A fight between a pro-police group and a Black Lives Matter group resulted in three arrests over the weekend.
Northern Colorado Young Republicans organized a Back The Blue rally that was held Saturday at the Fort Collins Police Services headquarters, reports 9 News. Black Lives Matter protesters, who had held their own rally earlier that day according to the New York Daily News, arrived later and set up across the street to counterprotest.
The two opposing groups began engaging and eventually ended up in a grassy area between the backyards of two houses a few blocks away from police headquarters, according to The Denver Post. A fight then broke out in a ditch, and videos show punches being thrown and people holding one another in chokeholds. Flag poles, batons and water bottles were used as weapons in the midst of the altercation.
Pro-police rally attendees outnumbered Black Lives Matter protesters.
Back the Blue rally goers push out BLM counter-protesters and then attacked them. Fort Collins, CO. pic.twitter.com/FbyWRpBUJ5
— Joshua Rodriguez (@Joshuajered) August 9, 2020
Officers finally arrived at the scene but only after the incident had begun to subside.
One man involved in the altercation said it began when a counterprotester pepper-sprayed a man in a wheelchair who was identified as an Air Force veteran, according to KDVR.
Other witnesses said the violence only started after Black Lives Matter supporters simply crossed the street and approached the pro-police attendees.
“I was at the Pro Police FCPD rally today,” Ciara Wilson wrote in an Instagram post that has since been deleted, according to the Daily News. “Counter protestors were violently beaten and had no signs of aggression or hostility. Pro police protestors forced them to the end of the block and then savagely assaulted them.”
Three people were arrested for disorderly conduct. Of those three, one was also charged with resisting arrest and another with possession of an illegal weapon. A fourth person was cited with criminal tampering.
Those arrested were booked into Larimer County Jail, reports the Coloradoan.
Police action was taken against people in connection to both protesting groups. Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said there were “active aggressors on both sides” of the incident.
“We respect everyone's right to peacefully assemble. Our officers have consistently supported these rights in recent months as people have gathered to make their voices heard. For the safety of our community, acts of violence and other unlawful behavior have not and will not be tolerated from anyone,” Swoboda said in a statement.
Swodoba said the actions of the groups did not support the values of the police department.
“Committing crimes in our community is not a way to support police. We stand for safety, period. We want all of our community members to feel safe here in Fort Collins and we reject any form of hate,” he said.
Wilson said the counterprotesters were detained without being told why. She said the pro-police organizers who incited the violence were allowed to walk free.
Because some of those involved in the fight had fled the scene prior to police being able to identify them, officers are reviewing video of the incident and asking witnesses to come forward.