And almost a tragic lesson, too. Around 500 students put together a demonstration in Denver over the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missour, to protests against police abuse of power. The Denver PD blocked traffic to allow the students to march peacefully on the streets — and that’s when a Mercedes accelerated from a dead stop into four officers, dragging one underneath the vehicle and leaving him in critical condition:

The surgery was apparently successful, as the local CBS affiliate reported later, but the question of whether this was an accident became a lot more murky after witnesses began speaking up about what they saw:

Witnesses who watched as a vehicle ran into Denver police bicycle patrol officers during a protest by East High School students Wednesday afternoon, say they don’t believe it was an accident.

Officer John Adsit was in surgery for several hours at Denver Health Medical Center and remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Wednesday night. He suffered critical injuries after being hit. Adsit is a bike officer in the department’s District 6. …

The 500 students marching down Colfax Avenue were being escorted by Denver Police officers on bicycles who were monitoring traffic during the demonstration.

At the intersection of Colfax and High Street a black Mercedes shot forward, striking four officers.

“A split second, it went from him sitting at a dead stop, the cops pulling up and it wasn’t a slow pull out, he gunned it and went straight at ‘em,” said witness Doug Action.

“All of a sudden the black Mercedes just takes off full throttle towards the police officers and runs them over,” said witness Luis Marin.

Adsit faces more surgery today:

A Denver Police officer hit and dragged by a car during a student protest will need more surgery.

“Ofc. Adsit had a good night, but is facing additional surgeries today,” Denver Police said on Twitter. “Critical issues have been addressed.”

It may have broadened the perspective of at least a few of the students protesting, including one of the organizers:

Students had been planning to rally for some time but spontaneously decided to head to the Capitol to raise awareness about police abuse, Amarae Moland, a sophomore who helped organize the protest, told The Associated Press.

She was grateful officers escorted them.

“A lot of the students felt bad,” Moland said. “We were running through the streets, and the cops were just there to help and ended up getting hurt.”

The officers were struck as the protest wound down and students returned to the school.

“I saw one of them, they were trying to get him up and he couldn’t really get up,” Moland said.

There is nothing wrong with a peaceful and lawful protest against injustice when it occurs, or even when people believe it to have occurred even while the evidence and testimony substantially point to a different conclusion. It’s not as if police abuse never occurs; any time lethal power is granted to a large enough group, abuse will follow. That’s one reason to limit the application of that power as much as possible and to ensure vigorous oversight on its use, and peaceful demonstrations can serve in part to do that. But the anti-police rhetoric heard and seen over the last few months overlooks the fact that we have police forces for good reason, and that the vast majority of those in uniform really do want to “serve and protect” those rights and their communities, as Officer John Adsit and his colleagues did yesterday.