Polis Rips Trump Threat To Send In Army, Gardner Silent

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s Jon Murray reports:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that violence during recent nightly protests in Denver overshadowed demonstrators’ “righteous” message, but he rebuked calls by President Donald Trump and others to activate the military to put down civil unrest in cities across the country.

“This is not China. This is not Tiananmen Square. And that’s not leadership,” Polis said early in an afternoon briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. “That’s just creating more of the very division that we need to prevent and heal from and bridge. To create real systemic change, we all need to come together.”

Westword’s Michael Roberts:

In these introductory remarks, Polis didn’t specifically mention Trump, but later in his talk, he made it clear that the president’s assertions were at the top of his mind. He suspects that Trump’s threat about troops shows that he “has become so isolated in the White House, in the ivory tower, that he doesn’t understand what’s going on in our streets.” After lauding those who helped clean up after vandalism near the State Capitol, Polis stressed that “part of leadership is feeling and understanding the anguish and pain that so many Americans feel — Americans who believed we lived in a better America, one that had overcome many aspects of our legacy of racism stemming back to the days of slavery.”

As for Trump’s suggestion that governors unwilling to assert “dominance” over protesters show that they’re “weak,” Polis stated, “Even those who support his policies often question his careless use of words and rhetoric” — a habit that predates his tenure as president, he allowed.

Gov. Jared Polis has earned both praise and some criticism in recent months for avoiding direct confrontation with President Donald Trump, even in situations where it would be entirely reasonable and appropriate to do so. The reason for this is simple: angering Trump for any reason risks provoking his arbitrary and capricious wrath, and the possibility of real world consequences for the state from a governor failing to get along with this President during the emergencies plaguing the year 2020 makes challenging his daily verbal assaults on decency more trouble than the headlines would be worth.

In this case, however, Trump’s threat to use military force against American civilians is egregious enough that even Trump’s own Secretary of Defense Mark Esper came out against it in an interview last night. Such high-level dissent within Trump’s own White House appears to have given Gov. Polis latitude to let his real feelings show a bit.

Sen. Cory Gardner, on the other hand, can’t even show the backbone of Trump’s own Secretary of Defense.

The Plot to Kill Gallagher

No, not that one.

If you’re a fan of public schools, firefighters, and libraries, then you’ll want to pay particular attention to this story. A bipartisan group of lawmakers — led by State Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and State Sen. Chris Hansen (D-Denver) — is pushing legislation intended to eventually kill off the Gallagher Amendment once and for all. The hope is to pass legislation that will put a repeal of the Gallagher Amendment on the 2020 ballot so voters can head off further economic disaster in our state.

The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, is a bit complicated to explain (here’s a video from Colorado Fiscal Institute that may or may not help). But going through the minutiae of how the Gallagher Amendment works is probably less important than understanding why it is a problem for Colorado.

Essential services such as public schools, local firefighters, and library districts rely on funding from property tax revenues. Residential property represents roughly 75% of all valued property, but under the Gallagher Amendment it can only provide 45% of all property tax revenue for local services. When the value of commercial properties decreases — which, for obvious reasons, is happening during the coronavirus pandemic — then commercial property values are lowered; that means less money for local services.

Moreover, residential property tax rates adjust based on current rates for commercial real estate properties. When the value of commercial properties goes down, the Gallagher Amendment requires an associated lowering of residential property tax rates to maintain the 45/55 split for revenue from residential/commercial properties. Yada, yada, yada…massive cuts to local school districts, fire departments, and libraries.

The purpose behind the Gallagher Amendment was to make sure that residential property rates didn’t increase too much compared to the tax rates for other properties and services, which in the 1980s was a particularly popular complaint for East Coast property owners. The Gallagher Amendment would be problematic enough on its own, but it is doubly-destructive in Colorado because we also have TABOR. As Conrad Swanson writes for The Denver Post:

Estimates from the state’s property tax administrator show that residential rates could drop from the current 7.15% to 5.88%, spelling a $491 million cut for school districts statewide and a $204 million cut for county governments, as Chalkbeat reported.

“The impact on schools is going to be brutal if we don’t repeal Gallagher,” Hansen said. “Massive.”

And that lost revenue will stay lost, Rep. Daneya Esgar said. While the Gallagher Amendment allows residential rates to float up and down as needed, a second amendment passed in 1992, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, prevents the taxes from rising again, she said.

“If we get rid of Gallagher before the residential assessment rate drops, we can at least maintain where it is right now,” Esgar said. Otherwise, “we’ll never be able to get back to where we are now.” [Pols emphasis]

Repealing the Gallagher Amendment would not increase anyone’s property taxes — it would just stop a process of ratcheting those funds ever downward. Legislators need to get a 2/3rds majority to approve putting a repeal on the ballot in November; a corresponding measure would ask voters to freeze residential property tax rates for several years.

And if that doesn’t pass? The Post provides one particularly grim assessment:

Fire departments across the state will lose a substantial amount of cash. Already the Glenwood Springs department’s 28 full-time employees face staggered furloughs, but another hit to the budget would mean fire stations would go unstaffed, [Pols emphasis] Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said. Emergency calls would be answered by other stations across town or from neighboring departments dealing with their own budget shortfalls.

In a very real sense, the Gallagher Amendment needs to die in order to help keep Coloradans alive. That battle has now begun.

Trump Gasses His Way To Church, Local Talibangelical Cheers

Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute.

Politico reports on the incident in Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Park yesterday still drawing shocked reactions a day later, after President Donald Trump ordered the gassing and dispersal of peaceful protesters who had committed no offense beyond legally occupying space between Trump and St. John’s Episcopal Church:

President Donald Trump faced withering criticism in the hours after spurring a violent incursion against apparently peaceful protesters for the purposes of staging a political photo opportunity — provoking rebukes Tuesday from local and state executives, congressional lawmakers, faith leaders and even foreign governments over the extraordinary show of force amid converging national crises.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed officials within her office were “very shocked and, quite frankly, outraged” by the aggressive dispersal of crowds demonstrating outside the White House on Monday evening, facilitated by police officers and National Guard troops firing rubber bullets and deploying flash-bang grenades…

“At no time did we think it was appropriate that people who had not violated the curfew or anything else receive that treatment,” Bowser told CNN, saying she could not comment on “what made the federal authorities think it was appropriate to clear the way for that purpose.”

NPR has the angry response to Trump’s violent photo-op from the Episcopal Bishop of Washington–as angry, we suppose, as an Episcopal bishop is allowed to get anyway:

“There was no reaching out, no sense that it would require some sort of authorization before using the church as a backdrop in that way,” said the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington, with oversight responsibilities for the church.

When the president held up the Bible, without praying or quoting a verse appropriate for the moment, Budde was further incensed.

“It almost looked like a prop,” she told NPR. “That is the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It speaks messages of love, of God, love of neighbor. I was outraged that he felt that he had the license to do that, and that he would abuse our sacred symbols and our sacred space in that way.”

Slate’s Ruth Graham summed up the moment well:

Trump’s slow walk to the church was not an event that began with a photo-op. It consisted of nothing but the photo-op itself. [Pols emphasis] The president did not give a speech at the church. No clergy joined him. He did not read a passage from the Bible he held. When a reporter on the scene asked Trump if it was his own Bible, he replied, “It’s a Bible.” The president’s personal copy of the Bible, which he used to take the oath of office, is now located at the Museum of the Bible. It is not clear if he personally owns another copy.

The condemnation of Trump’s violent attack on Lafayette Park protesters in order to visit a church, apparently undertaken entirely using forces under his personal authority, has been pretty much universal–except, as usual, within the Republican Party. Here in Colorado, where the unholy alliance between mostly white evangelical clergy and the Republican Party has been steadfast since long before Focus on the Family came to Colorado Springs, our leading religious/political figures are rushing to bless Trump’s actions:

It’s the age-old quandary when both sides in a conflict think God is on their side. Only one of them can be right.

We tend to think God is not on the side of gassing people for a picture in front of a church.

Gardner Misrepresents Hickenlooper Quote, Says Matthew Shepard Foundation Exec

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A leader of one of the state’s most prominent LGBT advocacy organizations says U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s recent attack on former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is “cynical” and “beneath” the Gardner campaign.

Jason Marsden, vice president of the Mathew Shepard Foundation, told the Colorado Times Recorder that Gardner, a Republican, misrepresented a decade-old interview to attack Hickenlooper, his likely Democratic opponent in November’s election.

Gardner’s attack came during a virtual campaign event with Republican supporters in southern Colorado last week, in which the first-term senator recounted being “offended years ago” with Hickenlooper’s characterization of rural Coloradans.

“I was offended years ago when John Hickenlooper was asked to describe rural Colorado he said that we were just a bunch of backwards-looking people,” said Gardner during the virtual event. “That’s what he thinks about rural Colorado–we’re just a bunch of backwards-looking people and we have to change our mind in order to stop being backwards. Remember what happened in rural Colorado. You had a whole bunch of counties that tried to secede under his leadership and what he did.”

Gardner’s claim that the Hickenlooper was “asked to describe rural Colorado” is false, based on a recording of the interview, which took place in 2009 at the opening gala for the Denver headquarters of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

The interviewer actually asked then Denver Mayor Hickenlooper why the organization chose to locate in Denver rather Wyoming where the Shepard family lived and where Matthew was murdered.

“I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming,” Hickenlooper began. “Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.”

“We’re neighbors,” said the interviewer.

“Right, well in a sense we’re all community,” Hickenlooper replied. “At the same time Denver has I think one of the more robust politically active gay lesbian, bisexual & transgender communities really in the United States.”

Marsden of the Matthew Shepard Foundation remembers the conversation well.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 2)

Happy International Sex Workers’ Day; please celebrate responsibly and in private. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

► Dear Leader Trump announced on Monday evening that he would use armed military forces to quell nationwide protests if state governors did not act more aggressively — remarks that were condemned locally by Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. He also said he was a “friend” to peaceful protestors just before he walked to St. John’s church for a photo op on a route cleared of peaceful protestors by tear gas. As The New York Times reports:

Via The New York Times (6/2/20)

People who gathered outside the White House to protest police brutality spent Monday waving signs and screaming for justice. They watched as police officers and National Guard units flooded Lafayette Square, delivering on a threat made by President Trump. And just before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect, they were hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas.

It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates.

The actual President of the United States of America

Stephen Collinson of CNN called the stunt “a moment of vanity and bravado.” As The Washington Post reports, the Right Rev. Mariann E. Budde was incensed by Trump’s photo op:

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said.

She excoriated the president for standing in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood — holding up a Bible, which Budde said “declares that God is love.”

“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde of the president. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.” [Pols emphasis]

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, President Trump staged ANOTHER photo op on Tuesday at a notable religious site and got blasted once again:

In a statement Tuesday morning as the president was arriving, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory slammed the visit and the tactics Trumped had used for the photo opportunity at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said. [Pols emphasis]

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, delivered a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning that was much more evocative of the sort of “presidential” address Americans might have hoped to see from Trump. From NBC News:

Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the nationwide peaceful protests to the death of George Floyd, calling his killing in police custody a “wake-up call for our nation” and drawing a stark contrast between President Donald Trump’s tactics and how he would respond.

In a speech from Philadelphia City Hall, Biden repeated Floyd’s final words before he died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes — and said it was time “to listen to those words … and respond with action.”…

…”I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain,” he said. “I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.

 

An early glimpse at polling data shows that Americans seem to be largely sympathetic to protests following the killing of George Floyd. Via Morning Consult:

 

A separate poll from CBS News shows that a majority of Americans agree that police officers generally treat white people much better than they treat black people.

 

If you’re wondering what Colorado’s U.S. Senators had to say about Trump’s comments to state governors earlier on Monday, you won’t be all that surprised to read this from Colorado Public Radio:

While Gardner said he did not hear Trump’s comments, fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was not surprised by the president’s tone.

“It’s disgraceful we have somebody in the White House who thinks the answer to this is more violence and more division,” the Democratic senator said. “We need more enlightened leadership than that.”

Bennet said what was needed wasn’t more force, but a real response to “the institutional racism that exists in this country at every level of our society.”

Gardner said all Americans can and should do better.

Cory Gardner: Real man of courage.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

Denver’s Favorite Fascists Came Out To Incite Violence

“Proud Boy” Louie Huey violates curfew at a Black Lives Matter protest in Denver.

9NEWS’ Jeremy Jojola follows up on a story first broke by the Colorado Times Recorder about one “Chevy McGee,” a local anti-government “Boogaloo Boi” militant connected with Bradley Bunn–who was busted with pipe bombs after attempting to organize an illegal open-carry armed protest with McGee at the Colorado State Capitol on May 1.

Jojola reports McGee says he just happened to be at the protests on Friday night with a trunk full of assault rifles, and despite everything you’ve heard about his buddy Bradley Bunn and the “Boogaloo” movement there is absolutely no relationship between those two data points:

“We were stopping by the protest to see what was going on and provided medical and water to people,” McGee said over text messages. [Pols emphasis]

McGee said the guns and tactical gear were in the trunk of his vehicle while he was out at the protest.

“… we are avid shooters so we always keep our guns in the trunk as we often go shooting,” McGee added over text…

Recall what Erik Maulbetsch of the Times Recorder reported about McGee’s role in the abortive May 1 armed protest:

McGee and Bunn were among a group of gun rights activists who intended to open-carry firearms at the state Capitol during the May Day “Reopen Colorado” protest. Open carrying is illegal in Denver, but they hoped to have so many armed supporters that police officers would decline to enforce the law.

Their plan fell apart due to the FBI and Larimer Sheriff’s raid on Bunn’s house the morning of the May 1 rally…

It was “Chevy McGee” who posted the manifesto to Facebook calling on like-minded individuals to show up at the state capitol on May 1 with their weapons “hot, locked, and ready to rock,” and outlining various hypothetical situations in which the group might start shooting at police during this event. Photos of the weapons seized from McGee at the protest Friday night include assault weapons and high capacity magazines that are illegal in the city of Denver. We don’t know the full circumstances of the police contact that led to the weapons being seized, but we don’t believe for a minute that this guy was at Friday night’s protest armed to the teeth for benign purposes.

Also proudly posting his protest pics to social media this weekend is another far-right militant readers may recognize, “Proud Boy” Level 2 Louie Huey (photo top right), who has been in the news a few times recently–from helping stink up the reputation of local right-wing talk radio station 710 KNUS to mixing with the crowds at anti-vaxxer protests and Trump rallies.

Level 2 Proud Boy Louie Huey is very proud of the rubber bullets he took to the chest:

Now folks, what do you think one of the state’s leading fascist agitators was doing out there in the streets of Denver when he got hit with these rubber bullets? “What everyone else was doing” is the answer we would naturally expect from a lot of readers.

Except he wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. The “anti white guilt” Proud Boys, in case there was any lack of clarity on this point, do not support the Black Lives Matter movement. Huey’s rubber bullet wounds tell us that a fascist agitator was in the vanguard of the violent protests that took place after curfew, inciting others through his actions to commit crimes in order to discredit the entire movement.

And with that, the marked difference between the peaceful daytime protests and mayhem in the streets at night in Denver over the past few days becomes that much more suspicious.

Dear Leader Trump Threatens Armed Soldiers in Streets

Via CNN (6/1/20)

On Monday evening, President Trump at last addressed a nation reeling from nationwide protests. It went worse than you even could have guessed.

As The New York Times reports:

In his first remarks from the White House since massive protests have swept the country, President Trump said Monday evening that the looting and violent demonstrations in reaction to the death of George Floyd in police custody were “acts of domestic terror.”

Speaking in the Rose Garden as protesters and law enforcement held a tense standoff outside, Mr. Trump said he planned for a police and law enforcement presence to “dominate the streets” and said he would respond with an “overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.”

If governors were unable to end the violence, he said, he would send in the military “to do the job for them.”

As NPR notes:

The president’s Rose Garden remarks came as just across the street, law enforcement officers deployed tear gas and shot rubber bullets at peaceful protesters.

Trump’s remarks came amid reports that the president may try to enact the Insurrection Act in response to protests. Earlier in the day, Trump berated the nation’s governors during a conference call for a “weak” response to the protests.

After delivering his remarks, Trump was scheduled to walk to St. John’s church in Washington D.C., but not before crowds were cleared out of the way:

This is America?

“Antifa” Slapped With “Terrorist” Label? KNAZI Sure Hopes So

KNUS host Steffan Tubbs, ex-KNUS producer Kirk Widlund.

CNN reports on yet another controversy caused by the simple act of thinking through a Tweet from President Donald Trump to its logical conclusion:

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that the United States will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization, even though the US government has no existing legal authority to label a wholly domestic group in the manner it currently designates foreign terrorist organizations.

Current and former government officials say it would be unconstitutional for the US government to proscribe First Amendment-protected activity inside the US based on simple ideology. [Pols emphasis] US law allows terrorist designations for foreign groups since belonging to those groups doesn’t enjoy the same protections.

Antifa, short for anti-fascists, describes a broad group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left — often the far left — but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform.

Antifa positions can be hard to define, but many members support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites. Some employ radical or militant tactics to get out their messages.

We weren’t initially decided on whether or not this latest probable empty threat via Twitter from the President of the United States against far-left activists was worth its own blog post. For one thing, our understanding of the “Antifa” movement is that is rejects organization, and self-organized autonomous bands of people engage in all kinds of activity under the brand from online to direct action. With that said, we want to be absolutely clear that do not condone any kind of violence, property destruction, or any other criminal activity by any person or group.

But to label “Antifa” as terrorists, with all that entails in the post-9/11 world, is a frightening prospect.

Here in Colorado, the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists group in particular has proven to be an accurate source of information about far-right and unapologetic neo-Nazi movements–unmasking a local white supremacist activist serving in the Air Force in Colorado Springs and more recently the not-so-secret Nazi double online life of Kirk Widlund, now fired producer at local conservative AM radio station 710 KNUS where top-shelf Colorado Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner regularly appear.

Because Antifa by design has no hierarchy, there’s no “group” for law enforcement to target–just individuals, and under terrorism laws those who have provided “material support.” Because these are Americans acting autonomously, there’s no qualifying connection to foreign terrorism to permit those laws to apply. All Trump will most likely succeed in doing with this threat is to motivate his supporters to all every kid wearing black with a bandanna as a face mask a “terrorist.” No doubt to Nazis outed by Colorado Springs Antifa, it would feel like sweet justice.

For the rest of us, plenty of whom will never identify as any kind of radical, this is playing with authoritarian fire.

House GOP Statement Vile Even For Pat Neville

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Yesterday afternoon, the Colorado House Republican Minority released a statement we assume they thought was very strong: demanding that Democrats “outright condemn” the last several days of protests over the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, and essentially accusing Democratic lawmakers of supporting the violence committed by a tiny minority of protesters:

Over the past several days, chaos has erupted in the streets of Denver while supportive Democrats have shut down the State Capitol in “solidarity” with the rioters who have attacked police officers, blocked traffic, and destroyed public and private property. Some elected Democrats have actually gone out of their way to do everything they can to block police from stopping the rioters and restoring law and order.

Even more egregious, is that Colorado Democrats and Governor Polis will take swift action against business owners who try to reopen their small businesses and make ends meet, but will give “space” to criminals who start fires in the streets, lob homemade explosives at police, and deface the State Capitol in defiance of the rule of law.

The Colorado House Republicans call on all Democrats, starting with the House and Senate Democrats, to outright condemn these rioters.

We further call on Democrats to not block the prosecution of these criminals like they did in January when rioters disrupted the opening day of the Colorado General Assembly.

It’s time that Colorado Democrats, and the liberal press who enable them, take steps to condemn what’s happening around the State Capitol and see what’s most important here — protecting the innocent from harm and restoring law and order immediately.

It’s tough to know where to begin with this statement, which seems to ignore just about every known fact about the protests of the past few days. Democrats like Rep. Leslie Herod who have led the massive and peaceful daytime protests against police violence repeatedly urged their supporters to obey the law. Rep. Herod specifically exhorted protesters to respect the curfew imposed in Denver after the second night of unrest.

And that’s just the beginning. Did riot police deploy to restaurants that illegally reopened during the COVID-19 emergency? A few dozen climate activists who super-glued themselves to the rail in the House gallery are “a riot?” House Republicans are seriously suggesting that Senate President Leroy Garcia wanted his truck destroyed?

Failing to differentiate the peaceful protests across the nation and in Denver over the weekend from the actions of a comparatively small number of hoodlums after dark shows that Republicans don’t want to address “what’s most important here,” which is police brutality against people of color. Characterizing this weekend’s protests indiscriminately as “riots” only demonstrates that platitudes Republicans offer over police brutality in the wake of a major incident, like Colorado House Republicans did last week after the death of George Floyd, are meaningless.

We’re not surprised that’s how Minority Leader Pat Neville feels, after Neville has spent pretty much every day since the 2018 elections marginalizing his caucus and sullying the Republican brand. But to see the whole GOP House minority sign this disgraceful letter…

Well, that’s pretty shocking. And we hope there are some privately delivered apologies.

Denver Police Seized Assault Rifles from Anti-Govt Gun Activists at Friday Night Protest

(This would seem to confirm the worst fears – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During a vehicle search near the downtown Denver protest on Friday evening, police officers seized several military-style assault rifles from anti-government gun enthusiasts who call themselves “Boogaloo Bois.”

Most peaceful protesters had left downtown Denver by the time police searched a car that had been occupied by a group of young men, one of whom was wearing a military-style vest.

They found several semi-automatic assault rifles, numerous magazines and other weapons in the trunk.

CPR reporter Allison Sherry tweeted an image of the seizure:

Chevy McGee, a 20-year-old anti-government gun enthusiast who lives in Fort Collins, claims to own some of the weapons.

In a May 30 Facebook post, McGee shared the same image, writing, “Shout out to Denver PD for stealing our shit last night. None of this left the trunk of our car, and they said they had reasonable suspicion because someone called that’s why they searched it. They cuffed us and let us go after 30 minutes.”

McGee also alleges in the Facebook protest that the officers told him someone called the police after seeing one of his group wearing a military-style plate-carrier vest, which allows the wearer to add ballistic protection. McGee states that neither he nor his associates open-carried their rifles.

“Open carry is illegal in Denver and we did not have enough guys to open carry so I don’t wanna hear it,” wrote McGee on Facebook.

McGee’s Facebook account “NotChevyMcGee” appears to have replaced his previous account using his correct name. It was from that older account that McGee made news earlier this month.

CBS Denver featured a portion of McGee’s May 1 livestream as part of its report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s arrest of his associate Brad Bunn for possessing pipe bombs.

McGee and Bunn were among a group of gun rights activists who intended to open-carry firearms at the state Capitol during the May Day “Reopen Colorado” protest. Open carrying is illegal in Denver, but they hoped to have so many armed supporters that police officers would decline to enforce the law.

(more…)

Second Night of Denver Violence Raises Troubling Questions

UPDATE: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announces an 8:00PM curfew tonight and Sunday to curtail the violence, CBS4 reporting:

A curfew will go into place on Saturday night in Denver at 8 p.m. in order to prevent more damage and violence downtown. The chaos has happened on two successive nights and been part of the protests of the George Floyd death at the hands of police in Minnesota.

“We had hoped that we would not have to take these steps. But the aggressive and dangerous actions taken by some individuals and groups under the cover of darkness has made it necessary,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said on Saturday afternoon…

The Colorado National Guard has been deployed by Gov. Jared Polis to help Denver police “maintain public safety and protect infrastructure and property in the downtown area,” according to Hancock. The city attorney says there could be up to a $999 fine or 300 days in jail for violation of curfew.

Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver says that all sanctioned protest activities will end tonight by 5:00PM.

—–

As Denver7 reports and readers are no doubt aware, yesterday marked another day of nationwide protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, one of whom is now in jail on murder charges. In Denver, the protests began peacefully with a noon march led by Denver school board member and activist Tay Anderson, and speeches later in the afternoon from Anderson, Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver, and a press conference from Mayor Michael Hancock expressed support–all of them urging that the ongoing protests remain peaceful after significant property damage around the state capitol building the previous night.

Unfortunately, despite these commendable efforts by Denver leaders to keep things peaceful, the destruction in downtown Denver this morning is sadly evident:

Clashes between police and protesters continued to escalate through the night, with tear gas creating a billowing cloud of white smoke in the area that could be seen from the air by AIRTRACKER7. Some protesters responded by setting things on fire, including a dumpster and a car, defacing Civic Center Park with graffiti and vandalizing the Colorado Supreme Court building as well as the Denver Public Library.

By midnight, Denver police confirmed the Target store on the 16th St. Mall had been looted by protesters who made off with a few items. No other details were immediately available.

“What we’re seeing is destructive, it’s needless, it’s senseless,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a Zoom interview with Denver7. “It’s unfortunate for everyone in Denver. … the demonstrations started peacefully… unfortunately as the night grew near, we had some folks show up who, quite frankly, meant to disrupt the peace. This is not who we are, and calmer heads must prevail. Our police officers have a sworn duty to maintain everyone’s safety – and they will. People are crying out to be heard, but this violent distraction only divides us.”

Tay Anderson lays the blame without hesitation on “white allies” who attacked Denver police despite the loud and clear exhortation from leaders present at his rally to remain nonviolent:

The context for last night’s second round of violence and property destruction in Denver are new reports coming out of the Twin Cities that a large percentage of the protesters being arrested there for looting and other crimes are not local residentsNBC News:

The mayor of St. Paul said that while that city was quieter Friday night than the previous night, he has been told that all of those arrested were from out of state.

State officials said that around 80 percent of those arrested in the Twin Cities on Friday had come from outside Minnesota.

While “there’s a group of folks that are sad and mourning” about Floyd, Mayor Melvin Carter said, “there seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd’s death as a cover to create havoc.”

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota confirmed an alarming possibility in a separate NBC News story:

Acknowledging reports that white supremacists and drug cartels [Pols emphasis] were taking advantage of the widespread chaos in Minneapolis and fueling some of the destruction throughout the region, he said his office was working closely with federal officials to identify any organized groups fueling the mayhem.

All circumstances aggregate to raise major questions about who might really be responsible for the violence–in Minnesota and here in Denver. Whether it’s anarchist white kids who don’t understand they are not helping or something more sinister like white supremacist agents provocateurs, what matters for the present is this violence is not condoned by community leaders. In this space, we are extremely reticent to subsidize conspiracy theories, and try to ensure a factual basis exists for any allegation we level or subsidize with our attention.

But if you’ve got a strong feeling that something’s not right about this, you’re not alone.

Weekend Open Thread

“All satire is blind to the forces liberated by decay. Which is why total decay has absorbed the forces of satire.”

–Theodor W. Adorno

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