Activists Speak Out About Harassment After Armed Man Shoots Protester

Jun 16, 2020
Originally published on June 24, 2020 4:09 pm

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

There's growing concern about violence at anti-racism protests after an armed man shot a protester at a demonstration on Monday in Albuquerque, with a number of activists across the Mountain West saying they have been harassed.

In Rifle, Colorado, a Mexican-American man was walking home from a recent candlelight vigil for George Floyd when he says a white counterprotester began following him in a pickup truck. 

"The truck was pacing me as I was climbing the hill and entering my neighborhood, waving his middle finger and yelling at me through the window," said Steven, who declined to give his last name over fears he would lose his job as a public servant.

He didn't reach for his cell phone to call police during the incident, he said, because he feared the counterprotester was armed and would mistake it for a weapon. 

"I live in Rifle, Colorado. Anybody can have any number of weapons inside their vehicle and I wasn't trying to escalate the situation," he said. 

Steven later reported the incident to the Rifle Police Department. A spokesperson there told the Mountain West News Bureau that there were no other reports of similar incidents that evening.

Meanwhile, in Casper, Wyo., an organizer cited online harassment and threats of physical violence in their decision to step down from their leadership role with two activist organizations. And in Missoula, Mont., a black man was detained by armed men and women at a rally in Missoula before being handed over to police, who quickly released him. County prosecutors are looking into the incident, and Mayor John Engen released a letter denouncing the "self-appointed militia" gathering near protests there. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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