Two stories on separate issues out of the wealthy southern suburbs of Denver, Colorado today tell a story together that we think says a lot about the disconnect between political conservatives in America today and reality–political and otherwise–going into the 2020 general elections.
The first, as the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports, is from Greenwood Village, one of the richest (and whitest) suburbs along the Front Range:
Backlash has been swift since The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Greenwood Village’s elected leaders had passed a resolution stating that the city would “in all cases defend any police officer in any suit or proceeding brought under (Senate Bill 217) and pay or indemnify its police officers against all expenses” incurred from a legal challenge to officer conduct.
The suburb south of Denver, through its attorney and mayor, told The Post that it would never find a police officer to have acted in bad faith. Greenwood Village is seeking to protect its officers from personal liability even in cases when officers knowingly behave unlawfully — in contradiction to the new police reform law, which says officers can be on the hook for up to $25,000.
Greenwood Village’s highly controversial decision to swear off a key trigger for police accountability within their municipal boundaries was swiftly condemned by Attorney General Phil Weiser, and Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Black Lives Matter protesters descended on the city soon afterward:
Greenwood Village is 84% white, less than 3% Black and about 5% Hispanic. But on Thursday, the latest edition of Black Lives Matters protests came to this community of just over 15,000, where the median income is more than $127,0000 and the median home price is just shy of $900,000…
The resolution is illegal, said activist Terrance Roberts, a representative of the group Front-Line Party for Revolutionary Action of Aurora, who also claimed that Black people are not welcome in Greenwood Village.
Up until Greenwood Village took this provocative action in defiance of the law just passed in Colorado to address the front-and-center issue of police brutality, there were no significant protests in the city. There have historically been some troubling cases of police disregard for the rights of city residents, like the destruction of the home of city resident Leo Lech during a police pursuit of a criminal with only token compensation. But if the voters of Greenwood Village are upset at the sudden attention their quiet little ritzy suburb is getting, their first call should be to the elected officials who made their town a lightning rod.
Meanwhile across County Line Road in the bastion of COVIDiocy that is Douglas County, the time has finally come to throw off the tyrannical yoke of the Tri-County Health Department after the department instituted a mask “mandate” that municipalities can override if they want to. Ever since the pandemic first reached Colorado back in early March, Republicans in DougCo have raged over every kind of restriction necessary to contain the spread of the disease, to the point of inciting repeated acts of vandalism against Tri-County’s offices. But despite the resurgent growth of COVID cases in Colorado and across the nation, as the Aurora Sentinel’s Grant Stringer reports, a not-really mask “mandate” is the breaking point for DougCo commissioners:
Commissioners for the two counties covering almost all of Aurora have quickly thrown their support behind a region-wide mask mandate public health experts ordered Wednesday. The third county is threatening to divorce itself from the group.
The mask mandate, a work still in progress, prompted the Douglas County board of commissioners to now focus on leaving the long-standing, three-county health department and create one of their own.
“My fellow commissioners and I have directed staff to leave (Tri-County Health) and develop a public health department to meet the needs of our residents,” Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas said in a tweet Thursday. “We will also opt out of a mandatory mask order.”
That’s right, DougCo residents! The Republican governor of Texas may have ordered everyone in the Lone Star State to wear masks or face a $250 fine, but your board of rock-ribbed conservative Republican county commissioners are pulling your county out of the local health department and (apparently, it’s not clear yet) standing up a new health department, in the middle of a pandemic–because they think a mask “mandate” they are opting out of anyway is too much of an imposition.
The moral of these two stories? Within just a few miles of each other on the south side of the Denver metro area, you can find the worst possible official responses to the news events dominating the headlines on ready display. And though the issues may be very different, there is one common thread.
Horrifying tone deafness.