Denver Says It's Fighting to Take Back Downtown From 'Urban Travelers,' Violence

New video of a man allegedly attacking strangers captured the downtown mayhem.

ByABC News
July 1, 2016, 12:19 PM

— -- Right on the heels of an announcement by Denver officials to increase security downtown, a video has been making the rounds of a disturbing attack on the bustling 16th Street Mall, one of the city's most popular spots.

In the video posted on social media, a shirtless man can be seen chasing people on the pedestrian mall Wednesday evening around 6 p.m. as he wildly swings a pole and hits them with it.

Denver police said Clarence Seeley, 32, had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault and second-degree assault. The District Attorney's Office said today Seeley had not yet been formally charged.

In a news release, police said he'd allegedly threatened and hit random people with a "plastic (PVC-type) pipe."

One victim, a 35-year-old man, suffered a head laceration from the assault, but refused medical treatment, police said. The first two people assaulted in the video had left the scene and had not yet reached out to police.

Deputy Police Chief David Quinones said Thursday that Seeley was also suspected in multiple incidents within a four- to five-block area that had been reported over a period of 40 minutes before the mall incident. Quinones said that Seeley had been in Denver for about nine days.

On Thursday, Mayor Michael Hancock said that the videotaped alleged assault was indicative of the activity and individuals Denver authorities were battling in the downtown area.

On Monday, Denver officials introduced a new security plan for the mall that included more uniformed police officers this summer -- to the tune of $650,000 in taxpayer money -- as well as the hiring of a private security company.

Hancock blamed the recent trouble on a flood of what he termed "urban travelers," transients drawn to Colorado for its legalized marijuana.

"These are travelers to our city," he said Thursday. "[They] come here primarily to engage in the hanging out on our mall and to do other things in the city. ... When we asked them why did you come, it was very clear. They were very candid with us. They came here for marijuana."

Police said they were also investigating an unrelated video of a man leaving work and being assaulted by aggressive panhandlers.

"This is the type of behavior that we are addressing on the mall," Quinones said. "This is the type of behavior that we have said repeatedly will not be tolerated on the mall."

"We're going to take this very seriously," Hancock said. "Our job is to protect the citizens of Denver."