By Sherry Simmons
There are always two sides to any story, unfortunately we often only hear one side.
This article is written to fill in some of the gaps in the newly released story from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ.)
The article by Dan Frosch focused on the division in Cortez, Colorado. It featured Cortez Mayor Mike Lavey and his opinions concerning the Montezuma County Patriots and the Black Lives Matter protesters. Mayor Lavey told the WSJ that he kept a resignation letter in his desk, because he could not stomach the division in the community. Mayor Lavey has not been neutral in these matters. He has been observed supporting the BLM, giving out snacks from his vehicle to the marchers and attending meetings. The Montezuma County Patriots have invited the Mayor numerous times to their rallies, but he has never attended. The Mayor's wife has been seen marching with the BLM on many occasions. A recent document from
a BLM marcher, states Mayor Lavey is a Legal Observer for the black lives matter group.
(The ACLU- Black Lives Matter definition of a legal observer:
Legal observers are individuals, usually representatives of
civilian human rights agencies, who attend public
demonstrations, protests and other activities where there is a
potential for conflict between the public or activists and the
police, security guards or other law enforcement personnel.
The purpose of legal observers is to monitor, record and
report on any unlawful or improper behavior by the police or
other government authorities.)
Witnesses have reported seeing Mayor Lavey driving by the Montezuma Patriots Rallies recording and taking photos. Emails sent to the Mayor inquiring why he was doing this have gone unanswered.
The Mayor also told the WSJ he began sleeping with a loaded revolver by his bed, and he had contacted (in January) the mental health team at the University of Denver -Colorado Resilience Collaborative. The advise he was given included forming a panel of 6 community members to facilitate a discussion on both sides. In the WSJ article, he went on further to say that he was not able to compile a committee. One may wonder if the Mayor's involvement and support of the Black Lives Matter protesters inhibited others from involvement?
Dawn Robertson is also featured in the WSJ story. Ms. Robertson is the organizer for the Black Lives Matter movement in Cortez.
Ms. Robertson told the Denver post in an interview that she had moved from California during the heat of national protest and when she moved here, immediately threw herself in to organizational efforts. Dawn Robertson is employed by Americorps.
(Americorps is part of the Bill Clinton Foundation-President Clinton signed the National Community Service and Trust Act, paving the way for AmeriCorps - Just to note the biggest donations to the Clinton
Foundation came from Bill and Melinda Gates.)
According to the article in the WSJ, Ms. Robertson said that she was shocked at what she heard from the Patriots, and it was nasty. She further added there was obscene language, middle fingers, and coal rolling. WSJ did not make mention in the article of the attacks the Montezuma County Patriots had endured. In 2020 a known BLM protester jumped in front of a motorcycle during one of the Patriot's rides. He then took a swing at the passenger trying to knock her off the moving motorcycle, only missing her by inches.
The Man took off running and was caught in an alley by citizens. He was held until Cortez City Police arrived. Charges were later dropped by the District Attorney.
The Montezuma County Patriots have encountered hate and violence over the past year and a half.
They have been cussed out, had objects throw at them, and they have been swerved at from approaching vehicles. Other negative examples include, flags vandalized, cars vandalized, business vandalized, and many Patriot participants have experienced the middle finger salute.
During the Dedication Ceremony of the Veterans' Park in September 2020, one of the Patriots was harassed. A woman came along side her vehicle and began cussing and striking the truck with her walking stick. When the Patriot asked her to "please stop, this is not the place; this is about our Veterans," the woman refused. to stop. When the Patriot told the woman she was calling the Police, the woman took off. The patriot followed her telling her she needed to stay until law enforcement arrived, the lady took a swing at her and tried to knock the Patriot's phone out of her hand before running across the street. The police were able to locate the woman and she was given a citation for harassment. The charges were later dropped by the District attorney.
Following the Ute Mountain Rodeo Parade, a Patriot family went to the near by Arby;s restaurant with their float in tow, and their 4- wheelers tied down. While having lunch, someone removed the tie downs from one of the four wheelers.
The family finished their lunch and left the parking lot. As they turned onto highway 491, the loosened 4-wheeler flew off the trailer and onto the road. There was extensive damage,
to the 4 wheeler, but thankfully no on-coming traffic was involved. This hate crime could have caused serious consequences, but by the grace of God no one was hurt.
The WSJ article did not mention any of the positive things the Montezuma Patriots have been able to accomplish for the community. Dedicated Patriots have made positive impacts with the Montezuma District Re-1 School Board. They have stood up to the city council and been a strong voice at the county commissioners' meetings. They honor our Veterans with events like Valentines for Veterans. The Patriots organized a community out pouring of support on Valentines Day with schools and churches joining in. They delivered around 1000 handmade Valentines along with sweets and treats to the Veterans Outreach center.
The Patriots were honored to join the Veterans in the Veterans' Day Parade and following the parade, the Patriots fed lunch to around 125 Veterans. Later, after learning that the town of Dolores had cancelled their Veterans Day Parade, the Patriots drove to Dolores and gave the Veterans a parade . Several accounts of witnesses reported seeing a Veteran standing on the side of the road; he stood in full salute as the Patriots drove by. When the parade was over, the Patriots parked to take down their flags and signs, and there were many tear- filled eyes, touched by the Veteran who saluted the entire time. The Patriots ended Veterans' Day with a firework display.
The Montezuma County Commissioners declared March 20th Cattlemen's Day, and the Montezuma County Patriots teamed up with the local Cattlemen's Association to celebrate. Hundred of Community members came together with flags, signs, and floats. From semi -trucks, farm trucks, to Buddy the steer mascot, the day was a huge success. The group rode down main street in support of ranchers and farmers , as spectators filled the streets. The event included a free lunch held at the Cortez Livestock Auction. End of the Trail Catering cooked hamburgers and hotdogs donated from the Cattlemen's Association. Delicious sides, and drink were furnished by the community. It was a day of celebration and a day to show appreciation to the farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly to feed this nation.
This is just a glimpse in to the Montezuma County Patriots .Readers may not know all that goes on because the local media has chosen not to report. The Cortez Rotary Club cancelled the Ute Mountain Rodeo Parade this year because they did not want the Patriots to
participate. So sad for the community that this sort of hate would trickle down and hurt Cortez.
The Patriots decided to organize the parade themselves The first plan of action was give the parade a theme, they chose "One Nation Under God". Sponsored by the Cortez Chamber of Commerce, the Patriots had only two weeks to put it together and pull it off. The Patriots went to work and were able to raise just over five thousand dollars from local business in this extremely short amount of time. The five thousand dollars was divided among the parade winners so the money could stay in the community and go back into local businesses. All other costs of the parade were covered by the Patriots. Sadly, this event was also not covered by local media.
Another event organized by the Patriots was held at the park this summer. It was held in support of Law enforcement/First responders . It was a community project which provided around 120 lunches to the Community Law Enforcement Officers, Staff and First responders. Additional lunches were delivered to Towaoc Police Department. Lunches provided consisted of sandwiches, chips, drinks, and many desserts. Children from the Light House Baptist Church launched the event by singing the National Anthem. It was a community effort and many offered and came to help. Money was donated by the community and there was one hundred and thirty one dollars left. The additional money was then used to purchase candy, fruit and cookies that were delivered to the police dept. and sheriff office the following week. Although this could have been a great moment to show support for our first responders, and Law Enforcement and to further exemplify how the community came together, again, there was no coverage from the local media.
The Black Lives Matter Movement began in June of 2020. It first began with protest on Montezuma Avenue. The Patriots ride began in April of 2020. Their paths crossed when the BLM protesters changed their venue to Main Street. It was shortly after this when dissent was visual. BLM carrying signs supporting such things as defunding the police, and posters stating "End White Supremacy," were something Cortez had not seen before.
Cortez has always been a quiet little town in rural Colorado where racism seemed far off, where the community comes together for any need and for anyone, with no skin tone attached. It is part of a community where neighbors help neighbors, with children playing with other children and with people coming together for what ever need that may arise.. The BLM protesters were offensive to many, some feeling personally insulted for they understood that they did not base anything on skin color. This is a community who honored Almighty God, Law Enforcement, our Veterans and America. Somewhere in the midst of the BLM protesting, a hate emerged for the American Flag and anyone who flew it .
A connection to the American Flag and President Trump seemed to go hand in hand. Patriots would be cussed out while flying an American flag and the words "F Trump" screamed at them. Although there were and still are Patriots who fly Trump Flags, not all do but the cussing comes anyway. Recently in Cortez in a night of hate filled rampage , businesses, homes , and vehicles were vandalized, the common denominator was the American Flag. Spray painting down several blocks and stealing dozens of American Flags. Many questions come to mind including, How did this come to be? Where does this hate come from? Why is this world wide?
To be continued next week in "The Rest Of The Story Part 2