FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swodoba spent the weekend looking at viral videos of a dozen men brawling in a ditch about a block away from his station’s headquarters.
“These weren’t kids after a high school game that were just excited and getting into a fight, these are grown men you know getting in a fight,” Chief Swoboda said. “It’s sad for the community. Sad for individuals who do that kind of stuff.”
What started as a pro-police rally on Saturday got heated, as counter protestors and rally goers escalated conversations into confrontations.
The chief says there were aggressors on both sides.
“You do see one group pushing another group, telling them to leave and they can’t be there, well that’s not their place,” Swoboda said. “They’re not the arbiters of who can be there and who can’t.”
So far, three people have been arrested, and another cited for the incident, but the chief says more charges are coming after people came forward with information and video to help investigators in the case.
“People showed up, they were looking for a fight. They show up with brass knuckles, knives, guns, fireworks, OC Spray, they got a Kevlar vest on,” Swoboda said.
Multiple sources tell the Problem Solvers a counter protestor pepper sprayed a disabled veteran, which triggered the brawl. The chief confirms hearing those reports, but can’t confirm that’s exactly what happened.
The department is still investigating what triggered the scuffle.
The chief says safety for his officers was a top priority during the rally, and they responded as soon as they heard reports of the fight.
“Standing with our backs to people who are armed, who are showing up to these events with bulletproof vests, it’s not safe to go in there and do that,” Swoboda said.
Event organizers are planning another pro-police rally in Fort Collins this Friday. Swoboda hopes the focus is more on productive conversations between rally goers and protestors, which did take place last Saturday, before the fight broke out.
“Simply putting on a t-shirt that says I support police, and then going out and breaking the laws and getting in fights, we don’t want that kind of support,” Swoboda said. “We don’t need it. Don’t come.”