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Denver police officer fired for "Let's start a riot" post during George Floyd protest

Protests grow across U.S. demanding justice for George Floyd

A Denver police officer was fired Tuesday for posting a photo this weekend of himself and two other officers in tactical gear with the caption "Let's start a riot" in the middle of demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd. Officer Thomas McClay was fired for violating the department's social media policy.

McClay was terminated just a day after an internal affairs investigation was launched. The department's social media policy which bars officers from making posts that could impair the department's "working relationships" or the performance of their duties.

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An image purportedly posted by a Denver police officer shows three officers dressed in riot gear with a caption that states "Let's start a riot."  CBS Denver

McClay, who joined the department in October after graduating from the department's academy, could not be immediately reached for comment.

City officials told CBS Denver that because McClay was a probationary employee, it allowed for a swift decision to fire him.  The picture was posted on Sunday and has since been removed.

The Denver Police Protective Association released a statement regarding the decision, which reads in part: "Today a young, probationary Denver Police officer was terminated for posting an inflammatory, insensitive, and quite frankly, misguided photograph on social media... For the other 1,600 Denver Police officers who are left dealing with a very difficult situation, we ask the public, as well as elected City officials, to stop using social media to fan the flames of hatred."

The move came as hundreds of people gathered for another round of protests near the state Capitol and the call for police reform shifted in part to proposed changes in the law. Flanked by families of African American men who died in police custody or shootings in Colorado, State Rep. Leslie Herod and Senate Majority Leroy Garcia announced they were introducing a bill to remove police officers' immunity from prosecution.

Meanwhile, the County Sheriffs of Colorado, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police asked state lawmakers to make it a crime when officers fail to intervene in cases of excessive force. They said that is already an expectation for most law enforcement agencies in the state but putting it into law would allow officers who fail to step in to face criminal prosecution.

Buses and trains began running again in downtown Denver on Tuesday for the first time since the protests began on Thursday because there were fewer protests being held. Most days have seen several waves of protests throughout the day, with largely peaceful demonstrations during the day and more unruly protests at night.

Some protesters have sprayed graffiti on the Capitol and other buildings, broke windows and started fires in dumpsters. A man is suspected of intentionally driving his car at police officers Saturday.

Since the protests started, 338 people have been arrested, police said. Besides violating the city's curfew, which started Saturday night, protesters have been arrested for alleged burglary, public fighting, throwing stones or missiles, destroying property and having dangerous weapons.

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