone’s safety – and they will. People are crying out to be heard, but this violent distraction only divides us.”

This all came one day after Thursday's protest in Denver, which was meant to be a statement against police brutality after a video shared widely on social media showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was heard saying “I can’t breathe.” 

That officer and other officers at the scene have all been fired, and on Friday, Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner John Mark Harrington announced one former officer, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested in connection with Floyd's death.

RELATED: Former Minneapolis police officer arrested in George Floyd death

The video of the arrest led to protests across the country – including in Minneapolis where crowds set fires and looted businesses.

Thursday's Denver event also began peacefully, but eventually the crowd that had initially gathered at the Capitol separated into multiple groups. One of them marched down the 16th Street Mall and toward Interstate 25 via 20th Street, where they ultimately crowded onto the highway and blocked traffic.

While there was no widespread violence, there were some incidents that prompted police to deploy tear gas in an effort to disperse crowds that had blocked streets.

RELATED: Tear gas deployed, windows shattered as crowd marches in Denver protesting death of George Floyd

Graffiti was painted on the Capitol building, and a state patrol cruiser as well as a vehicle belonging to Democratic State Sen. Leroy Garcia had their windows shattered.

Another video taken near the Capitol showed a driver apparently swerve in an effort to hit a protester. Denver Police said Friday they were aware of the video but had not yet identified either the driver of the vehicle or the man who was struck by the vehicle.

Thirteen people were arrested following Thursday's protests and three officers were injured, according to Denver city officials. 

Hancock said the city's officers used "restraint" in response to the protesters, and held a news conference Friday calling for ensuing gatherings to be peaceful. 

He also condemned Floyd's death. 

"Like many in our community, I am outraged at the senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His life matters," Hancock said. "I am proud that many in Denver have wanted to join the chorus of those across the country demanding justice and consequences for his life being taken too early."

RELATED: Video: Driver appears to intentionally hit man protesting death of George Floyd

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