Approximately 350 protesters gathered at the state capitol on Sunday May 17. Most called on Governor Polis to end the public health order enacted to protect Coloradans from the COVID-19 virus.
Former CIA contractor John Tiegen, who is known for surviving the 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, headlined the event, which featured a large contingent of motorcycle club members. Tiegen is also a prominent supporter of President Trump, having submitted the petitions to place Trump on the ballot for reelection.
Many attendees’ signs and clothing, however, addressed a variety of other issues, including opposition to vaccines, support of the Q-Anon conspiracy, and gun rights. At least two signs read, “I will not be masked, tested, tracked, chipped, or poisoned to support this orchestrated lie.”
State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins), who also serves as Minority Caucus Chair, attended the event. She later posted photos on her Facebook page, declaring, “Proud to be STANDING, today and everyday, with my fellow Coloradoan’s [sic] here at the Capitol! What a gathering of incredible Freedom Fighters freely breathing RED, WHITE, and BLUE !! OPEN UP COLORADO NOW!!”
Several attendees showed their support for the anti-government “Three Percenter” movement with signs, flags and clothing. The Southern Poverty Law Center designates groups associated with the movement as anti-government extremist groups, including two in Colorado classified as militias.
Members of the gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners participated by circling the block in the RMGO Pinzgauer, an Austrian troop transport vehicle decorated with flags and logos.