Colorado supporters of President Donald Trump made their presence known on Saturday, March 4, by staging a rally on the steps of the State Capitol building. Hundreds came to the rally, some wearing patriotic costumes (like Uncle Sam suits) and others waving “Don’t Tread on Me” or “Trump/Pence” flags.
By 10 a.m., another group had amassed, to the west of the Capitol building.
Roughly sixty protesters dressed up in “black-bloc” fashion – wearing all black and covering their faces with masks and eyewear – marched in unison to confront the Trump rally. Some identified as anarchists or “antifa” (anti-fascist).
State Capitol police and Denver Police officers immediately formed a wall between the Trump rally and the approaching black bloc. As the rally continued, more and more officers would be called in to secure a perimeter around the Trump supporters. They included SWAT officers and riot police armed with specialized guns to disperse tear gas canisters. By noon, there was a one-to-one ratio of black-bloc protesters and law enforcement personnel.
Still, the opposing demonstrators were close enough that they could hurl insults at each other.
“Cowards!” yelled a female Trump supporter. “Show your faces!"
“You look like ISIS!” yelled another man.
There were chants of “USA! USA! USA!” and “TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!”
The black-bloc protesters yelled plenty of insults right back.
Below is a video that Westword captured of the confrontation:
Meanwhile, some drivers moving past the event on Lincoln Street honked. Several stuck their hands out of their car window and flipped the bird. It wasn’t clear which demonstration they were against.
While the black bloc had a megaphone, it often competed with the loud sound system that the Trump rally had on the Capitol steps.
“Our president needs us right now!” boomed a voice from the speakers. During the rally, there were multiple references to Trump being under siege from a “deep state” of rebellious intelligence agencies. There was also a reference to tweets that the president had sent earlier in the morning alleging that President Obama had wiretapped his phones.
Most of the Trump supporters seemed to ignore the black-bloc disruption, though some seemed to be eager for a confrontation.
One man wearing an INFOWARS shirt said, “This is half the fun; I hope they get sprayed down with a hose."
Another man, part of a group wearing leather jackets proclaiming themselves “Bikers Against Radical Islam,” turned to a fellow motorcycle rider and said, “Isn’t it time for a union police break so we can go down there and run them down?”
The black bloc burned a couple of American flags, which infuriated some onlookers.
There were only a few confrontations, involving some shoving, which were quickly dissolved by the heavy police presence.
One anti-Trump demonstrator, Cooper Carrington, was also forcibly removed from the rally after raising a fist in defiance.
“You’re telling me I can’t be here because it’s a permitted fucking event?” Carrington yelled at the officers after being removed. “I want to go back over there; I’m here to protest the actions of a government that doesn’t represent its people. I’m trying to convey a message that these people need to hear and these officers won’t let me.”
When the rally ended, more Trump supporters approached the police barricade that was separating them from the black-bloc protesters.
Officers and rally organizers appealed to most of them to leave.
“You’ve had a great rally. Now go home,” said Officer Ford of the State Capitol police. “Enjoy the day. I’d rather be home right now.”
One of the rally’s organizers, Mike McAlpine of Boulder, said he thought the rally went well, even with the black bloc trying to disrupt the proceedings.
“I think we had great people. It was terrific. It was a great turnout,” he said. “It was to support President Trump. We covered a number of issues including immigration, the Supreme Court, local activism. We talked about people who’ve actually gone out and made a difference. We had an immigration person come in from Austria; she’d been persecuted for taking a factual stance on Islam."
When asked if he had anything to say about the counter-protest, McAlpine smiled.
“It looks awfully hot to be wearing black today."
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