EDITOR: Think of the terror of a young girl as she looks out her front window and sees six policemen in full riot gear guarding her front yard. Two motorcycle policemen stand watch on her sidewalk and a crowd of angry people yell obscenities at her father. Think of the neighbors who have to endure a parade of strangers yelling vile and disgusting things as they march down their street.
Last week, Direct Action groups organized a protest march through the Tollgate Crossing neighborhood in Aurora. The warden of the GEO immigrant detention facility lives in that neighborhood, and this was one more move in their continuing campaign to harass him and the company he works for.
The First Amendment granting Freedom of Speech, gives Abolish ICE and other Direct Action groups the right to hold these marches. But you must remember, the First Amendment also gives you and me the right to standup and say it is not OK to terrorize these people.
I did exactly that Monday night at our Aurora City Council meeting. I also called out a Facebook post made earlier this summer by the Chair of the Arapahoe County Democratic Party. In this post, she encourages her followers to act against GEO Group, the company that operates the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.
The post challenges her people to go to the Aurora Chamber of Commerce Facebook page and rate them down because GEO has a position on their board of directors. Not only did the rating of Aurora’s business community drop, Chamber and GEO employees began receiving threats and swastikas were painted on their property.
The most alarming part of the Chair’s post was the last paragraph, “Get involved with Direct Action groups like Abolish ICE Denver and support their actions (but please be aware that direct action may result in arrest and you must consider whether you are physically and financially privileged enough to take that on).”
Abolish ICE, Denver Communists and other Direct Action groups led the march through Tollgate Crossing.
When confronted with the actions of the groups she encouraged her followers to join, she claimed no responsibility, even though she had warned her followers that they may go to jail. She also refused to disavow the groups themselves. In fact, to my knowledge, none of her candidates or the sitting council members she helped get elected have renounced any of these groups.
If you are as disgusted with the bullying actions of Abolish ICE and the other Direct Action groups as I am, I ask you to use your First Amendment rights and speak out. Freedom of Speech cuts both ways and the best way to confront these actions in our neighborhoods is to shine the light of reason on them. We all just want to live in peace. No violence, no threats, just talk. Challenge the candidates on their views about Direct Action groups, and then vote for a candidate you align with. Make your voice heard.
GEO employees live throughout the city. Whose neighborhood will these groups march through next?
— AURORA COUNCILMAN DAVE GRUBER, via [email protected]