Dozens of far-right conservatives and hate group members held a rally on the west steps of the Capitol Saturday afternoon to protest what they perceive to be censorship by Facebook. One Colorado Republican state rep helped produce the event and Walker Stapleton’s Super PAC was there to recruit staff.
The event was hosted by Major League Liberty, a far-right pro-Trump social media podcast. It prominently the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization that describes itself as representing “Western chauvinists.” The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Proud Boys as a hate group “whose leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.”
Officially titled the Rally To Protest Internet Censorship, the event drew approximately 60 people as well as 40 or so counter-protesters. Nearly as many Colorado State troopers maintained a wide perimeter between those attending the event and those protesting it.
Speakers included State Rep. Alexander “Skinny” Winkler (R-Northglenn) and Republican Congressional candidate Mark Barrington, who is challenging Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter. In his speech Rep. Winkler said he supported free speech and liberty unequivocally. He mentioned that his sound company provided the audio equipment and that he was “happy to help out.”
Also in attendance was a representative of Better Colorado Now, the Super PAC supporting Republican Walker Stapleton’s campaign for governor. Wearing a Better Colorado Now polo shirt that read, “Elect Walker Stapleton,” Ben, who did not give his last name, said he was hoping to hire people to knock doors for his group. He said they “help elect Republicans.” According to the group’s registration with the Secretary of State, its purpose is to “Oppose Democrat candidates for governor and support Walker Stapleton for governor.”
Two of the attendees sported a popular Proud Boys T-shirt that reads “Pinochet did nothing wrong!” with the letters “RWDS” on the left sleeve. The acronym stands for “Right Wing Death Squad.” The back of the shirt, kept covered by both men during the rally, depicts people being murdered by being dropped from a helicopter.
Many of attendees wore protective clothing, from tactical gloves with hard plastic knuckles to helmets and various types of arm padding. One man sported a set of hockey pads. Two others wearing street clothes said they fought with some “black bloc” types in Civic Center Park on the way to the event, with one saying he was struck in the head by a baton. He noted that the attackers were not part of the protestor group on the sidewalk.
UPDATE: The original title of this article has been changed to reflect the fact the Major League Liberty was the only official host of the event.