Colorado mayor says he called protesters ‘domestic terrorists’ out of ‘frustration’
Aurora, Colo., Mayor Mike Coffman (R) on Sunday called a group of protesters “domestic terrorists” in a now-deleted statement, later saying he used the words out of “frustration.”
The initial statement, titled “Aurora cannot become a Portland,” focused on property damage that occurred the previous night during a protest over the 2019 police killing of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man. The damage was caused by a small group of demonstrators who stuck around after most protesters left.
“Make no mistake about it, the ones who remained behind were not protestors, but domestic terrorists and they must be treated as such,” Coffman said in the statement.
Coffman quickly took down the statement and issued a second one that made no mention of terrorism.
The mayor later said he used the phrase out of “frustration.”
“I took it right down after I put it up,” Coffman said in an interview with The Denver Post. “The reason I took it down is it’s not appropriate. When we think about domestic terrorism in the United States, it’s the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, or the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, where the target is human beings, and certainly that was not the case here.”
“It’s hard to define what this is, so out of frustration I put that up, but I took it down right away,” he added.
The mayor also came under criticism for not addressing other violent aspects of the protests.
A man whose identity remains unknown to the public drove a jeep into demonstrators, prompting one protester to begin shooting at the vehicle. Two protesters were injured by the gunshots while another broke her leg trying to get away from the vehicle.
Coffman said later Sunday that he would be requesting a debriefing from the Aurora police department about the incident.
Civil unrest is leading to more protests across the country after President Trump sent federal agents to Portland, Ore., to quell demonstrations around a federal building. Trump has threatened to send federal law enforcement to other cities as well.