Volatile elements could come together at Denver's Civic Center Park on the afternoon of Saturday, October 10. A so-called Patriot Muster and the BLM-Antifa Soup Drive are scheduled to get under way within thirty minutes of each other at the location.
Materials for the Patriot Muster, the subject of several segments on KNUS radio over the past week, note that the event is intended to be peaceful, but there are many reasons for concern. The groups clashed during a pro-police rally in July at the same location, and Denver Police pepper-sprayed some of the demonstrators. Moreover, Patriot Muster organizer John "Tig" Tiegen, whose Facebook profile photo shows him wearing a wide smile and a freedom-themed T-shirt and holding an automatic weapon, is part of an organization called the United American Defense Force, whose website includes lines like this: "The enemies are promising to come to your neighborhood."
Tiegen did not respond to multiple Westword interview requests. But a spokesperson for the Denver Communists, one of several organizations sponsoring the soup drive, acknowledges that the timing of its efforts, slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. at Civic Center, just prior to the Patriot Muster's anticipated 2 p.m. start, isn't coincidental.
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"We scheduled our action after learning that the militia-fascists had called a 'patriot muster' against the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-fascists and Marxists," the representative writes via email. "That’s us — guilty as charged and happy to oblige with our presence."
The spokesperson adds: "We are committed to counter-mobilizing against the far right anytime they crawl out of their holes. Every far-right rally aspires to be a pogrom. They should never be allowed to assemble without being vocally opposed."
Tiegen's online bio related to his work as a motivational speaker points out that he "leverages over thirteen years of high-profile security and force protection expertise within contract and government agencies along with his military experience as a Marine Sergeant, to bring a powerful, thought-provoking, and engaging presentation of his first-hand account of the Benghazi Attacks to his audiences."
A subsequent passage states that "Tig teamed up with other members of the Annex Security Team and New York Times best-selling author Mitchell Zuckoff to write 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi."
As for the United American Defense Force, here's its online self-description:
Defend and Protect What is Ours
Radical groups have gained control in the United States of America. Police departments around the country are being defunded and disbanded. Officers are being disarmed and deprived of ability to use force. Without adequate police protection, urban and suburban centers are left exposed to anarchists and are left vulnerable to attack and seizure.
As governments and media provide cover for violent groups such as BLM, ANTIFA, and NFAC, those who took the oath to protect the public have forsaken their oaths. These “peaceful protestors” have been allowed to burn businesses and churches, assassinate police officers, attack business owners, shoot children, vandalize and destroy historic artifacts without consequences.
The enemies are promising to come to your neighborhood. We can no longer afford to remain complacent. We believe Americans have the authority and moral duty to protect ourselves, our families, and our compatriots. United American Defense Force is here to make sure our members have access to the training, equipment, communications, leadership, personnel and resources necessary to protect our communities.
Join a group of American patriots ready to STAND UP in defense of our communities. The United American Defense Force (UADF), under the umbrella of FEC United, is organizing citizens across the nation as a humanitarian force ready to provide support for natural and man-made disasters. The UADF will also stand as a first line of defense against domestic terrorists and during states of emergency.
We’re currently devoting much energy to building a solid foundation and organizational infrastructure. Membership is available to adults 18+ subject to a background check. Various levels of benefits of membership include insurance protection for use of force; discounts on ammunition; medical supplies; hard goods; soft goods; weapons, tactical, and CPR/first aid training, as well as public safety notifications. Members will be expected to attend training, regular monthly meetings, and comply with a code of conduct. Because safety and security of our members is a chief concern, becoming a member of UADF is a five step process. For details on membership and more information on the process, sign up today.
During an August appearance for Conservative Daily, Tiegen insisted that the UADF isn't political — and as evidence, he said that anyone who shows up at rallies wearing a MAGA hat or carrying a Blue Lives Matter flag will be asked to leave. However, he also pointed out that UADF training includes guidance about what to do if Antifa members attack your car. Here's the clip.
The events page for the soup drive doesn't suggest that Tiegen and company will openly assault opponents, instead calling them "111 Percenter and Oathkeeper types."
However, the page notes: "We expect the Proud Boys and other reactionaries to join them. The fascists' event description claims 'BLM, Antifa, and related Marxist associations are assaulting everything we love and cherish about this country!' And they’re absolutely right! We are fighting against racism, nationalism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, the police, immigration-enforcement, imperialism and all oppression and exploitation — exactly what these bootlickers seek to uphold."
And it continues:
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If these groups have their way, the safety and very existence of working folks trying to organize would be threatened. They seek to limit our freedom to express, assemble, and fight back against continued oppression by armed threats like police and vigilantes who target our most vulnerable neighbors. Ignoring fascists does nothing to disempower them — on the contrary, fungal infections grow best in the dark. Instead, the self-defense of working folks is the only way to combat fascism.
Our preferred strategy is to simply outnumber and outshine these fascists anytime they show their faces. We want to send these worms back into their holes, demoralized and isolated, with only their racist, r*pist president to console them. We’ve done this before, including twice over the summer when fascists playing dress-up showed up looking ready for war, fired up by Kyle Rittenhouse's double murder. Thanks to our numbers, unity, and loud voices, they ended up hiding behind some of their cop-buddies, without even breaking in their brand new tacti-cool gear.
The plan is to set up our tables and tents in Civic Center Park, as near as we can be to the fascists. We’ll have soup for our family, music, speakers, communist books, and plenty of angry anti-fascist chants.
We’ll be distributing soup to the hungry and collecting dry kitchen staples. Give a soup, take a soup (or five) if COVID-19 and mass unemployment has you down! We will also be collecting tarps, tents, sleeping bags, gallons of water and socks for unhoused neighbors!
Don’t get within breathing distance of the KOVID Klux Klan! We’ll stick together to keep our side safe from right-wing violence, the only language these clowns speak fluently.
Costumes, musical instruments, merriment and spectacle are more than welcome and encouraged!
Participation Trophies are available for best costumes, signs, and soup recipes.
Black Lives Matter!
Nazi Scum Off Our Streets!
Whose streets? Our streets!
Whose land? Indigenous land!
In the email to Westword, the Denver Communists spokesperson notes that "right-wing vigilante violence against anti-racist protesters has become commonplace. It is a concern every time we march. Hostile drivers are a particular concern, especially because local cops and courts have given them a green light to plow into protesters without consequence."
Still, the rep adds, "We don’t think the fascists can muster much of a force this weekend. John Tiegen's recent attempts to rally III Percenter/Oathkeeper-types to attack anti-racist, anti-fascist protesters in the streets have fallen flat. Trump and Biden may have given the Proud Boys a signal boost, but that doesn’t automatically translate into the ability to organize."
By the end of tomorrow, we'll know if this prediction was correct.