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Colorado officials, politicians react to violence surrounding white nationalist rally in Virginia

Author: Ernest Luning - August 13, 2017 - Updated: August 13, 2017

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An injured person is taken away by Emergency Medical Services workers after a car ran into pedestrians during a white nationalist rally, Saturday Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
An injured person is taken away by Emergency Medical Services workers after a car ran into pedestrians during a white nationalist rally, Saturday Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Colorado officials, candidates and organizations reacted with anger, derision and sadness to the violence that occurred Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists, neo-Nazis, skinheads, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups gathered to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

One woman was dead and dozens injured after a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters on Saturday, and two state police officers died when the helicopter they were piloting over the rallies and counter-protesters crashed.

Colorado’s two senators, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, denounced the rally and the ensuing violence on Twitter Saturday, calling it “deeply disturbing” and “contrary to all we stand for as a country.”

After President Donald Trump condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” at an impromptu news conference from his New Jersey golf club, Bennet and Gardner criticized Trump for failing to explicitly condemn white supremacists and others associated with the alt-right movement even as prominent figures in the movement embraced Trump.

On Sunday, Gardner went further, demanding that Trump “lay blame on white nationalists and on hatred” in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Other reactions to the events poured in from Colorado officials and politicians.

Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Boulder running for governor next year, wrote in a series of tweets:

“My heart goes out to the peaceful counter protesters whose voices of inclusivity and diversity were silenced by an extreme act of violence. Bigotry and hatred have no place in our country and we must emphasize our inclusive, diverse, and bright future.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, tweeted his disapproval as the events unfolded: “All Americans have the right to peaceful protest and free speech, but there is no room for violence in our society. #Charlottesville”

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, lamented the violence and called for condemning its instigators. “Heartbroken to hear about loss of life in today’s domestic terror attack in #Charlottesville. Evil, no matter its face, must be condemned,” he wrote in a tweet.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, tore into white supremacists and their ideology in a tweet. “White supremacists are ignorant and hateful. All Americans must unite against racial intolerance and bigoted ideology,” he wrote.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, called the violence “domestic terrorism” and issued a call to action in a tweet.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, called the events “outrageous” and urged everyone to call out the “shameful racism” in a tweet.

Colorado legislative leaders voiced dismay and outrage, as well.

House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, wrote on Twitter, “Not in America. We must denounce racism, white supremacy & domestic terrorism. We are better than this.”

House Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, retweeted Duran’s remarks and added his own: “Standing in solidarity with @crisantaduran and my #coleg colleagues against hatred, racism and bigotry. May God heal our land.”

Sunday Duran tweeted from a march in downtown Denver.

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, also a candidate for Congress in the 5th Congressional District, posted a brief video clip from “The Sound of Music” on Twitter depicting Captain Georg von Trapp tearing up a Nazi flag, as a commenter to this post pointed out.

Rep. Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, called the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville revolting and “contrary to what it means to be an American.”

“Let us never forget that our country was founded on premise ‘that all men are created equal’ & ‘endowed by our Creator,'” Nordberg tweeted. “I pray God heals the divisions in our nation so that we may unite behind those principles once again.”

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, a legislative activist for civil rights, strongly condemned the violence Saturday.

“In the face of such an abhorrent, violent, and open display of racism, we must stand together to drive out this darkness,” she said.

Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, took to Facebook to  condemn “the violence, racism and white supremacist language.”

“There is no place in our nation for this type bigotry and hatred,” he wrote. “The exercise of free speech rights does not include threats, calls for violence or hate speech. Our national leaders at the all levels must condemn this type of conduct and demonstrate their commitment to inclusion, diversity and respectful dialogue.”

— Colorado Politics senior political correspondent Joey Bunch and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


2 comments

  • Chris Plummer

    August 13, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    “The man” tearing up the flag is Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”.

  • Sylvia Richard

    August 14, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    There was clearly concerning violence perpetrating between the alt right and the alt left, long before the car murder. Why didn’t the police shut it down immediately and disperse everyone.??????? It was almost predictable that something serious was about to happen. The past few years the police have allowed demonstrators to destroy, fight and be violent. We have a right to demonstrate, not fight, burn, destroy and loot. The demonstrations are out of hand. It is time for new laws and guidelines and if people disobey these laws for peaceful demonstration they should be arrested or a t least dispersed. The behavior has nothing at all to do with freedom of speech. Wake up everyone. So called demonstrations have been violent and have been inciting more violence for way too long now!!!!!!

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