Aurora identifies woman cited in connection with flag removals during July ICE protest

Aurora identifies woman cited in connection with flag removals during July ICE protest

The Aurora Police Department has identified a woman cited in connection with flag vandalism on July 12 outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.

Michelle Mata, 37, of Lakewood was issued a summons on July 24 for criminal tampering. She is scheduled to appear in municipal court Aug. 27, according to a copy of the summons obtained after The Denver Post submitted an open records request through the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act. She previously had not been identified.

Aurora police refused to release Mata’s name when they announced a citation had been issued to one person accused of taking down flags and replacing them with others during a protest at the detention center. The Denver Post also has requested police incident reports about the protest, but those documents have not been provided.

The agency previously released photos of six people that investigators were trying to identify.

On July 12, about 2,000 people gathered to protest the Trump administration’s planned immigration raids outside the detention center, and a group of protesters broke away from the crowd and pulled down three flags, including the American flag, which they replaced with a Mexican flag. They also raised a “thin blue line”-style American flag that had been defaced. The demonstrators also attempted to burn the U.S. flag they’d removed from the flagpole, according to Aurora police.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Aurora police said the woman was identified in connection to the removal of The GEO Group flag. The GEO Group is a private, for-profit company that runs the detention facility.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Aurora police had not issued any additional citations.

Protest organizers denounced the incident that caused a national uproar, saying it detracted from their message about national immigration policies and alleged abuses.

The agency said on Facebook in a post on July 19 that police were trying to identify two men who are considered suspects who took down the U.S. flag at the protest, and they could face citations for reckless kindling of fire, injury to property and criminal tampering, all municipal code violations.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to email apdcrimetips@auroragov.org or call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 where tipsters can remain anonymous. Crime stopper tips could result in an up to $2,000 reward with a matching $2,000 from the Aurora Reward Fund.

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