A crowd of about 300, carrying pro-Trump flags, the Gadsden flag and QAnon slogans, rallied at Colorado’s state Capitol while protesters in Washington, D.C. shut down Congress’ certification of the electoral college vote.
While angry, frustrated and occasionally boisterous, those at the rally have not been violent, in contrast to their compatriots in Washington.
Throughout the afternoon, protestors waved signs, and a steady stream of cars and trucks with flags and banners, some profane, circled the Capitol. A dozen or so members of the Proud Boys also stood nearby throughout the event.
A handful of counterprotestors showed up from time to time, and one woman who engaged with some in the pro-Trump crowd was later removed by Denver Police, presumably for her safety.
The rally was organized by the Colorado Election Integrity Project, whose members have been protesting weekly at the state Capitol since the Nov. 3 election.
Denise Williams of Adams County said she was at the rally to support Trump “and to support the illegal voting, everything that went with it; it wasn’t fair. If it was a fair vote, I’d be all right with it. But it wasn’t.”
Williams said there is proof of hidden and fake ballots and she claimed she received three identical ballots for the November election. She said she did not report it to Adams County and threw the two extras away, and that her dead sister also got a ballot.
“The 2020 election was stolen from 74 million-plus people,” said John Fogrey of Walsh, when asked why he was there. “The Constitution needs to be upheld, and if they allow this to go by, without going to court or challenging in Congress, we’ll end up like Venezuela. If America falls, the rest of the world goes to pot.”
Among the speakers: former congressional candidate Casper Stockham, who lost his third attempt for the US House in November; and Steve Barlock, a 2018 GOP candidate for governor and prominent volunteer for the 2016 Trump campaign, who loudly exhorted the crowd to purge the GOP of "cons."
The Trump campaign has lost more than 60 legal challenges to the election in state and federal courts.
During the rally, Denver Police and Colorado State Patrol officers in riot gear circled the Capitol by vehicle. Many of the buildings in the Capitol complex, as well as the parking garage across the street and the Supreme Court building, were boarded up. The state Capitol itself was also boarded up and locked down.
The rally at one point was as much as gospel revival as a political rally, with lengthy prayers and Bible verses recited to bolster views that their undertaking is a righteous one. But by 2 p.m., Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced he had ordered downtown municipal buildings closing early.
State Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail responded to a Colorado Politics tweet that “I was told to not come to Capitol. My staff was told it would be unsafe, not very gospel revival to me. We shouldn’t normalize a group of people calling into question a democratic election that has been shown to be fair. Shaking the foundation of our country.”
State Sen. Chris Hansen of Denver, who was across the street at the Legislative Services Building for a Joint Budget Committee meeting, said in a tweet that the JBC adjourned for the day around 2 p.m., several hours earlier than scheduled.
"I am safe. My thoughts are with our legislators, the staff, the Capitol Police, and everyone else under siege in DC. I hope for a rapid and peaceful resolution of the mob situation at the US Capitol."
The melee in Washington, where people broke into the US Capitol and halted the electoral college vote certification, was also on the mind of Coloradans. The proceedings were broadcast at the rally until they were halted by the shutdown.
Colorado elector Alan Kennedy told Colorado Politics that as a presidential elector and a veteran, “I am appalled that Trump incited insurrection to prevent Pence from counting our certified elector votes as required by the Constitution. Trump has pushed our democracy beyond the breaking point and we are seeing the consequences on live television. We are better than this. But make no mistake, We the People will prevail.”
Across Lincoln Street from the state Capitol, a banner advertised an exhibit at the Colorado History Museum, titled, “Democracy. Can we keep it going?”
Rally organizers called the event to an end shortly after 3 p.m.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, members of the Senate GOP caucus decried the violence in Washington and complimented those at the state Capitol who protested peacefully. Senate Minority Chris Holbert of Parker said "I am grateful for the reports from the Colorado State Patrol that, thus far, protests at our state Capitol today have been peaceful. Watching from afar, it saddens me to see our great nation so divided as violence has erupted in Washington D.C. While I honor the people’s right to peacefully protest, I strongly condemn such violence and the siege upon our nation’s Capitol. I anxiously await confirmation that all nine members of the Colorado delegation to Congress, Republicans and Democrats, are safe. Let us all renew our allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and to the Colorado constitution and work together in the interests of the People of Colorado."
House Minority Leader-elect Hugh McKean of Loveland said in a statement Wednesday evening that "We have watched the ongoing developments at the United States Capitol building with great sadness, and we are heartbroken to see the heart of our Republic overrun by the very people it is designed to serve. We are sick to see our people losing faith in their institutions of government and the rule of law. Yet, just as we criticized the actions of protestors at our own Colorado State Capitol this past spring, we condemn today’s desecration of the People’s House and whose actions do a disservice to all those who have served this country and fought and died for our freedoms."