Editor's note: The following have been submitted by Indy readers, unedited, un-fact-checked, and presented in whole. Join the conversation in the comment section below, or via email to letters@csindy.com.

Letter to the editor CSINDY

On June 6, I attended the Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally at the Colorado Springs City Hall, which I had previously done several times before to show my support to BLM. Little did I know this rally would be vastly different from the other peaceful rallies I had attended . Even though I am a candidate for State office HD14, my attendance was an act of listening and support to BLM, not as a candidate. On my campaign FB site, I did posted that I was attending with my friend Joe a Vietnam Vet, and encouraged others from our PTSD support group to come out and support BLM. As an Iraq Vet, I have bonded with Joe and the other Vietnam vets in our group since we have much in common with our military service. Once at the rally Joe’s sent me a text that due to the heavy rain, he was going to skip the rally. Joe is getting up there in age so I could really blame him for staying home.

The rally was friendly and diverse with moms carrying babies and dads holding toddlers. Young students and senior citizens alike held signs supporting BLM and George Floyd. One group of nurses joined in with signs “Nurses for BLM”! Everyone was there to come together to peaceful assembly and to honor George Floyd and support BLM. I had a wonderful time talking with the other Vets who attended. We all agreed these BLM events need greater veteran participation. After an hour decide to call it quits early and head home. Later that afternoon I learn that I had missed the most interesting part of the rally. Soon after my departure. A heavily armed militia group showed up and put forth various talking points as to their presence at the rally, but the main talking point centered on a bogues Antifa threat. The militia group was largely attributed to be the Three Percenters, or III%. (One BLM activist took and shared with me a photo of a militia member with his III% patch).

For those unfamiliar with the militia movement the Three Percenters were created and organized in the weeks following the election of Barak Obama. They justified their actions by wrapping themselves in the constitution, as 2nd amendment defenders standing up to the gun grabbing Obama. However, the election of Obama a black man was their real catalyst because they evidently considered the fact that a black man had risen to the presidency as an outrage. I have spent years studying and writing about this group and their origin story is outrage that a black man became President of the United States.

My interest with this group started while still serving as an Army officer. I witnessed the growing popularity of Three Percenter ideology among the ranks of the armed forces, as they portrayed themselves as defenders of the constitution especially the 2d amendment. Yet the group has a dark side as both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League considers the Three Percenters an anti-government extremist group. The Three Percenters membership spiked in 2013 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and piled on espousing strong hatred of immigrants and especially Muslims. They have consistently espoused the most virulent opposition to the BLM movement, which is why any appearance of them at a BLM event is extremely suspicious and should be treated as a hostile act. Many people like to use the term Alt-Right in describing these groups, but I prefer the term Neo-Confederate for the Three Percenters. They are like the white southern militias of the Post Civil War Reconstruction Era. They rabidly oppose any outspoken political leaders of Color, especially women leaders of Color. They have an ongoing hate campaign against Maxine Waters and especially AOCs “Squad“ with racist tropes and bigoted social media attacks. They have spent years using the racial slur of “Thugs” to describe the Black Lives Matter movement. In Georgia they threaten violence against Stacey Abrams if she won the governorship and will likely do so again if she is Biden’s VP pick, or if any other woman of Color is on the ticket. Yet, the Three Percenters claim to be non-racist and even have small black membership, this is largely a political expedience to avoid Department of Defense (DoD) labeling them a hate group. DoD is the most fertile recruiting ground for the Three Percenters, so they must keep up the facade of not being racist.

For several years I have researched and written about the Three Percenters because as a former Army intelligence officer I fully understood terrorist groups and insurgencies, and this group fits the profile of a terrorist entity. They have the political ideology and military capability with a complex command structure and organization to pose a significant threat. This past week after I read the csindy story “Who are the militia members showing up at Colorado Springs protests?” I commented on social media chastising them as a hate group and extremists for setting up a provocative sniper position overlooking the peaceful BLM rally on 6 June. With their long history of hate directed towards the BLM community and African American leaders, this was a clearly a nefarious act without justification. This extremist group quickly showed their true nature as a hate group, inundating me with hate and threats. Within hours they organized a nationwide social media campaign against me. As of this writing I have received over 57,000 hateful messages on social media. As typical of Facebook, all requests to restrain the hate speech was ignored. As an honorably discharged and disabled veteran, I was now labeled a communist, anti 2d Amendment, and a traitor to our nation. The Colorado III%, labeled me a “communist” to be “dealt with accordingly for my treason”. Then they put out to their followers that I was a “Tyrant” and to “get the ropes ready”. Never mind this lynching threat came on Juneteenth, which I found ever so insightful. They also expressed the hope that “Antifa would burn down my house”, a poor attempt to shift blame elsewhere when the Three Percenters decide to do it. Obviously, they have a very thin skin because they label all dissent or opposition as “communist”. I find their opposition to dissent amazingly like the gun toting Bolsheviks of 1917 and just as dangerous.

This entire incident is not about the right to bear arms, since Colorado Springs is an open carry city. I do not question their right to carry. I am more interested in knowing what rules of engagement they were operating under. They have an organized structure of command and control, so what rules of engagement did this sniper with his scope and a suppressor have? It was reported in the CSIndy the militia “wore yellow stripes on their shoulders, which they said designated they had been approved to be there by the police.” This lie was a cover story. The yellow making was so the roof top sniper could distinguish militia member from the rally attendees once the shooting started. Since the rally consisted of moms with babies and small children, students, veterans, nurses, and senior citizens, why didn’t the Three Percenters bring extra yellow marking to label them too? What if shooting had started? What was their plan for the non-combatants? The fact that the CSPD give a wink and a nod to this extremist hate group without their own presence at the rally is inexcusable and disappointing. We need to know why the CSPD has such a cozy relationship with this extremist group? The halo of respectability earned by Ron Stallworth has been badly tarnished by the CSPD by such association with this hate group.

I decided to enter the House District 14 race against Shane Sandridge, because on 7 Dec 2019 he stood on the steps of the State Capital with a group of Three Percenters. They were protesting Colorado’s Red Flag bill, a bill that will help protect women from dangerous domestic partners, help reduce our suicide rate and overall make our State safer from gun violence. As a proud gun owner and 2A supporter the Red Flag bill is not Communism as the Three Percenters would lead people to believe, but common sense. The fact that my house district representative would associate with an extremist hate group I found repugnant, that he opposes common sense gun laws I find tragic. That is why I decided to throw my hat in the ring and stand against hate and extremism. I believe in safe communities for everyone and it starts with all of us standing up to hate groups and extremists. That is why I am calling on the Colorado State government to label the Three Percenters as a “terrorist entity”. This is a legal phase recognized under international law and used in the counter terrorism community. Such a designation would not only force DoD hand in clamping down on Three Percenter activity on military installations, but force law enforcement to also act. Colorado is far too accommodating on the activities of the Three Percenters and based on Colorado’s long history of hate groups this is unacceptable and must change.

John Foley

US Army retired