GRAND JUNCTION, CO — An ongoing pandemic and wildfires destroying over 120,000 acres just to the north and 28,000 to the east, the latter of which have resulted in significant smoke activity and ash fall in the Grand Valley, didn’t stop citizens from packing the public seating area within the Grand Junction City Council chambers and the overflow room.
Liz Sinclair, a resident of Grand Junction, said that a personal friend and young activist, who had spoken at the last city council meeting, was followed home after speaking out at that meeting by one of the many armed “counter-protestors” who had attended that same meeting.
Sinclair said that “as soon as [my friend] finished speaking, one of [the counter-protestors] suggested she wasn’t from here and in fact was antifa.” She went on to say that the man “chose to hunt this young woman down for a few days and even showed up at her work to verify her eligibility to speak at council.”
Sinclair said that the counter-protestors have gone from “being a laughable annoyance to a credible threat to our community.”
She called on council members to “unequivocally denounce this behavior,” and that to do otherwise would be “unacceptable and beneath you as our elected representatives.”
“There will be hell to pay”
Others who spoke included Eric Niederkruger, regional coordinator of the Colorado Poor People’s Campaign, who demanded that the city do right by the many houseless citizens in the area by providing them with clean water sources and to “call off police harassment of urban campers tonight.”
Niederkruger chanted the name “Citadel Security” several times and demanded to know the terms of the memorandum of agreement between the city and this private security firm.
“You’d better make time and find money to deal with this injustice, or there will be hell to pay for all of us in the near future,” he warned. “I kid you not.”
Andy Sweet, a mental health advocate with the Western Slope affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Health, spoke about the need for everyone to make a commitment to “repair the mental health of the valley” in order for “peace to be restored.” He asked council to to add his group to a future agenda so that he could deliver a presentation to them on mental health issues in the region.
Nick Allan, an Orchard Mesa resident, said that he wasn’t sure he would be comfortable inviting his best friend, a Black man with whom he grew up and went to high school. to visit him.
Allan said that this is “the first time in my life where I said, ‘Andrew, I don’t know if you should come here.'”
Saying that “the true burden of white men is to overcome our history,” Allan called out all of the white men on the council dais and in the room.
“I’m not saying you didn’t have struggles,” he said. “I have struggles. But one of your struggles is not because of your race or something you could not change.”
Twelve-year resident Mathias Mulumba took to the microphone and offered a counterpoint to the anti-racism activism and statements. He shared his story of coming here from Africa “with a suitcase” and thanked the law enforcement officers in the room for their service.
“These are not my enemies,” he said. “Black people, we are not victims.” He called out the violence and protests in Seattle and offered “respect and love and support” for police officers.
Near the end of the meeting, LGBTQ activist Caleb Ferganchick spoke about the exhaustion of having survived physical abuse, discrimination, and harassment.
He asked council to “put forth a universal and public statement that condemns violence against marginalized communities, especially people of color.”
The full video of the council meeting is below.