The Denver Post Year in Photos 2021

This year, we divided our Year in Photos into three parts. Click here to see Part 1.

Safe Haven

The Tenacious Unicorn Ranch is a haven for transgender people who raise Alpaca, sheep, goats, lambs, ducks and chickens. For about a year, the ranchers have called home a 40-acre plot of hardscrabble land near Westcliffe, the county seat of rural Custer County, population 4,700.

George Floyd

Special Occasions

This year, we divided our Year in Photos into three parts. Click here to see Part 1 and Part 3.

Living with Trauma

The money — all $100,000 of it — didn’t last long.

For Vanessa Peoples, a payout after she’d been roughed up by Aurora police officers brought some relief to her family.

“I’m not upset I don’t have the money left because I did accomplish a lot. I had it and things needed to be done.” Peoples said. “I didn’t have to see my mom struggle anymore. For me to take care of my kids and pay my medical bills meant a lot.”

But four years later, Peoples continues to struggle with what happened on the afternoon of July 13, 2017, at her home in Aurora when an officer threw her on the floor, straddled her body and then tied her hands and legs behind her back as she screamed in pain. She suffers from depression, often questioning her actions that day despite the settlement.

“They took something from me,” Peoples said. “They made me feel like I was the one who was wrong. I still think about it and I ask, ‘Why did that have to happen to us?’”

Arvada Shooting

Twenty gunshots exploded in Olde Town Arvada one Monday afternoon last June, shattering windows, killing three and undermining the sense of safety previously held by those who live and work nearby.

Air Force Academy

Summer Fun


For a short time the crowd was silent.

Rodeo announcer Branden Edwards asked for a moment that Friday night — a moment of silence so they all could remember what it sounded like last year, when the pandemic shut down the rodeo in Deer Trail, Colorado.

The only noise came from the wind, punctuated by passing traffic on nearby Interstate 70.

The small eastern plains town of Deer Trail has a long history with rodeo. They hold a Guinness Book of World Records for the first recorded rodeo in the world, which dates back to 1869.

After the pause Edwards said, “That’s the last time I want to hear that.” The crowd, already on their feet, began to cheer.

And, after a year’s hiatus, the action began.

All-Star Game

Downtown Denver morphed into a sea of baseball jerseys new and old as tens of thousands gathered with mitts and hats for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game, the culmination of several days of red carpet walks, youthful celebrations and monster home runs.

Coors Field, pinch-hitting as host city after the league moved the Midsummer Classic from Atlanta in April, opened its gates and its arms to the masses again — a cacophony of maskless, joyous fans looking to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put his signature on his first All-Star Game with one swing. Toronto’s 22-year-old first baseman crushed a 468-foot solo home run in the third inning, waking up the crowd and igniting the American League to a 5-2 win over the National League. He was named the game’s most valuable player.





New Graduate


Elijah McClain

The image of Elijah McClain was splashed across television screens and websites in 2020 at the height of protests against police brutality in Denver and across the nation. His name was printed on T-shirts, buttons, posters, murals and sports uniforms.

But this is Sheneen McClain’s son. The young man she raised as they bounced between homes, scraping together a life through public benefits, charity and whatever jobs she could find.

And she will control his legacy.

“His legacy has to be about what’s right in this world, but, unfortunately, his death is highlighted by what is wrong in the world,” Sheneen McClain said during one of three interviews with The Denver Post in anticipation of the anniversary of her son’s death. “Elijah’s legacy is about how humanity matters, how our lives matter.”

Three police officers and two paramedics have since been charged in McClain’s death. All five are scheduled to be arraigned in January.

Aurora agreed to pay $15 million to the parents of Elijah McClain to settle the civil rights lawsuit they filed against the city in the wake of the 23-year-old’s 2019 death after a violent arrest, a source with knowledge of the settlement confirmed Thursday.

The settlement is the largest police misconduct settlement in Colorado history and among the largest ever in the United States.

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