EDITORIAL: Protesting the home of an Aurora GEO ICE prison official is terrorism — don’t go there


A proposal by metro immigrant-rights activists to protest at the home of an Aurora GEO ICE prison official is thinly veiled act of extortion and terrorism.

Members of activist groups Denver Communists and Abolish ICE Denver each posted events on their Facebook pages calling for a Sept. 16 protest meeting at a southeast Aurora recreation shelter and then proceeding to the nearby home of Johnny Choate, CEO of the Aurora GEO ICE prison.

“Why should Johnny Choate, the warden of the notorious ICE/GEO Group concentration camp in Aurora, get to enjoy quiet evenings in his suburban home after overseeing the torture and terrorizing of our asylum-seeking neighbors?” a Facebook post by Denver Communists said. “For at least one night, help us disturb this cruel warden’s peace and quiet!”

It’s an unnerving and repugnant act that borders on violence. It’s a scheme that clear-headed members of these and other anti-ICE or anti-GEO groups should work feverishly to stop.

Another poster said they would approach Choate’s neighbors, who activists say have a vested interest in knowing who Choate is and what he does at the GEO ICE prison in Aurora. They said neighbors would want to know if Choate was a member of the “Gestapo.”

Such sadistic “protest” tactics were exactly those of the German Nazi Party and the Third Reich.

We agree with activists that innocent immigrants should not be held in this or any prison. We agree that this and other GEO immigrant prisons are poorly run and seriously deficient in transparency and accountability. We agree that any kind of detention facility should be run by the U.S. government and not a for-profit corporation whose allegiance is to stock holders and profits.

But stalking GEO officials and their families, and especially at their homes, is nothing less than menacing, terrorizing harassment.

These two groups are not reflective of the peaceful, determined and righteous work of a huge community of activists and elected officials in Aurora and Colorado, and that community shouldn’t be tainted by this misguided protest stunt.

It doesn’t matter whether the targeted victim of these types of terrorist protests are abortion providers, elected officials, journalists, gun-shop owners or members of extremist groups themselves, this is wrong.

These two activist groups have every reason to protest at the GEO ICE prison, city hall, the State Capitol or the White House, but not in front of Choate’s house. It’s the antithesis of American democracy and the liberty bestowed by our unique American right to free speech.

Such protests go beyond lacking decorum, civility and decency, they upend the American democratic process by resorting to ruthless blackmail rather than the political process and the rule of law.

Such a protest undermines the noble mission these and others are fighting for: to treat everyone in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, humanely, fairly, logically and with respect.

Such a protest turns these activists into the very cruel and thoughtless henchmen they accuse GEO officials and their supporters of being. This brings the immigration argument and righteous supporters down to the level of the dictator-like Trump administration they’re fighting against.

Don’t do it.

If you’re a leader of these groups. call the protest off. If you’re a follower in these groups, beseech your leaders to find another way to bring humanity, decency and traditional American values to the issue of immigration.

Following through with this dangerous folly invites disaster for everyone, and it will only result in hurting the very immigrant community that years of protests at the GEO ICE prison have worked to aid and protect.