GRAND JUNCTION, CO – On Wednesday evening, Right & Wrong (RAW) organized the “Oppressed People’s March” to coincide with the Grand Junction City Council meeting. On the Facebook event page it was described as a way to “bring the voices of the oppressed peoples to the Grand Junction City Council meeting. Black, Brown, LGBTQ, Indigenous and all of our underrepresented communities.”
The peaceful march started at Lincoln Park at approximately 5:00 pm. Around the same time, an anti-Black Lives Matter group had formed a crowd outside of city hall in opposition to the march..
Some counter-protestors stood in front of the federal building with assault rifles and other weapons, wore “Make America Great Again” clothing and accessories, and carried with them American flags and bottles of liquor.
Daniel Haas, a Colorado Mesa University student and RAW member, said, “Personally I own guns and believe in the right to own them for defense within this country, so seeing these people armed at the meeting wasn’t what concerned me. What concerned me was their complete lack of regard for gun safety as well as their blatant attempts to use these tools of destruction as intimidation against peaceful protestors. The amount of people who lacked trigger and muzzle discipline, as well as the fact that they were mixing this disregard of fundamental firearm safety with alcohol deeply concerns me. It takes one negligent discharge to rob a family of their loved one. Above all else we must see this for what it was. It was not a use of their Second Amendment rights, it was their attempt to escalate and “ward off” a group of community members who want to improve the town they reside in.”
Dahlia Saenz, 17, who attended the march, said, “At first I was confused because it didn’t make any sense to me as to why you would need to bring a large assault weapon to a peaceful city council meeting. Also I was a bit scared because those weapons can literally kill people, and if someone is prejudiced enough, you never know what they can do.”
Many of the counter-protesters took up seats inside of the building and openly spoke about their fears over the BLM activists in Grand Junction.
All of the racial justice marches and rallies over the past two months have been peaceful, including the Juneteenth celebration at Lincoln Park, where Grand Junction Police Chief Doug Shoemaker had spoken and joined in the festivities.
Some local residents remain skeptical, though. Bob Jackson, a local business owner, said, “I have concerns about the climate we’re seeing today. And what I would like to know is what this council, the city, the county, and the state, if they have any plan to mediate what’s going to happen here. I need to know if I need to protect my business myself.”
The city council meeting concluded after about three hours. The next council meeting will be on August 19, at 6:00 pm.