Don’t reward dangerous rhetoric with promotions

Posted 6/7/21

As Americans, we believe that the promise of our democracy is only realized when there is liberty and justice for all - no exceptions. But we also know that certain extremist groups - including …

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Don’t reward dangerous rhetoric with promotions

Posted

As Americans, we believe that the promise of our democracy is only realized when there is liberty and justice for all - no exceptions.

But we also know that certain extremist groups - including conspiracy theorists like QAnon and militia groups like the Three Percenters - promote the opposite: that only some of us are `true Americans’ who deserve full rights and representation.

It’s clear how dangerous that kind of rhetoric is and we will defeat it by coming together across race and place, just as we have in the past. With the courage of our convictions, we can hold those who would seek to divide and exclude us to account, to truly make this a state and country where our leaders reflect the very best of every kind of American.

These convictions are why we are so disturbed by Westminster City Councilmember Dave DeMott’s response to a simple question during a public forum about why he chose to wear a hat with an emblem of the Three Percenters.

In a rambling February op-ed, he responds to the question not by condemning an organization and symbol that has been linked to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol - as well as to white supremacy, anti-immigrant bigotry and violence - but instead by attacking the person who asked the question, cherry-picking quotes to indicate what he sees as positive about the militia group and falsely implying that he only wore the hat once.

Meanwhile, the top Google search results for the term “Three Percenters” lead not to the group’s website or Facebook page - both of which have been taken down - but to cautions about them from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), two of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations.

The SPLC says, “Percenterism is one of three core components within the anti-government militia movement, along with the Oath Keepers and traditional militia groups.”

And the ADL says that “Three Percenters are part of the militia movement, which supports the idea of a small number of dedicated `patriots’ protecting Americans from government tyranny” and who have “direct[ed] their ire at...perceived foes, including leftists/Antifa, Muslims and immigrants.”

Surely, as Councilmember DeMott was researching to write his op-ed, he too must have found the links to the ADL and SPLC websites. The fact that he does not reference them at all – except, self-servingly, to dispute whether the Three Percenters are actually linked to white supremacy (reminder: they are) – is both unacceptable and chilling. So, too, is the fact that the only link DeMott does share is to the now-defunct website of the militia group, which would be hard to perceive as anything other than an act of promotion.

As the saying goes, when someone tells you who they are, you should believe them. We have seen Councilmember DeMott both wear the symbol of a hateful and violent militia group and defend his reasons for doing so, and we have seen enough.

We believe that Councilmember DeMott has proven himself to be unfit to hold office, and we call upon him to either resign immediately or be expelled from office by his peers. Any politician who associates with groups or symbols that promote violent and hateful extremism, such as the Three Percenters and their emblems, has demonstrably violated their pledge to stand with and represent all Coloradans, and should not continue to hold office.

Please note that this letter was originally drafted before Councilmember DeMott’s May 10 elevation to Mayor Pro Tem. We are deeply disturbed by this centering of extremism in the halls of power in Westminster, essentially rewarding DeMott’s divisive and harmful behavior rather than rejecting it. We applaud the Councilmembers who strenuously resisted his elevation and hope that the information we share here will cause other Councilmembers to have a change of heart.

Alex Galeana, CIRC Action Fund; Carmen Medrano, United for a New Economy Action; Hon. Joseph A. Salazar; Kevin Abels, UNITE HERE Local 23; Ron Ruggiero, SEIU Local 105; Wendy Howell, Colorado Working Families Party.

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