Last December, 9News reporter Jeremy Jojola told Westword about ugly threats he'd received over stories about local neo-Nazis. Now, Jojola has filed temporary protection orders against three individuals affiliated with such groups after they showed up at his home in the wake of him reporting about one of them: Samuel Cordova, who pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor bias-motivated crime related to June 2019 vandalism at BookBar over an event called "Drag Queen Story Time."
The visit was first publicized on the Facebook page of Defend Denver, an organization that seeks to cloak its hateful beliefs behind the veneer of activism. According to the collective, which shared a selfie captured in front of the Jojola residence by Cordova and two associates, Russell Frankland and Joshua Yeakel, "Defend Denver was created to be a voice for the communities who face the constant terror in there [sic] communities."
Note that Yeakel's alleged racist activities have been cited in previous Westword items, including a 2017 piece focusing on a photo in which he posed with State Senator Kevin Lundberg and a 2018 article about the potential for a clash between local Antifa representatives and members of the racist Traditionalist Worker Party during a Turning Point USA event at CSU — which came to pass as predicted.
Jojola was unavailable for comment about the unwanted home visit, and 9News offered the following statement: "As journalists, we seek the truth and help people understand what’s happening in our local community and the world. To try and intimidate journalists from uncovering truth is an attack on the public’s right to know. We will continue to do our jobs with the necessary precautions and safeguards in place to protect our journalists."
However, Westword has obtained copies of the temporary protection orders against Cordova, Frankland and Yeakel, and their narrative sections go into detail about what happened.
"The most recent incident that causes me to ask for a Civil Protection Order involves Respondents, who are known and active members of [a] white supremacist group, stopping by my residence uninvited, while my wife and two-month-old child were home alone," Jojola writes. "Specifically, on February 26, 2020, at approximately 11 a.m. I received a voicemail from Yeakel, whereby he recited my home address, claimed to be doing a report on 'fake news journalist[s],' and seeking to conduct an interview with me. Yeakel is not a journalist and is not employed by any media outlet in town."
At approximately 1:45 p.m., the narrative continues, "I answered a telephone call from Yeakel, where he stated that he stopped by my house. This visit was unwelcomed and following reporting that I conducted on Defend Denver and Cordova's involvement in bias-motivated crime. Shortly after I ended the call, I received a notification and a recorded video from my Ring Video Doorbell, indicating that Yeakel, Cordova and Frankland came to my front door and rang my doorbell while my wife and daughter were home alone. They did not answer the door."
Shortly thereafter, Jojola notes, Defend Denver posted the selfie on Facebook along with a caption claiming that Jojola had "threatened to shoot [them] for doing investigative journalism." In his words, "That characterization is false."
In total, the protective order documents three posts "falsely alleging that I threatened their life and depicting me as a danger to society and a 'spook,'" Jojola writes, adding, "Cordova, Yeakel and Frankland have made me gravely concerned for my safety and the safety of my family."
These actions weren't isolated, Jojola contends: "Throughout the Defend Denver Facebook page, which I believe Yeakel runs, there appear numerous posts casting me in a negative light. Although none of these posts specifically threaten violence against me, it demonstrates an unhealthy obsession with myself and vehement disagreement with my reporting. Furthermore, Cordova's social media posts reflect a propensity for violence, including a Twitter post staking, 'Idek [I don't even know] if it's going to be today or another day when it happens I'm gonna take as many of the pink bastards as I can with me. My whole life there's never been anything I've hated more than patrol cops and my whole life has only reinforces [sic] that hatred.' His posts also indicate that he has 'nothing left to lose' and that he believes 'it's time to get a little reckless.'"
Jojola also points out that in December, "Yeakel photoshopped my image over an image depicting holocaust victims. I believe that this action also constitutes a threat."
A passage from the documents under the label "CITATION TO THE RESTRAINED PERSON" reads: "You are ordered to appear and show cause, if any, why this Temporary Protection Order should not be made Permanent. The next hearing is March 12, 2020 10:30 a.m. at the court address above in Courtroom 159. If the Restrained Person fails to appear at this hearing, a bench warrant may be issued for the arrest of the Restrained Person and the Temporary Protection Order previously entered by the Court shall be made permanent without further notice or service upon the Restrained Person. This Temporary Protection Order expires at the conclusion of the Hearing date stated above unless continued to another date or made a Permanent Order of the Court."
Here's an excerpt from the order against Cordova:
The Court Finds that it has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter: that CORDOVA, SAMUEL (Restrained Person) constitutes a credible threat, that an imminent danger exists to the life and health of the Protected Persons named in this action; and sufficient cause exists for the issuance of a Civil Protection Order.
The Court Orders that you, the Restrained Person, shall not contact, harass, stalk, injure, intimidate, threaten, touch, sexually assault, abuse or molest the Protected Person named in this action, or harm, take, transfer, conceal, dispose of or threaten harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by any protected party, or a minor child of any other part, or otherwise violate this Order. You shall not use, or threaten to use, physical force against the Protected Persons that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury. You shall not engage in any conduct that would place the Protected Persons in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
The document informs Cordova that he "must keep a distance of at least 100 yards from the Protected Persons, wherever they may be found. It is ordered that you be excluded from the following places and shall stay at least 100 yards from the following places" — Jojola's residence and the 9News offices, at 500 East Speer Boulevard.
In our interview with Jojola last December, he praised 9News for its response to prospective dangers tied to his previous reporting about neo-Nazis. In his words, "The station is making sure I'm safe. They've taken a lot of the responses we've received seriously, and I feel confident in what they're doing."
He added: "I believe most people in Colorado are good. But there's a small but growing minority who hate and are racist and are emboldened to wear their beliefs like a badge. And I hope the good people of the state will push back on that behavior."