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Karen Garner supporters hold rally near Loveland Police headquarters

Karen Garner rally
Posted at 4:17 PM, May 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-01 19:14:23-04

LOVELAND, Colo. -- Dozens of people spent part of their Saturday afternoon supporting 73-year-old Karen Garner, the Loveland woman with dementia whose June 2020 arrest is making headlines.

"Our main goal is to show Karen and her family that we love and support her. We want them to know that the community has their back," Morgan Goldschmidt said.

Through social media, she helped organize a rally near the Loveland Police headquarters. Despite no longer living in Loveland, she wanted to show her support in some way.

"Just kind of like everyone else, I saw the videos online," Goldschmidt said.

Body camera video showing Garner's rough arrest and the subsequent surveillance video showing officers laughing as they watched it resulted in a worldwide outcry for justice.

"No justice, no peace," the protesters shouted as they marched toward the police department's headquarters.

Among the crowd was John Walshe, a Vietnam War veteran and author of "Elderly Abuse and Mental Illness." He's upset at how officers treated Garner, particularly because of her mental illness.

"I think it's atrocious what they did to Karen, a 73-year-old, 80-pound woman, five feet tall," he said.

Police say Garner had stolen around $14 worth of merchandise at a local Walmart and took a mask off an employee's face before officers arrested her as she picked flowers nearby.

Still, Walshe says that didn't give the officers an excuse to use force against Garner.

A federal lawsuit alleges officers used excessive force on Garner in taking her to the ground, injuring her arm and shoulder getting her into the patrol car.

"You don't take a woman like that to the ground. You don't handcuff her in the back," Walshe said.

As of Friday, three officers involved in Garner's arrest were out of a job, but Goldschmidt says there needs to be more accountability.

"[Friday] was a step in the right direction, but it wasn't nearly enough," she said. "We just want everyone held accountable, and we want a police station that reflects our values of love and empathy and compassion."