Colorado state trooper on admin leave over comments during Proud Boy protest

A Colorado state trooper has been placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced online in which he tells a group of Proud Boys to stick around if they want to fight someone. But the video appears to be taken out of context. The clip was posted Saturday by the account Official Alt-Left along with this description:

That 30-second clip has now been removed over a copyright claim, however not before the story got picked up by the Denver Post with the same basic slant, i.e. the trooper was inviting right-wing protesters to start fights with Antifa counter-protesters [emphasis added]:

A Colorado State Patrol officer was placed on paid administrative leave after a video showed him instructing a gathering of right-wing activists on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol on Saturday to “stick around” if they wanted to fight counter protesters.

The video, which was posted to Twitter by the “Official Alt-Left” account shows the officer approaching a group of men and asking them not to record his comments.

“I know some of you came here to fight,” the trooper says in the video. “That is not happening today. If you want to fight, stick around. I’ve got a couple of guys, they also want to fight.”

The trooper’s comments were met with cheers by the crowd.

If you’re paying attention, you may notice that the claim made in the opening line of that story (that the cop invited them to stick around if they wanted to “fight counter protesters”) is undercut by the actual quote in the third line. The trooper never suggested he wanted anyone to start a fight. On the contrary, he said “some of you came here to fight” referring to the right-wing group, before adding “That is not happening today.” That seems pretty cut and dry.

The part about sticking around was pretty clearly meant as a joke. It’s hard to hear but 9 News reports the trooper even said he was joking:

While the group of far-right protesters seemed to enjoy what the trooper was saying, it’s not clear what the trooper himself meant.

Later in the video, the CSP trooper can also be heard saying, “Of course I’m joking.”

Also, it seems possible the “couple of guys” he was referring were not counter-protesters who were not nearby when he said this but other police officers, some of whom were standing nearby as he delivered the statement. That’s how one protester who was there listening to the speech took it. The man, who goes by the name Louie Huey, posted a video on Facebook saying, “He was saying if you want to come back, he’s going to fight you and put you in jail…if we would have disobeyed their orders, they would have gotten after us.”

It’s also not true that the statement was met with cheers. It was met with laughter by a group that clearly found the officer’s blunt warning amusing. But again, the message was not that anyone should start a fight with counter-protesters. It was exactly the opposite of that. Here a report from 9 News in which you can hear the Trooper say this.

Maybe the trooper deserves a slap on the wrist for the tone of his remarks, but the idea advanced online and by the Denver Post that he was encouraging attacks on Antifa doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.