Islamophobic Mesa County Group Gets Pushback

RallyAgainstA fringe right-wing Mesa County group that planned an open-carry protest October 10 in front of a Grand Junction mosque was forced to back down after a counter protest that was quickly organized via social media at the same place and time drew far more participants than the Muslim-hater event.

The larger (national) anti-Islamic group “Global Rally for Humanity,” which organized the protest at the mosque, was formed by a combination of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters*, two radical, militaristic pro-gun, fringe right-wing groups that Mother Jones magazine calls “the Tea Party’s military wing.”

The Grand Junction protest was part of a global effort to stimulate anti-Islamic protests in front of mosques around the world on Saturday, October 10. The Grand Junction group created a Facebook event page to plan their protest. By yesterday afternoon (10/1), when word got out about the planned protest, only 17 people had signed up to attend the event.

In response to the Global Rally’s announcement of the protest planned at their mosque, the Islamic Center of Grand Junction issued an official statement:

“A salamoalaikom brothers and sisters.
Peace be upon all Grand Junction people.

As a Muslim community, we’ve lived in Grand Junction for many years, practicing our religion freely in a beautiful and peaceful city. We thank all Grand Junction people from other faiths who always support us.

We received messages from some good brothers and sisters from different faiths offering their support and warning us of a group of people who call themselves Global Rally For Humanity. This group is anti-Islam and they are planning to come and protest by our islamic center.

We welcome everyone to come including the anti-islam group. We want to let everyone know that we are a small and peaceful community and wish no harm to anyone be it a Muslim or non Muslim.
Our goal is to practice our religion freely and live in harmony and peace with everyone in town. We respect the law and constitution of the United States, and we also respect people’s way of life.
We are not here to impose our way on anyone.

Again, we thank people of Grand junction for their support. God bless you!”

Armed "Oath Keepers" roamed the streets of Ferguson, MI, exacerbating residents' unease after the death of Michael Brown

Armed “Oath Keepers” roamed the streets of Ferguson, MI, exacerbating residents’ unease after the death of Michael Brown. the Global Rally islamophobic group was a combination of the Oath Keepers and the Three-Percenters

When the event appeared on Facebook, however, Grand Junction resident Adam Anderson quickly organized Grand Valley Unites Against Islamophobia, a counter-protest event to be held at the same time and place as the Global Rally. The simultaneous protests set the stage for a potentially volatile showdown, but by the afternoon of October 3, 131 people had signed up to attend the counter-event, and the Islamophobic group cancelled their event and took down their Facebook page. Word is that the counter-protest will go on despite the cancellation of the original hate event. It will be non-violent and non-religious, and held to show support for Grand Junction’s Muslim community. Word is there will be cookies and drinks, and the event will go on all day on October 10, in case the original hate group is still planning the event using some other means.

Positive Culture Shift Continues in Grand Junction

This pushback against a fringe right wing event in Mesa County, conducted entirely on Facebook, shows an ongoing a culture shift continues in our area that is trending towards more a accepting and peace-loving attitude among area residents. It also shows that potentially dangerous “showdowns” with bigoted subgroups can be averted when such radical groups announce their intentions online. Social media allows peaceful counter-actions to be organized quickly against these kinds of inflammatory activities. Social media combined with an active, caring populace versed in its sue, can make all this happen electronically, before any gun toting, militaristic fringe groups actually show up on the streets and cause unease and confrontations potentially leading to injuries or deaths.

Go, Grand Junction, and thank you for this great case study in how social media can help sanity and compassion to prevail, and how it can be used to push back against bigotry and maintain peace in our community.

*UPDATE: October 4, 2015, 11:23 a.m. – Jesse Nelson, the coordinator of the Grand Junction Three Percenters group, reports that his group was not “officially connected” with this event, and made a formal request for this information to be added to this post.

Western Colorado Atheists & Freethinkers Booth a Hit at the G.J. Farmers Market

WCAF's "Atheist Quiz" is always a hit at the downtown Grand Junction Farmers Market

WCAF’s popular Atheist Quiz is always a highlight of the downtown Grand Junction Farmers Market, and the only booth that offers passers-by a knowledge challenge

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) again hosted their highly popular booth at the Main Street Farmers Market in downtown Grand Junction on Thursday, 9/24.

So far, WCAF’s has been the only booth at the Farmers Market to challenge people’s knowledge and sense of fun by offering a short and always-entertaining Atheist Quiz.

People seem to love it, too.

Mesa County Commissioners Work to Stomp Out Wilderness Areas

Local conservative Marjorie Haun, who promotes the use of firearms and writes in her blog, "," that poverty is a lifestyle choice, white privilege is a myth and marijuana use "turns young men into biological young women."

Mesa County Republican activist Marjorie Haun echoed the sentiments of the county commissioners when she stated her belief that wilderness “is an absurd notion.” Haun also promotes the use of firearms and writes in her blog, “,” that poverty is a lifestyle choice, white privilege is a myth and marijuana use “turns young men into biological young women.”

An article in today’s Daily Sentinel titled “Land of Bewilderment” says the Mesa County Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose a Congressional bill recognizing several new wilderness areas in Mesa County, including 75,000 acres in the Little Bookcliffs and the land surrounding Gateway’s stunning signature rock formation, The Palisade. Commissioner Rose Pugliese said more wilderness “is not in the best interest of Mesa County.”

Mesa County “Reagan Girl” GOP activist Marjorie Haun echoed Pugliese’s sentiment in the article, calling wilderness “an absurd notion.”

Haun and the commissioners are part of a shrinking number of people who actually believe a last-century myth that wilderness is economically harmful to nearby communities. This old-school notion is usually accompanied by a “jobs vs. environment” argument in which believers insist there is an inherent tradeoff between economic prosperity and wilderness designation.

In truth, wilderness areas don’t just protect the environment, but also have a net positive effect on local economies by generating revenue through recreation dollars, increasing property values, and generating jobs in support of a sector the Commissioners completely dismissed without a thought: outdoor recreational activities like activities like hiking, climbing, camping, paddling/kayaking, bicycling, spelunking, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and snow sports. The outdoor recreation economy in the U.S. supports 6.1 million jobs, generates $80 billion in annual tax revenue, and generates about $646 million in annual spending, making it one of America’s most important job sectors. Mesa County deserves a piece of that pie.

Wilderness = Economic Prosperity

NOT WORTHY? The Palisade -- the signature rock formation at Gateway, Colorado

NOT WORTHY? The Palisade — the signature rock formation at Gateway, Colorado

A 2004 study of of 113 rural counties in the American West, 43% of which contained designated wilderness areas, showed that between 1970 and 2000 there was a significant positive correlation between the percentage of land designated as wilderness and population, income, and employment growth. New forms of economic activity accompanied the growth of wilderness areas. Growth in investment income and self-employment income were also correlated with the presence of wilderness.

We’ve already seen an example of this locally after Fruita jump-started its new-century era of growth by marketing itself as a mountain bike mecca. Fruita intelligently capitalized on its proximity to significant public lands like the desert north of Fruita on 18 Road, and the wilderness of Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area. 

Mesa County should be just as intelligent about wilderness areas. We don’t have to let old-school GOP commissioners who cling to outdated myths ruin the future of Mesa County any more. If you support the bill to designate more wilderness areas in Mesa County, email Colorado Congressmember Diana Degette, who introduced the bill, by clicking on this link.


Air Force Two Spotted at G.J. Regional Airport?

AirForce2?The above airplane, which closely resembles Air Force Two used to transport the Vice President of the United States, was spotted doing repeated touch-and-go landings at the Grand Junction Regional Airport on Saturday, September 19 at 11:00 a.m. Below is a photo of one of the airplanes that serve as Air Force Two when the VP is being transported in it. Note the extremely close resemblance. Could it be the same plane? If so, what was it doing here in Grand Junction?:


Air Force Boeing C-40B used as Air Force Two


In an example of a truly bad marketing idea, a sunflower seed snack manufacturer chose this very unfortunate name for its products

In this stunning example of bad marketing, a sunflower seed snack manufacturer chose a most unfortunate name for its products. The ad was seen perched atop the gas pumps at the Bradley at Patterson and 25 Road