Dueling Denver Protests: a Quick and Dirty Run-down

Dueling Denver Protests: a Quick and Dirty Run-down

No, I’m not talking about multiple protests. The plural reflects the dueling status of a Patriot Rally and a counterprotest organized by literal communists, a protest titled Antifa/BLM soup drive. We may as well remove the aforementioned slash (ideologically, anyway) because BLM and Antifa are pretty much in bed. Though I’d rather not expound on what they’re doing in that bed it’s my journalistic and maybe humanistic responsibility to expound judiciously.

As to the ‘Patriot Muster’ rally which the communists were opposing: I personally don’t think it was necessary. Frankly, a bunch of dudes in paramilitary kit ‘helping’ a bunch of militarized police feels just as much like LARPing as Black Bloc and their scathing tirades against filming their anemic faces does. I mean, sure, support the police all you want, but realize that they don’t need your help. They’ve got money and resources in spades.

My associate Bucky Dillon and I were co-opted into journalism duties the morning of the event (as in, we were paid to be there and film: check the vid here). The day of the Denver rally had seen me recently back from Seattle, where I’d regularly attended protests and tried to get juicy footage/information about Antifa and their BLM cohorts.

The day was hot. Tensions were high. And, as usual, most everyone there seemed to be enjoying themselves and reveling in the energy of hate and opposition. Black Bloc, the police, the patriots, myself. The energy of a protest, of clearly demarcating yourself from the ‘others’ with a kit or bloc or uniform is infectious. It’s addictive.

The counterprotesters had lined up behind the fence to lob obscenities and water bottles at the cops. Behind them, swathes of people gave out water, canned food, goggles, and communist literature. Eyes probed at me and the GoPro strapped to my chest; I could almost see the paranoia wafting off certain groups as I approached.

The protesters threw maybe 5 water bottles at the cops before they responded in kind with a pepper ball. Having worn my gas mask, I didn’t move as far out of the way as most of the crowd did. The gassing was lazy, perpetrated almost as an afterthought. I was disappointed in how quickly everyone scattered, honestly.

I guess you could say things were still peaceful. On the road, protesters burned a Blue Lives Matter flag (which I wrongly thought was an American flag at the time) and lamented about their lack of marshmallows. Police looked on without moving much.

And it was then that I approached the fence. Agitators had lined up to spar verbally with the assorted cops. They asked one for his name and badge number, which he gave. He laughed when they called him stupid and declared that his six months of training had been ‘a riot’. The whole exchange took on a strange air of conviviality beneath the insults and head-shaking, another warped incarnation of the pleasure we gain from being in conflict with each other.

I was doxxed not long after this. I stupidly approached Dillon (founder of the Liberty Revolt) and fraternized with ease as he handed me a press pass. He was dressed in black, but not bloc, and was in apparent and undeniable sartorial opposition to the left-wingers. When I returned to the group I’d been loosely associating with they called me a chud and told me to beat it, which I did. Apparently, they’d ‘suspected’ me from the beginning.

Things seemed to be winding down. The heckling between protesters and police continued, with most of them wailing about how the cops were ‘protecting white supremacists’. Some of the Antifa kids demanded that ‘Tiegen (the patriarch of Patriot Muster) be sent out’. I’m not sure if they wanted to fight or heckle this man.

We wound our way through umbrella-ed groups of bloc members who were extremely disturbed by our proximity to their mumbling and by our video cameras, though most of them had them too. One taller gentleman (no doubt chosen for his role because of such a feature) stood by and stared at us before I assured him we weren’t filming. This seemed to be a common tactic among the Antifa ranks. It was supposed to be intimidating but felt awkward and creepy.

We finally decided to try and enter the rally proper. Unfortunately, the cops weren’t letting anyone else through, even though we assured them we were patriotic. Deciding to hang around the exit as the ‘patriots’ left the rally, we scoped the scene for action.

It was here that we gleaned one of the day’s hardest-won lessons. A man by the name of Animal Outlaw (of all people, really) brought our ambitions back to Earth by hounding on the fact that he hoped for peace and non-violence.

Had I become the sort of press who leeches off the suffering of others, who secretly cheers at the onset of punches and animosity? Does any journalist really hope that things stay ‘peaceful’ and amicable? Can they?

The irony and reality of such a mottled realization rang out with a gunshot. The air was still for a handful of milliseconds before, contrary to any semblance of common sense, everyone in the area began running toward the shooting. I’d been filming and could see a cloud of orange and a man laid out on the concrete. Something in me knew he was dead before I registered the fact consciously.

Mob mentality and the energy of a crowd do wonders to anesthetize the horror of a killing in a public space. It was impossible not to be shaken, but at the moment I didn’t feel the trauma. Watching the suspects squirm under the cuffs of the assembled cops, who’d gotten to the scene in a matter of seconds, felt surreal. I kept trying to strip the shooter of humanity as I watched the arrest but couldn’t do it. Something about his look and the prostrate corpse felt irreparably sad like all were the removed victims of some tragedian pen.

Dillon wanted to stick around for interviews. In fact, most people continued to hang around. The excitement, the buzz of spent cordite, was undeniable on the faces of the assembled.

I approached a group of individuals in bloc. They were speculating about the incident and one said they’d heard it was ‘officer down’. I corrected them, making it known I’d been right there and seen it. When they learned it was a right-winger who’d been shot they celebrated, laughing and ‘hoping it was one of the patriot’s buddies’ who’d fired. I didn’t have the stomach to call them out over this view; after all, I’d thought in such a way a number of times when it came down to incidents that I wasn’t there for.

This changed my perspective, and for the better. Is that a terrible thing to say after witnessing the aftermath of senseless violence? I’m not sure. But knowing that it isn’t something that happens over there, offers the kind of perspective you can’t get from watching YouTube videos.

Dillon, who’d seen more of the incident, was taken to the police station to give a witness statement. I decided to get home before the block my car was parked on became a part of the investigation.

Obviously, this story and the series of events leading it are close to us at the Liberty Revolt. Such political insanity emerging in our own backyards urges us to investigate further; that’s what we’ll be doing. We’ve been in contact with witnesses and other people familiar with the parties involved or the incident.

We will continue to report as we discover details. Stay tuned and consider checking out some of our other (lighter) material.

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