Boulder County DA calms hate crime fears after election

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LONGMONT, Colo. -- Unsavory campaign rhetoric is causing issues in Boulder County, according to District Attorney Stan Garnett.

Garnett spoke out against crime motivated by intolerance at a public meeting Wednesday. The meeting lasted several hours, with representatives on hand from the U.S. Attorney's Office and other government agencies.

Officials worked to reassure people that Colorado law is very clear in protecting citizens and undocumented residents against hate crimes. Many in Boulder County said they have felt anxiety and uncertainty since the presidential election.

"The day after, it's kind of like you've been caught with a punch you didn't see coming," said Gabriel Gallacher of Boulder.

The force of that punch is still being felt by Democrats and Republicans, but Garnett said the polarized political climate has especially affected people in marginalized communities.

"We've had a lot of reports, phone calls, from people about people being called names, people being insulted-- often with a racial overtone or with issues around immigration," Garnett said.

Garnett said even some of his county employees have faced harassment spurred by emboldened intolerance, targeting not just adults but high school students as well.

"I thought we as a nation had been smart enough to push past these issues," Boulder High School student James Compo said. "I thought we had fixed this. But I think the election said -- we're still a nation that is very deeply divided."

To fight against the ugly tone, Boulder County and federal officials educated hundreds who gathered at the Longmont Museum auditorium Wednesday night.

The meeting's speakers pointed the public to resources on how to determine if they've been victimized and how to report hate crimes.

"Whatever is going on in the national political debate, Colorado law hasn't changed," Garnett said. "Colorado law protects everyone who lives here and we will apply it fairly to protect everybody who is here."

Garnett said that includes Donald Trump supporters who might face troubles for voting in the change concerning to many people in Boulder County.

Wednesday's gathering was the latest in a series of Boulder County District Attorney's Office community protection meetings. It was emphasized to take a new tone with concerns over hate crimes.