Rep. Lori Saine (R), center, receiving an award from ALEC in 2017.
Last week’s most-discussed lowlight in Colorado politics, Rep. Lori Saine’s disastrous attempt to appropriate the occasion of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by asserting that blacks and whites were lynched “in almost equal numbers” for “the crime of being Republican,” could have been a one or two-day news incident with limited collateral damage for the GOP brand. The reason it didn’t stop is simple: Rep. Saine steadfastly refused to apologize, and in fact doubled down in subsequent days to inquiring press and various talk-radio audiences.
At this point, the Greeley Tribune’seditorial on the matter for today’s edition sums up the view of any smart Republican:
Shh …. Shh ….
That’s our advice to Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, who kicked over a hornets nest this past week at the Colorado Capitol when she claimed in a speech on the House floor that blacks and whites had been “lynched in nearly equal numbers” for the crime of being Republican in the aftermath of the Civil War…
We don’t see what Saine hoped to accomplish by making her remarks. Republicans in the Legislature will have their work cut out for them this session to advance their agenda as a minority party. Saine’s comments won’t make that easier. At best, they’re a needless distraction from the work lawmakers of both parties must accomplish during this year’s legislative session. At worst, they’re ignorant and distasteful.
Rep. Saine may be doing splash damage to Republicans well above and outside her stomping ground of the Colorado General Assembly, but it’s unlikely that any of this will result in a even a private reprimand from House GOP leaders. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville does not have a record of enforcing discipline on his members, since he possesses irresponsible blowhard qualities himself–not to mention a recently-demonstrated moral blind spot.
Most likely, the only way the “digging will stop” is via Rep. Saine’s impending term limit.
As the pressure on Iowa Rep. Steve Kingto resign from Congress following his controversial remarks in apparent explicit support of white supremacy goes on, Right Wing Watchreported last week on a movement among religious conservative activists to rally support for King–with a familiar face among the faithful:
Religious Right leaders and right-wing activists are rallying in support of embattled Rep. Steve King, who has been under fire since a New York Times story quoted him wondering when terms like “white nationalist,” “white supremacist,” and “Western civilization” became offensive. His comment served to highlight his long history of unabashed racism and has resulted in King being stripped of his committee assignments, as well as a wave of calls for his resignation.
Amid this controversy, Religious Right leaders are voicing their support for King, thanks to an effort organized by radical right-wing activist Janet Porter. King is a close ally of Porter’s and even introduced a federal version of her “Heartbeat Bill” in Congress in 2017 that aimed to outlaw abortion, in Porter’s words, “before the mother even knows she’s pregnant.”
Porter is currently gathering signatures for a letter in support of King that will be sent to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, urging him to issue an apology to King and reinstate his committee assignments. King and right-wing activist Ed Martin, one of the signers, slammed McCarthy earlier this week for not defending King.
And which local religious leader with one foot perennially in the door of Republican politics signed on? Why, former Rep.-turned Colorado Springs City Council candidate Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, who else!
Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, PhD
Pray in Jesus Name Ministries
Nationally Syndicated PIJN NEWS
(in 54 million homes)
Gordon Klingenschmitt’s “nationally syndicated” video ministry audience wasn’t enough to keep him afloat in Colorado politics, where he traded his hard-won House District 15 seat for a failed run for the state senate and now is hoping to get back in the game with a seat on the Colorado Springs City Council. But maybe “Dr. Chaps” has enough juice to persuade Republican leaders in Congress to go easy on America’s most famous racist not named Roseanne Barr?
Hope springs eternal, especially on the fringe of the fringe.
During a radio interview yesterday, one of the state’s most partisan Republican radio hosts essentially begged State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) to walk back her statement at the Capitol last week that blacks and whites were once lynched in “almost equal numbers.” But Saine didn’t take the hint.
First, KNUS 710-AM host Dan Caplis, tried this:
CAPLIS: “…the Greeley Tribune version of the comments, as you know, is that you said essentially that black and whites had been lynched in nearly equal numbers during Reconstruction, and lynched for being Republican. Do you want to clarify those comments? What’s your view of all that now?
SAINE: And I clearly meant [during] Reconstruction. And Reconstruction is a period from 1865-1877, by the way. There is not a tremendous amount of data for a lot of those years, but the data that we do have….
Caplis tried again:
CAPLIS: “I think one of the concerns – and one thing you may want to qualify – is the reason why people were lynched – because my guess is, and this is not something I’ve researched – but intuitively I’d guess that an awful lot of the whites who were lynched were lynched for various alleged crimes such as stealing horses, bank robbery, etc., whereas blacks were just being lynched for the color of their skin. Am I right?”
SAINE: So, I have heard that argument before, but, if you look at the lynchings earlier in the 1800s versus the numbers coming right out of Reconstruction, it’s hard to say that all of a sudden they went from – you know, if you look at 1882 its 64 whites, 49 blacks….
Then Caplis said to Saine:
CAPLIS: “But we know – don’t we? – that blacks were being lynched based on the color of their skin. And whites weren’t being lynched based on the color of their skin, right?”
SAINE: So, the accounts that we have of history that people have written books about – I mean, there is a lot of sources on this. But there’s even an African American Congressman – his name is John Lloyd Lynch….
Then Caplis finally said to Saine as an apparent last resort:
CAPLIS: “But some could easily view this as you attempting to equate the plight of whites with black when it came to lynching, or to somehow downplay the horror that was inflicted on blacks, to politicize it, to make it a Republican thing. So, can you see where people would see your comments that way?”
SAINE: Well, that certainly was not my intent. And the rest of my speech goes on to say that Americans of all faiths, creed, and race stood by Reverend King to march for civil rights. And they were beaten, they were tortured, they were killed….
PM UPDATE: The Greeley Tribune’sTyler Silvyupdates, as the story of Rep. Lori Saine’s whitewash-y revisionist history goes to hell with a disturbing quickness:
Following media reports from across the state and beyond which focused largely on Saine’s lynching comments, Saine argued with constituents on Facebook and Tuesday morning appeared on right-wing radio host Jimmy Lackey’s show.
Lackey introduced the topic by saying reaction to Saine’s comments represent revisionist history, that kids were being taught about Martin Luther King Jr. by “union hacks” and that Colorado is now a segregated state. Lackey also referred, multiple times, to Gov. Jared Polis as “our gay, Jewish governor.” [Pols emphasis]
For the record his name is properly spelled Jimmy Lakey, morning conservative radio host of the relatively obscure AM600 KCOL radio, who we didn’t realize was such an unapologetic…well, you know! But we most certainly know now, and that ought to make the Republican officeholders who regularly appear on his show think twice–at least the ones smarter about managing their public image than Lori Saine.
In any event, if the intent here was to make Rep. Saine or any Republican look better, that was not the outcome.
Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being caught with a loaded gun at DIA in December of 2017.
Less than 24 hours after you read it here first, the story of GOP Rep. Lori Saine’s wildly exaggerated estimate of white Republicans lynched following the American Civil War, made during a speech purportedly in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., has gone national–starting with the Greeley Tribunestory we updated yesterday’s post with, then the Denver Post’sAnna Staver:
A Colorado representative from Weld County claimed blacks and white Republicans were lynched in “nearly equal” numbers following Reconstruction and chastised the main sponsors of a resolution honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a speech on the House floor Friday…
Saine, Buck and dozens of other House members sponsored House Joint Resolution 19-1006, which commemorated King’s birthday. It was introduced in the House by Reps. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and Leslie Herod, D-Denver…[Rep. Herod] went on to characterize Buck’s brief floor speech on the resolution as both eloquent and in keeping with the spirit of MLK, but Herod said Saine’s remarks were “completely off base.”
“The lynching comment is extremely problematic, in the sense that it really does kind of take away and hide some of the dark past that this country has faced,” Herod said Monday. “And if we’re not honest about our history, if we don’t face our past, then we’ll never be able to move forward as nation and a country. And so her comments really sought, I think, to water down the realities of the march for justice and for civil rights.”
Saine said she delivered the comments with little preparation, based on things she’d read. She clarified that she meant only the earliest days of post-Civil War Reconstruction. However, the article Saine said she referenced is an amateur statistical analysis that looks at data from a later period and makes no reference to party affiliation.
Saine, a Republican representative, backed up her remarks on Monday, all in support of a white state representative who was shunned from introducing a resolution to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In her statement that was televised, Saine said whites were lynched more often than blacks “in the beginning,” and also acknowledged that blacks were collectively lynched at a far-higher pace over the next seven or eight decades.
Saine claimed whites and blacks were all lynched for the simple fact of being a Republican, which caught one college professor in the state off guard.
While lynchings of white, Hispanic and Native American people have taken place in the United States and Republicans were targeted during Reconstruction, evidence points to African-Americans being by far the greatest number of victims of lynchings, which were used as a tool for racial suppression.
According to the NAACP, nearly 73 percent of people who were lynched from 1882 to 1968 were black. Many of the white people who were lynched were being punished for helping black people, the NAACP said. It noted that many lynchings were not recorded.
The political affiliation of those who suffered this punishment was not recorded in the NAACP’s statistics. University of Northern Colorado professor Fritz Fischer said Saine’s assertion was incorrect.
“Blacks were lynched for the ‘crime of being black’ which obviously isn’t a crime – and not even close to equal numbers,” Fischer told The Greeley Tribune. “I suppose there were a certain number of blacks who were lynched who were Republican. But that was coincidental.”
With more stories going to print as we write, it won’t be long before everyone with even late-night talk show familiarity with current events hears about the Republican from Colorado who said white people were lynched as often as black people. The added insult of claiming lynchings of African Americans were for “the crime of being Republican” is not just inaccurate but a complete whitewash of the ensuing century of history, in which the Republican Party willingly morphed into the party of holdout Southern racism.
As for Rep. Lori Saine? This is hardly the first time she has shoveled shame on Colorado Republicans, having made national headlines for getting caught with a loaded handgun at a DIA security checkpoint in 2017, then introducing bills to weaken Colorado’s gun laws–not to mention underscoring Sen. Vicki Marble’s nationally infamous monologue about “problems in the black race” with heart disease by bringing fried chicken to the next hearing.
We’ve said it before: Lori Saine is a walking, talking disaster for the Republican brand.
There’s been a great deal of debate in the last couple of days over an incident Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., caught on video from a number of angles, of a confrontation between a Native American veteran and a group of high school students wearing red “MAGA” hats. The Trump supporter teens were at the tail end of the anti-abortion March for Life, Native American drummer Nathan Phillips had participated in the simultaneous Indigenous People’s March, and still another group of unrelated protesters was on the scene resulting in a toxic brew of mutual antagonism that as of this writing has still not been conclusively sorted out.
Unless you’re Todd Brophy, cousin of longtime state Sen. Greg Brophy and himself the losing 2016 GOP candidate for Aurora’s House District 40, who posted this straightforward interpretation of events to the Facebook page of the Arapahoe County Republicans yesterday:
For anyone hoping to see tensions reduced after another racially divisive national news incident, this won’t help.
But unlike at least some of the participants, Todd Brophy isn’t bullshitting you about his reaction.
Rep. Dave Williams (R), Congressman Steve King (R-IA).
Colorado Christian University “generally” doesn’t repeat speakers at its annual conservative gathering near Denver, said the event’s director Jeff Hunt when asked whether a Republican Congressman, who advised people not to be offended by white supremacy, would be invited to the annual event again this July.
Iowa Congressman Steve King, who made the comments to the New York Times, spoke at the last year’s Western Conservative Summit, billed as the “largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington D.C.”
Other top shelf Republican speakers last year included then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then EPA chief Scott Pruitt, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), and U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). Gardner has spoken there multiple times.
On a House floor speech, “King argued he was saying terms like white supremacist, white nationalist and Nazi were ‘almost always unjustly labeling otherwise innocent people,” according to the Des Moines Register.
In the wake of a controversial comment by King in 2010, then congressional candidate Cory Gardner canceled a joint fundraiser with the Iowa Congressman.
King is now facing disciplinary action from fellow U.S. House Republicans after he told the New York Times it was wrong to consider white nationalism and white supremacy offensive.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King told The New York Times Jan. 10. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told CNN over the weekend that he would meet with King today and “action will be taken.”
As 2018 draws to a close and we begin to reflect on what we probably all agree was another strange year, I’d like to offer this as an emblem of where we’re at: progressive women along Colorado’s Front Range are going around destroying neo-Nazi propaganda that appears to have been strategically placed near — wait for it — Pokemon Go waypoints.
The propaganda is being disseminated by the recently formed white nationalist group Identity Evropa, which in recent months has been ramping up activity in the Rocky Mountain region. They gained notoriety after helping organize 2017’s Unite the Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counter-protester was murdered, and recently held a rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park.
Their goal? Lure young white men with conservative leanings into the white supremacist fold to revitalize the image of their movement and bring it into the mainstream.
Yesterday evening, the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives posted a link to their Facebook page that immediately raised eyebrows–not so much because of the subject matter, but rather the source:
That’s not a misprint: the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives posted to Facebook linking to the Daily Stormer, one of the nation’s–perhaps one of the world’s–most scurrilously white supremacist websites, which fought a running battle against internet service providers in the last couple of years to remain accessible outside the “dark web.”
Not long after this link was posted, somebody let them know:
The problem is that these two links are not to the same story whatsoever. “BizPacReview” is a fringe-right internet property that has long been regarded as a source of fake news, but the Daily Stormer piece includes extremely provocative anti-Semitic statements that we have real trouble imagining could be overlooked while reading it. Readers are free to hunt either down if they choose, we won’t be linking to them.
But this means either the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives member who posted this link didn’t read the story, or they did–and weren’t troubled by the words “smashing k—-s.”
Looking to re-energize their caucus following sweeping losses at the ballot box last month, Colorado Republicans held a retreat in Sedalia immediately after the election. The event featured controversial writer and pundit David Horowitz as a keynote speaker.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Horowitz as an “Anti-Muslim fanatic” and lists David Horowitz as an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim extremist. It describes his David Horowitz Freedom Center as “a platform to project hate and misinformation.”
Horowitz published the text of his speech on his website. It’s clear from his first sentence that he wasn’t pulling any punches:
Horowitz: Here’s my lesson from the recent election in my newly adopted state: You’re too damn nice. Democrats call Republicans “racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes” and “Nazis.” And Republicans call Democrats … “liberals.” Stop it! What are Democrats liberal about except sex, drugs, spending other people’s money, coddling criminals, giving America’s mortal enemies like Iran the benefit of the doubt, nuclear weapons and billions in cash to finance their terrorist activities, and opening borders to terrorists, sexual predators and whoever comes along? Democrats don’t even believe in due process any more. Innocent until proven guilty? That’s for aging white men – Republicans. The Democrats are satisfied with guilt by accusation. The Democratic Party is a party of racists, character assassins and, oh, liars. Say it.
For a party looking to broaden its appeal to an increasingly diverse Colorado electorate, the choice of Horowitz is puzzling. His recent appearance at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in August led several large corporations to drop their ALEC memberships in protest. Verizon left in September, stating,
“Our company has no tolerance for racist, white supremacist or sexist comment or ideals.”
As outrage over Horowitz’s speech grew, ALEC distanced itself from him in a statement and removed video of his speech from their site. That wasn’t enough to stem the tide of companies abandoning the organization, however.
Last Friday, industry titans AT&T, Dow Chemical and Honeywell, also quit ALEC over Horowitz’s speech.
Horowitz, who said via email that he did not charge for his appearance, was invited by State Sens. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) and Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) .
Lundberg dismissed concerns about Horowitz’s beliefs and positions, telling the Colorado Times Recorder he was aware of the concerns raised by companies that dropped their ALEC memberships, so he listened to the speech before inviting Horowitz to speak to the Republican caucus. He did not find the speech to be racist.
Lundberg: “I believe he had some very salient points to make. He doesn’t mince words. He dives right in and tells you what he thinks in a very forthright manner. He does have some observations that are worth paying attention to… I came to the conclusion that Mr. Horowitz was not being fairly represented, and I felt he has valuable things to say to the Colorado Republican caucus and so I asked him to speak to us and he did.”
Lundberg expressed disappointment that ALEC “capitulated” to “bullying” in issuing its statement disavowing Horowitz’s speech. He noted that “ALEC does an incredibly good job in informing and empowering state legislators with the basic principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.”
Bracamontes was next arrested May 4, 2001, on marijuana charges in Maricopa County, and deported three days later. Republican George W. Bush was president at the time, and was president when Bracamontes slipped back into the United States a short time later.
The date of his re-entry is not clear, but records show Bracamontes was married in Maricopa County on Feb. 28, 2002, when Bush was president.
By then, Bracamontes had been living near Salt Lake City where he remained until 2014, when he and his wife embarked upon a methamphetamine-fueled trip that ended with their arrests in Placer County after the deputies were killed.
Meaning that in addition to being twisted and outlandishly racist, this ad is also lying.
CNN reports, and it would be a profound shock at any other moment:
In the most racially charged national political ad in 30 years, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party accuse Democrats of plotting to help people they depict as Central American invaders overrun the nation with cop killers.
The new web video, tweeted by the President five days before the midterm elections, is the most extreme step yet in the most inflammatory closing argument of any campaign in recent memory.
The Trump campaign ad is the latest example of the President’s willingness to lie and fear-monger in order to tear at racial and societal divides; to embrace demagoguery to bolster his own political power and the cause of the Republican midterm campaign.
The web video in question, which has over 3 million views via President Donald Trump’s Twitter account alone, depicts an undocumented cop-killer from California bragging about his crimes before cutting to selected clips of the migrant caravan of asylum seekers making its way north through Mexico toward the U.S. border. It’s being compared to some of the worst race-baiting political ads in modern political history, from the Willie Horton ads against Michael Dukakis in 1988 to the infamous Jesse Helms “White Hands” ad invoking white resentment to affirmative action.
But in context with current events, it’s actually far worse than any of those.
Given the horrific violence that misinformation about this caravan of people who intend to seek asylum from the U.S. government in the event they reach the southern border weeks from now has provoked, including the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people last Saturday, this video making a totally unjustified connection from a violent criminal to this caravan is incredibly irresponsible. Less than a few days after an act of misguided violence over this same dreadfully overhyped caravan that shocked the nation, the President of the United States is inciting further violence rather than trying to bring Americans together.
After two years in which it seems like every boundary self-imposed by civil society and common decency has been shattered by this heedless monster of a President, this could honestly be the worst yet. At a moment when the President should be backing the nation away from the brink, this one is pushing us closer.
Whatever happens next Tuesday, this is a very sad moment in American history.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s deadly attack on a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, capping a week of political violence that included a racially motivated shooting in Kentucky and pipe bombs mailed by a pro-Trump Floridian to numerous Democratic leaders and other critics of President Donald Trump, NBC News reported on an underlying spike in social media attacks on Jewish people in particular–using code language anyone who follows politics locally or nationally ought to recognize.
Separate researchers who were independently looking at [Instagram and Twitter] said attacks on Jewish people had spiked on both services ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 6, similar to a rise in harassment before the 2016 presidential election.
Many but not all of the posts mention billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, the researchers said. Soros is frequently the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories, and his home was among the targets in a series of attempted bombings this month. [Pols emphasis]
Jonathan Albright, a researcher at Columbia University in New York who directs a center on digital forensics, told NBC News that the amount of anti-Semitic material posted to Instagram and tied to Soros was possibly the worst sample of hate speech he had seen on the site.
Billionaire investor George Soros has served as a boogeyman for the far right for many years, stemming from his support both for Democratic candidates and liberal nonprofit organizations working in support of a wide range of progressive agenda items. Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapletonregularly invokes Soros as a villain on the campaign trail. In truth, conservative funders from Sheldon Adelson to the Koch Brothers spend vastly more on American politics than Soros–but Soros has been the subject of intense vilification because he was born in Europe, and perceived to be a corrupting foreign influence by the nativist right.
And of course, George Soros is Jewish.
RYAN WARNER: …Recently it was reported that Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, will be investing in your campaign perhaps to the tune of as much as a million dollars. While it sounds like that money might be welcome when you look at what your opponent is spending, I wonder what kind of influence comes with a sizeable contribution like that.
WALKER STAPLETON: Probably the same kind of influence that comes from Good Jobs Colorado which is being backed by checks from George Soros, a wealthy international financier… [Pols emphasis]
Full stop. The term “wealthy international financier” has stood in for “Jew” among anti-Semitic bigots literally for centuries. Henry Ford’s infamous anti-Semitic book The International Jew was entirely based on the trope of wealthy Jews controlling the world through financial treachery and a lack of national loyalties, like its forged predecessor The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In terms of identifying thinly-concealed prejudice against Jewish people, the phrase can be fairly considered a dead giveaway.
So the next logical question is, Did Walker Stapleton use these words by accident?
The answer: we don’t think so. And here’s why.
Stapleton was nominated for governor at the Republican State Assembly this year by former Congressman Tom Tancredo. Tancredo is a past board member of the openly racist organization VDARE, which had planned to host its annual conference in Colorado Springs but was turned away after negative press. Tancredo’s anger over the supposed bad treatment of VDARE led him to first consider a run for governor himself, then to endorse Stapleton once he was satisfied Stapleton took the “issue” seriously. If you go to VDARE’s website to read about Jewish people, this is the kind of thing you’ll find:
Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies. The objective has been control of economic resources and political power. One example: overwhelming Jewish support for non-traditional immigration, which has the effect of weakening America’s historic white majority. [Pols emphasis]
The individual in custody for the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh entered the building screaming “All Jews Must Die,” and in his social media rantings before the attack peddled conspiracy theories that Jewish immigration groups were funding the “caravan” of asylum seekers slowly traveling north through Mexico toward the U.S. border. The attack in Pittsburgh on Saturday was a direct expression of the ideology promoted by VDARE as you can read above. The ideology of Tom Tancredo. The man who nominated Walker Stapleton.
The same Walker Stapleton now demonizing “wealthy international financier” George Soros.
Stapleton’s embrace of Tom Tancredo, like Donald Trump himself, was not an accident. Employing Tancredo to tacitly reassure far-right voters about Stapleton’s own views was not an accident. The hatred being stirred up in order to turn out conservative votes across the nation and right here in Colorado, from fact-free conspiracy theories about “Soros funding the caravan” to Stapleton’s own ad campaigns vilifying so-called “sanctuary cities,” is not an accident. Based on these facts, we have absolutely no reason to believe that Stapleton’s choice of specific racist code words to describe Mr. Soros was an accident either.
At some point, you have to stop being polite and call this out for what it is.
After the deadliest hate crime against Jewish people in American history, the time has come.
Grady Nouis, the Republican candidate for an Arvada area statehouse seat in the Colorado legislature, talks a lot about crime. He’s primarily concerned that so-called “sanctuary cities” endanger residents, because undocumented immigrants who may live in these cities commit crimes, particularly drug crimes.
In the summer of 2005, Nouis was arrested and charged with felony manufacturing of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He ultimately pled guilty to “maintaining a drug house” and possession of marijuana.
The arrest report, obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder via a source, explains how the police discovered Nouis’ suspected mushroom grow operation. He was living in a house owned by his parents in Grand Blanc, Michigan. They had moved to another city and were planning to sell the house in Grand Blanc. A realtor, believing their son to have returned to college, entered to prepare the house for a showing. She discovered numerous syringes and mason jars filled with a clear liquid and topped with plastic tubing. Believing she had discovered a methamphetamine lab, she called the police. After entering the property themselves, the police determined that it was a “psilocybin mushroom grow operation.”
“As we cleared the rest of the residence, we continued to find evidence of a psilocybin mushroom grow operation. We observed several dehydrating/drying units, packaged mushrooms ready for sale, the spores need to grow mushrooms a makeshift greenhouse made out of large plastic tubs with mushrooms growing along with various other items.”
According to court records, Nouis was initially charged with one felony count of “manufacture of psilocybin,” and one misdemeanor count of “possession of marijuana.” A plea bargain reduced the felony manufacturing charge to another misdemeanor, “maintaining a drug house.” Nouis was sentenced to three years of probation and paid fees and fines totaling $1,660.
Since declaring his candidacy for the Colorado statehouse in December of 2016, Westminster Republican Grady Nouis has promoted and participated in several far-right rallies organized by hate and extremist groups. Furthermore, he’s documented his participation in numerous videos, including one where he shouts the n-word during an argument with African-American couple in Denver’s Civic Center Park.
Last summer, the first since Trump’s election, saw marked increase in alt-right rallies across the country, including several here in Colorado.
After attending a Colorado Proud Boys rally in Boulder on June 3, 2017, Nouis posted news coverage of the event and noted that he would “proudly stand” with the Proud Boys.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled that organization a hate group in 2016. The SPLC notes that the self-described group of “Western chauvinists… regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists.”
Just a week later he joined an “Anti-Sharia” rally at the state Capitol, at which he was one of the announced speakers. Nouis had been heavily promoting the event online, and once it took place he live-streamed much of the event.
The June 10 rally was one of 23 simultaneous rallies organized by an anti-Muslim hate group, Act for America. SPLC’s reasoning for the hate group designation? “Act for America pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam.”
During the event, Nouis shared a video of state troopers escorting him and his fellow far-right extremists away from counter-protesters. At approximately the 8:45 mark of the video, he repeatedly shouts the n-word during an argument with African American bystanders in Civic Center Park.
Every year, Republican lawmakers gather at Tom Ready’s Steak Fry fundraiser. Ready is an unapologetic racist and anti-government conspiracy theorist whose annual backyard BBQ nevertheless continues to draw GOP candidates and elected officials of all levels, including Congressman Scott Tipton.
Ready’s history of overt racism, homophobia and Islamophobia has been well-documented by the Colorado Times Recorder in the past. The post on the left is from a couple years ago.
He continues to do so today, with posts like this one about NFL players.
Confirmed attendees at this year’s event include Congressman Scott Tipton, State Sens. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), HD46 Jonathan Ambler, HD47 candidate Don Bendell, HD62 candidate Scott Honeycutt, Pueblo County Commissioner District 3 candidate Zach Swearingen, University of Colorado Regent Glen Gallegos, and Marla Spinuzzi Reichert, chair of the Pueblo County Republicans.
Reproductive rights activists are saying they were the target of a Nazi slur last month at a campaign event for Colorado’s Republican candidate for governor.
The activists were protesting at the July 13 Walker Stapleton campaign event to raise awareness about threats to abortion rights following the recent announcement that President Trump would appoint Brett Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The event, which was hosted by the Jefferson County Republican Party, featured Stapleton and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO).
According to five protesters, following the event, a man they had previously seen walking from the venue to his car carrying a “Walker Stapleton for Governor” yard sign drove up next to them and yelled “Sieg Heil” out the window while holding his arm outstretched in a Nazi salute.
“He was so close we could have touched the car,” said Katie Farnan of the progressive activist group Indivisible Front Range Resistance.
Tom Tancredo is always comfortable in front of a microphone, even when his words are making his audience uncomfortable. That’s exactly what the most prominent Republican to endorse Walker Stapleton did July 30 at the Jefferson County Republican Men’s club, when he delivered racist comments about black student athletes at his alma mater, Northeastern Junior College.
Musing about the racial and religious quotas imposed on his college’s dormitories by the Klan-influenced local government, Tancredo, a former Congressman, wondered why the restrictions didn’t apply to the whole school rather than just the students at the residences:
Tancredo: “I always wondered, why just the dorms? If you’re gonna have a quota, why not on everything. I dunno, they needed black players, I guess, on the team.”
The anti-immigrant firebrand’s influence with the GOP base is exactly why Stapleton asked the conservative icon to introduce and nominate him at the Republican state assembly. That said, Tancredo’s remark about the Klan’s relaxed racial quota when it came to black athletes fell flat on the conservative audience, which appeared to be shocked by the comment.
Undeterred, he stuck with his racist theme by promoting “a great book,” Losing Ground by Charles Murray, which argues for abolishing welfare. The sociologist has also argued that African-Americans tend to be less intelligent than white Americans and that genetic differences between the races are partially responsible. Current Affairs magazine wrote an extensive profile of Murray’s racist writings in a feature piece, “Why Is Charles Murray Odious?” Tancredo acknowledged the author’s controversial status, noting, “Of course, everyone gets scared the minute you say his name.”
Yet he proceeded to rattle off statistics from the book, showing a decline in numbers of traditional nuclear African-American families and an increase in “black-on-black murders” since the 1950s and ascribing that decline to “the war on poverty.” “[The government] started paying people not to have a male in the household.”
He went on to claim that African-Americans “used to have a higher commitment to Christianity than whites,” but “that’s all changed and it was because of the destruction of the family structure.”
In Tancredo’s other roles, including frontman for an anti-immigrant 501c4 nonprofit, occasional radio host, and social media personality, his continual race-baiting and sometimes flat-out racist statements fall on generally friendly ears.
Ever since Walker Stapleton used Tancredo’s name and brand to secure the Republican nomination however, pundits have noted that ultra-conservative firepower that proved so useful before the primary will likely become a liability in November.
Mike Littwin made this exact point in his July 25 column in the Colorado Independent, writing “Enter Tancredo, who was brought in to help Stapleton appeal to the assembly’s right-wing fringe. It worked then. But how about in November?”
“I think Walker Stapleton is making a number of strategic errors here… To have Tom Tancredo give his nominating speech at the convention in Boulder…you don’t think that one will come back to bite him come September, October, etc.? In tennis, it’s called ‘unforced errors.’”
In his speech nominating Walker Stapleton to Colorado Republicans at the state assembly in April, Tancredo gave two reasons for his presence.
First he said it was because “the day after the election, I want to see all those liberal looneys running with their heads in their hands, looking for a safe space because they can’t handle what just happened to them.”
He concluded by saying, “the only reason I am here and I am proud as I can be to do it, is to place into the nomination for the Republican governor of Colorado, Walker Stapleton.”
If Tancredo continues to make blatantly racist statements in public and the pundits are correct, then some people will indeed have their heads in their hands November 7, just not the ones Tancredo is thinking of.
“Lucia” (not her real name) speaks about the pain of being separated from her children by ICE. Photos by Amalthea Aelwyn, used with permission
Lucia’s* voice is cracking. She can’t hold back the tears as she describes being incarcerated in the GEO Group ICE detention facility, where a crowd is gathered now to hear her.
“Lucia”* fled her father’s abuse and horrific civil war in Guatemala to come to the US in 1998. She went to school here, but had to drop out of high school when her mother died of cancer.
“Lucia” has raised a family, worked, and made a life here, but when her husband was pulled over at a traffic stop, both were incarcerated in the ICE facility in Aurora. For a week, her children had no idea where their parents were, or if they were alive or dead. They finally were able to post $1000 bond each, and are now working their way through the system, trying not to be deported, trying to keep their family together.
Marguerite and Cristian addressing the crowd at Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Amalthea Aelwyn, used with permission
Cristian from Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is a vibrant young man with a wide smile. He is a student leader at his college.
But Cris is a Dreamer, and if DACA protections are rescinded, he could be deported at any time.
He tells the story of how his mother carried him and his young sister over the border, and how she has worked ever since to maintain the family.
“My mother has been on that waiting list (for citizenship) since 1999,” he said. “My whole family pays local taxes, we pay into Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, we pay Federal taxes, local taxes, sales taxes. We pay for programs we will never benefit from. We’re helping to take care of our nation’s children, of our senior citizens. We are not a burden. The real burden is the moral burden Trump is imposing on this country with these policies.”
Marguerite, from Colombia, said,“ I see this building behind you and it pains me. It hurts. Because I would have to wait in line to see my son. He waited for months there to be deported back to Colombia. There is no illegal human being on this earth. The only way we can become illegal is to break our laws and hurt each other. But we’re not doing that.”
Lucia, Cristian, and Marguerite are speaking to a diverse crowd of about two hundred people, gathered in front of GEO group’s vast, windowless, grim ICE facility in Aurora on June 14, 2018, to protest the Trump administration’s new policy of separating families who are crossing the border.
I am part of this protest. We are here because we feel that we must “do something” to stop the atrocity of tearing families apart and incarcerating the young children of families who come here seeking asylum.
Over 11,000 children have been separated from their families while crossing the southern border since March, according to NPR. About 46 kids a day are being torn away from their parents. This is not including the unaccompanied minors who were already showing up at the border by the thousands.
Walker Stapleton endorser Tom Tancredo has partnered with State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) and his son Joe Neville to promote political messaging that reflects the anti-immigrant rhetoric of President Trump and pushes the limits of limits of inflammatory and race-baiting statements.
The new Tancredo-fronted group, Citizens for Secure Borders, claims to be “dedicated to providing the public with information regarding key issues related to preserving and promoting the safety and security of the public.” The group’s 501(c)4 articles of incorporation lists the home of Sen. Neville as its “principal office street address.” Its three board members are Joe Neville and two of his employees at consulting firm Rearden Strategic. Both Aaron Yates and Brandon Wark, like Joe Neville himself, are former employees of Dudley Brown’s right-wing gun rights advocacy groups, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners & National Association of Gun Rights.
Denver7 reports, President Donald Trump’s latest slam on National Football League players–which occurred even after the NFL announced a new highly controversial policy regarding the national anthem at games intended to mollify Trump–is too much for Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall:
The NFL decided that players and league personnel on the sideline must stand for the anthem, while permitting those uncomfortable with this rule to remain in the locker room. President Donald Trump, who galvanized NFL players last September when he called for owners to “fire” those who disrespect the anthem, applauded the league’s new policy. Trump suggested players who protest “shouldn’t be in the country.”
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall called Trump’s comments “disgusting.”
“I say disgusting because of our First Amendment rights. We have freedom of speech, freedom to protest. So if somebody protests something, now we get someone kicked out of the country? That’s not how things should work in my opinion,” Marshall said. “We are supposed to have a conversation about things, talk about things, work things through. Everybody is not going to agree. Everybody is not going to have the same opinion. Just because somebody has an issue with something going on in this country they should pack up and leave? That’s absurd.” [Pols emphasis]
Marshall and All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris admitted they understood why the league adopted the policy, with Marshall explaining, “I don’t like it, but they are trying to protect the shield.” However, both believe the players should have been consulted before revisions were made…
The NFL’s new policy requiring players to either stand respectfully for the national anthem or stay in the locker room until the anthem is over comes as a direct response to Trump’s wild demagoguery on the issue, which is asserted to have in turn caused conservative football fans to slacken their attendance and viewership of NFL games. The players, for their part, deny that their protest is meant to be unpatriotic–merely calling attention to a critical issue leveraging the camera time they are given.
So, you have all of that. Then, despite the fact that the NFL has essentially surrendered to Trump on the issue over the free speech rights of its players, Trump still can’t leave well enough alone. The President keeps going, ridiculously suggesting that NFL players, American citizens, be kicked out of the country if they don’t stand for the national anthem.
Is there anyone out there willing to defend this? We just don’t see how you can.
Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams and his “deportation bus.”
Mother Jones’Pema Levyreports on the Republican gubernatorial primary in the state of Georgia–a race setting new and unsettling precedent for its open appeals to racism, and even vigilante violence against undocumented immigrants:
The Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia has devolved in recent weeks into a chest-thumping argument over which candidate hates undocumented immigrants the most. In their rush to prove themselves, two candidates—both currently elected officials—have engaged in an escalating competition over who can personally “round up” and remove more immigrants from the state.
In a television ad released May 9, Brian Kemp—who serves as Georgia’s secretary of state and was formerly a state legislator—suggests he intends to personally detain and remove immigrants from the country. “I got a big truck,” he says, climbing into a pick-up truck, “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.” He then adds with a smirk: “Yep, I just said that.”
“His ad is beyond anti-immigrant, as he quite literally threatens to abduct individuals,” Stephanie Cho, executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, said in a statement. “Georgia needs a governor who…does not promote reckless vigilantism.”
But state Sen. Michael Williams, another GOP primary candidate, disagrees. So Williams saw Kemp’s pick-up truck—and raised him a bus.
On Wednesday, Williams launched a multi-county campaign tour in his “Deportation Bus.” Metal grating covers the windows of the gray bus, and the words “Fill this bus with illegals” run along its side. On the back it reads: “Danger! Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters, and others on board.”
This is all taking place despite the fact that GOP-dominated Georgia already has laws on the books severely penalizing so-called “sanctuary cities” that have essentially eliminated in that state the sort of complaints traditionally made about American cities that “don’t cooperate” with federal immigration officials. Georgia is a state in which the “solutions” controversially proposed to this issue have already been implemented–but as you can see, the demagoguery against immigrants has only gotten worse.
It’s just another example of the normalization of rhetoric only heard on the distant fringe of American politics before Donald Trump became President. In previous years, the absolutely horrific things coming out of these mainstream gubernatorial candidates’ mouths would be national news, with every Republican in the land forced to either validate or condemn it.
In Donald Trump’s America, this barely registers. That could be even worse than what they’re saying.
Advancing Colorado’s May 4 Facebook post, which referenced a comment former First Lady Michelle Obama made in a graduation speech, generated numerous comments, many of which were blatantly racist, sexist or transphobic. The post noted that Obama acknowledged a nickname actor Nick Cannon gave her, calling her his “Forever First Lady.”
Advancing Colorado, a right-wing online activist group, shared it with the tagline, “How big is your head, Michelle?”
Here’s the very first comment:
The post was shared by State Rep. Judy Reyher (R-Swink), who is already known for sharing racist memes on Facebook. Other commenters stated that Obama is not really a woman, or used images of monkeys.
The story of two teenagers of Native American descent who traveled at great personal expense from New Mexico to Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus for an official prospective student tour, only to be detained by campus police while the tour moved on without them, in national news this weekend as the New York Timesreports:
A pair of Native American brothers who had traveled seven hours to tour Colorado State University this week had their visit cut short after a parent on their tour reported them to the campus police.
The parent, a mother, became suspicious after they joined the tour in progress, telling a 911 dispatcher that their behavior and clothing stood out, according to audio from the call.
Body camera footage shows two police officers pulling the brothers aside as they descended a set of stairs. There, the officers briefly questioned the brothers, Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, 17. The officers soon let the pair rejoin the tour, but by then their guide — apparently unaware that the police had been summoned — had moved on, the university said in a statement.
The teenagers returned to the admissions office and were told that nothing could be done to complete their tour, they said. Frustrated, they embarked on the long trip home to Santa Cruz, N.M.
Traveling on a limited budget with no local accommodations, being separated from the tour group resulted in their long-planned trip to tour CSU being a complete failure. The leader of the tour says she was not aware that the students had been separated from the tour by police, and in her profuse apologies strongly refuted the allegation that the boys had acted threateningly in any way. The school, which has seen other recent examples of on-campus racism, is likewise going into full apologetic crisis comms mode, offering the two a VIP tour and reimbursement of all their expenses.
The person who called 911 on these two prospective students has not been personally identified, described as a white woman in her mid-forties who was the mother of another prospective student on the tour. At several points during her call she expresses some unease about what she’s doing, but not enough to call off her report that they were suspicious. Her overall tone during the discussion does not suggest conscious or malicious racism–just the concern of a middle-aged white American woman whose culturally homogenous personal space has been suddenly violated in the cosmopolitan setting of one of the state’s biggest university campuses.
What happened to these two Native American students touring CSU more correctly falls under the category of what’s known as implicit racism–racism that occurs as a result of subconscious prejudice, and manifests in the form of a conscious fear response. The white woman who called the cops on these Native American kids seems to have avoided racial identifiers in her description of them to the 911 operator, but based on the tour guide’s insistence that the two were not acting abnormally, other motives for her fear of them don’t make sense. Likewise, the responding officers were not overtly racist in their questioning of the boys based on the body camera footage–though a significant portion of the exchange appears to have been muted for unknown reasons–but their aggressive pat-downs and admonishments for what turned out to be mere shyness raise legitimate questions about whether a white kid would have been treated the same way.
In the end, what we have here is a systemic failure, and a cultural failure, for which one individual has responsibility for initiating a racist incident but an entire supporting structure of implicit racism was required for the situation to go as badly as it did. Innumerable steps along the way, from the reflexive fear of the woman who called the police to the cops’ initial treatment of the students to the income disparity that constricted the students’ travel options–created a perfect storm of avoidable problems that makes Colorado once again look in the eyes of the whole nation like a place where people who don’t fit into the white upper-income suburban homogenous cultural bubble are not welcome.
You may or may not feel a personal sense of guilt over what these kids went through. But responsibility for making sure what happened here does not happen again lies with all of us.
A decision by the History Colorado museum to remove references to former Denver Mayor Benjamin F. Stapleton in its Ku Klux Klan exhibit, even though he’s one of the most prominent Klansmen in Colorado history, has led Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Barlock to accuse fellow GOP candidate Walker Stapleton of directing his family’s foundation to donate to the museum to cover up the Stapletons’ white supremacist roots.
The display, which describes the history of the KKK’s political influence in Colorado, currently does not mention Denver’s former mayor, but he was referenced multiple times in History Colorado’s display on the Klan before the exhibit was replaced and altered in 2012, when the museum moved to a new building, according to archival photos provided by the museum to the Colorado Times Recorder.
Mayor Stapleton, who was Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s great-grandfather, was a high-ranking member of the KKK. He served as Denver Mayor from 1923 to 1931, during which time the white supremacist group exercised political influence throughout the state, and in Denver in particular, by electing a handful of members and allies into government offices.
The new display, which sits within the “Colorado Stories” exhibit, references the Klan’s “17,000 members in Denver alone,” and how they “voted allies into the governor’s mansion and throughout the state legislature,” but fails to mention the mayor.
In contrast, the old display, which featured many of the same artifacts, had text panels that made multiple mentions of the mayor’s office.
As the old version of the display explains, “Parades, rallies, auto races, charitable events, patronage of Klansman-owned businesses, and support from a sympathetic mayor pushed membership in Denver’s robed legions to more than 17,000.”
Jerry Sonnenberg is winding up his first term in the Colorado Senate. He is up for re-election in 2018, and no one has stepped up to run against him. Sonnenberg ran unopposed for his first Senate term, and for all four of his previous House terms, until he was termed out in 2014. No wonder he doesn’t return liberal constituent’s phone calls – he feels pretty safe ignoring their concerns. What are they going to do, run a Democrat against him?
State Sen. Vicki Marble, left, speaking to 11-year-old Ames Mayfield.
Kicking off our recap of the top ten stories in Colorado politics for 2017 is another story about one of Colorado’s most consistently off-message state lawmakers–GOP Sen. Vicki Marble of Larimer County, representing a long stretch of northern Colorado suburbs, exurbs, and agricultural communities along the I-25 corridor. A few years ago, Sen. Marble made national headlines for a now-infamous lecture in a Capitol hearing on health problems caused by African-Americans eating so much damned chicken. Marble’s unfortunate response to that rather straightforward controversy deepened her self-dug hole, and the embarrassment only slowly faded with time–after delivering a big fat black eye to the Republican brand well outside the boundaries of the state of Colorado.
You might think based on that disastrous experience that Republicans in Sen. Marble’s district would be…you know, careful about putting her in the spotlight, since like Forrest Gump said about a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get. Or in Sen. Marble’s case you do know what you’re going to get, and it’s all the gross chocolates nobody wants.
When Ames Mayfield’s Cub Scout den met with a Colorado state senator last week, the 11-year-old came prepared with a long list of typed-up questions. He excitedly raised his hand to ask his first one…
But after the meeting, the leader of Ames’s Cub Scout pack, which oversees various dens, requested a meeting with his mother. The leader told Ames’s mother, Lori Mayfield, that her son was kicked out of his Cub Scout den, the mother said in an email to The Washington Post.
The son’s den leader was apparently upset over Ames’s questions, particularly the one on gun control, Mayfield said. The mother was told her son’s question was disrespectful and too political. [Pols emphasis]
…After Mayfield posted the videos on YouTube, the website Colorado Pols published a story about the senator’s exchange with the Cub Scouts. It was after this article published that Ames’s pack leader requested a meeting with his mother.
Ex-Rep. Don Beezley (R).
Looking deeper into the local Cub Scout organization that included Ames Mayfield’s pack, we found much evidence to suggest the entire operation is “too political”–just not in the direction of Mayfield’s politics. We were genuinely surprised to learn that of the leaders of this Cub Scout pack is former Rep. Don Beezley of Broomfield, who can accurately be described as a fringe blowhard on par with Marble herself. And although the Cub Scout pack invited one of the Colorado General Assembly’s most controversial Republican lawmakers to speak to a bunch of children, we’ve never seen anything to suggest a Democrat was ever similarly invited.
And that’s all before we address the substance of Sen. Marble’s responses to Mayfield’s questions, which were wildly age-inappropriate. Marble graphically described cases of rape and murder to Cub Scouts. Marble’s wholesale denial of the previous “ChickenGate” controversy earned her a public shaming from the Denver Post’s editorial board, but we come back to Marble’s disturbing justifications for carrying weapons to young children as the worst aspect of a story long on lowlights. Kids should not be subjected to this stuff. Yes, if Ames Mayfield hadn’t had hard questions for Marble, she might not have said some of it. But it was all in her waiting to be said. And what appears to be the partisan political leadership of this Cub Scout pack knew it full well.
In the end, Sen. Vicki Marble’s second trip under the national microscope helped add to a coalescing national narrative of a Republican Party offensively out of touch with the electorate they represent–and tone-deaf enough to not just make a fool of themselves in a closed setting, but double down on said foolishness before an incredulous national media.
Which makes her a fitting microcosm of today’s Republican Party.