In an appearance on The Steffan Tubbs show yesterday on 710 KNUS, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) avoided directly saying if he supported federal troops being deployed in Denver to address protests. Gardner maintained that he supported the police and was against violent protests but would only say that he would support a federal investigation if federal laws were broken.
Gardner’s appearance came three days after a rally in Civic Center Park on July 19 supporting police was interrupted by a counter-protest against police brutality. Conservatives decried the counter-protest and claimed members of the Black Lives Matter movement instigated violence and attacked the “Back the Blue” rally.
Federal paramilitary officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were deployed in Portland, Oregon, last week to quell protests and pulled protesters off the streets in unmarked vans. In a press conference yesterday, President Donald Trump promised that he would be sending federal troops to the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, Chicago, and Albuquerque.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) supported the U.S. Government sending federal troops to cities in a tweet which was liked by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). Republican State House Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock and state Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs have both explicitly advocated for Trump to send troops to Denver.
Tubbs asked Gardner eight times throughout their interview if he would support a deployment of federal troops to Denver, and Gardner never explicitly gave an answer or a definitive stance.
“We have a poll question right now: should President Trump send in federal troops or federal police to Denver? Sixty-nine percent of those that are taking the poll say yes. What is your assessment of that and how do you feel about it?” Tubbs asked Gardner on the show.
“Look, the city of Denver needs to make sure that they’re upholding the law, that they’re protecting its citizens,” Gardner responded. “That’s where it needs to start. There’s no need for federal troops, if they uphold the law. And there’s no need for federal intervention if they uphold the law.”
Tubbs did not relent and asked Gardner again if he supported a federal investigation into Sunday’s clash of protests.
“Do you call for a federal investigation into what happened on Sunday?” Tubbs asked.
“Well, look, every federal violation should be investigated,” Gardner said. “There’s no — sort of – ‘get out of jail free’ card for people who are breaking the law when it comes to states or federal crime. Every scintilla of the law should be followed because that’s who we are in this country.”
After the Gardner interview, several people called into Tubbs’ show to lambast Gardner’s lack of response. The callers explained that they didn’t trust Gardner and observed that he ducked the questions about federal troops every time he was asked.
“In Colorado the Republican Party is dead as long as we have guys like him,” one caller said. “That’s the best we can do?”
The protests Sunday at Civic Center Park resulted in the arrest of one Black Lives Matter protester, and police used pepper spray to clear out the protest. Still, some conservatives criticized the police for their lack of action to prevent the fighting that took place.
Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin said that she saw two Back the Blue supporters beaten by Black Lives Matter protesters and Republican candidate for Colorado’s house district 24 Laurel Imer said she saw a leader of the rally attacked with a longboard. Imer told KDVR Fox that the Denver Police at the park just stood and watched as conflicts turned physical.
In an interview with Peter Boyle on KNUS yesterday the president of Denver’s police union, Nick Rogers, called for police leadership to apologize for failing to protect pro-police protesters.
“We as police officers, we’re not able to root for one side or the other, like the Broncos and the Raiders,” Rogers said in the interview. “We don’t get to root for one side or the other. We’re not allowed to let one side win. But guess what? We did on Sunday. And for that, we were wrong. And for that, an apology should be made to… every person who was there.”
In an interview with the Denver Post Lillian House, a member of the Denver Party for Socialism and Liberation — the group who organized the counter-protest, argued that most of the protesters were not violent. She said that they were just making noise to drown out the speakers from the police rally and that the violence was not one sided like conservatives are indicating.
“Quite clearly the people on the right came with the expectation that if we showed up, the police were going to crack down on us violently — and they didn’t get that,” House told the Post. “I think that speaks really clearly to who is really the violent side.”
A call to Gardner’s office seeking to know why he wouldn’t say whether he wants Trump to send federal troops Denver was not immediately returned. This piece will be updated if Gardner’s office responds.