DENVER (KRDO) -- As crowds took to the Colorado State Capitol Thursday to protest the death of George Floyd, a black Minnesota man who died in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck, vandalism and rioting took hold. Pueblo's own Leroy Garcia, Colorado Senate President, was one of the few who were still inside the Capitol when the protests grew.
"It was a peaceful demonstration that grew in frustration," Garcia told KRDO NewsChannel 13 Friday morning. "There was a reality that things changed here at the Capitol. I was here working late as I customarily do, and sadly saw all of this play out."
When the crowds grew in the late afternoon, Garcia says Colorado State Patrol advised the Senate President not to leave. The protesters were congregating around the parking lot, including his black GMC Sierra pick-up truck.
The tires on the senator's truck were slashed, and the windows were broken in. Garcia says there were at least two other vehicles, including a CSP cruiser that fell victim to vandalism.
Garcia was led out of the Capitol to safety through the tunnel system by Colorado State Patrol.
"I never believe anyone should become violent or damage property," said Senator Garcia. "But with that being said, I approach things from addressing the root cause."
Garcia says police brutality is a common theme in communities across the nation, and these aggressive protests are a response to inaction by law enforcement to hold their own officers and deputies accountable.
"Without addressing the behaviors of officers left with zero accountability," said Garcia. "Sadly we will have more situations like this."
Garcia believes it starts by looking in our own backyards, including Pueblo and Pueblo County.
"There are good officers and bad apples," said Garcia. "We have an obligation to root out those that are eroding the profession and allowing for the distrust to grow."
Garcia's truck is currently in the possession of the Colorado State Patrol because it had to be towed due to the slashed tires.
The General Assembly plans to reconvene on Monday. Until then, Garcia says he wants his colleagues to reflect on what is taking place in the United States and to take action on the issue of police brutality when they reconvene.