Video of a violent assault against a group of Black Lives Matter counter-protesters who showed up at a large “Back The Blue” rally outside Fort Collins, Colorado police headquarters on Saturday is making national headlines today, with media outlets left and right rushing to impart their desired spin on what appears from a straight examination of the video evidence to be one-sided violence overwhelmingly perpetrated by the “Back The Blue” pro-police rallygoers. The New York Daily News:
In video of the incident, recorded on Saturday in Fort Collins, the protesters, who were vastly outnumbered by the pro-police group, are quickly surrounded and pushed toward an open, grassy area before they are attacked with punches and hit with various objects as the groups fall over each other on a ditch. At one point a man stabs at a man in all black with an American flag on a pole and another man strikes a man who is on the ground with what looks like a baton…
“I was at the Pro Police FCPD rally today,” Ciara Wilson wrote on Instagram along with video of the violence. “Counter protestors were violently beaten and had no signs of aggression or hostility. Pro Police protestors forced them to the end of the block and then savagely assaulted them. Afterwards the COUNTER PROTESTORS WERE DETAINED. The officers did not tell them why they were being detained. The pro police protestors who literally assaulted these people for no f—ing reason other than being PSYCHOPATHS got away with it. I am so sick and tired of this.”
But as you can expect, Fox News Channel viewers are getting…a very different view of events:
Counterprotesters got involved in a violent confrontation with pro-police supporters at a Back the Blue rally in Fort Collins, Colo. Saturday, which ended with the arrests of three people.
The pro-police attendees said two different groups of counterprotesters — consisting of Black Lives Matter supporters and what appeared to be members of Antifa — joined the event. They also claimed a faction from one of those two groups attacked a veteran who was in a wheelchair…
At first, it seemed to be a peaceful conversation between members of the two groups. Once the second group of anti-racism demonstrators — dressed all in black and thought to be Antifa– showed up, things escalated and turned violent.
In the video we posted yesterday showing counter-protesters arrested by police immediately after being beaten in a ditch, there’s a reference made to an incident involving a person in a wheelchair that supposedly justified the assault on counter-protesters as they were attempting to leave the area. We have not seen any actual evidence of this having occurred, and given the amount of video footage recorded at this incident it’s questionable that evidence for this allegation has not been presented publicly. Either way, such a pretext doesn’t legally or morally justify pummeling a whole group of people indiscriminately in a ditch.
If this isn’t patently obvious to you, we can only hope your job is not law enforcement.
It appears that Fort Collins police made a significant error by arresting the victims of this beating at the scene instead of the perpetrators. At least two of the three mugshots released by FCPD appear to show individuals who were themselves assaulted by pro-police rallygoers in the video clips we posted yesterday. With that said, the investigation continues using the wealth of available footage–and we are obliged to cite in fairness, as CBS4 reports, that FCPD Chief Jeff Swoboda has some choice words for the perpetrators these attacks carried out in the name of “supporting the police.”
“You see some of the images — somebody with an American flag poking at somebody else who’s in a fight with somebody,” said Chief Jeff Swoboda. “What kind of cowardly act is that?”
Anyone with more information or video is asked to contact Detective CJ O’Loughlin at 970-416-2571.
“If there are people out there claiming to support the police but go out there in a manner that’s not consistent with our values — our values of respect and integrity and service — that T-shirt doesn’t buy you the respect of police departments. We don’t want your support if that’s the way you act out there,” Swobota said. [Pols emphasis]
Comparing this incident with a disturbingly similar assault on a “car caravan” of protesters in Teller County, where it appears that local law enforcement stood by during the attack and still have not as of this writing made any arrests, we’re relieved to see Fort Collins police clearly stating that they don’t condone violence committed by their “supporters.” With that said, they have a lot to do to make this right. Arresting the victims of this assault at the scene instead of the perpetrators was a deeply regrettable validation of the worst fears of police critics.
For Fort Collins police, regaining the public trust after this troubling incident starts with more mugshots.