Supporters, protesters interact, dialogue and clash outside Western Conservative Summit

Outside of the Colorado Convention Center the day was full of shouting, marching, a little bit of violence and three arrests.

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An anti-Trump protester blares music in the face of a Trump supporter. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

An anti-Trump protester blares music in the face of a Trump supporter. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Donald Trump may have drawn a couple thousand supporters to the Western Conservative Summit Friday morning, but outside of the Colorado Convention Center, it was a different story, with shouting, marching, a little bit of violence and three arrests.

Protesters gathered on the corner of 14th and Colorado Streets to protest the presumptive Republican nominee’s appearance at the Summit.

Police moved in after a man grabbed pro-Trump bumper stickers from a woman selling them outside the city’s convention center, ripped some and threw them in her face. A pushing match followed and people spilled into the street.

Police in SWAT gear swarmed the crowd, ordered people to get out of the street. They led two men — the man who took the bumper stickers and a man who stepped in between him and the woman with the stickers into the same police van. A woman who refused to put out some burning sage was also arrested and later released.

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Police arrest two men outside of the Western Conservative Summit. "It's not your fault, it's the white man's," shouted one Trump protester. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Local groups Dump Trump, Denver Action Network, #OccupyDenver and the Boulder and Denver chapters of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) organized hundreds of protesters who stood alongside Trump supporters and voice their varying opinions.

Protesters held signs and banners advertising their various opinions: “Bernie 2016,” “It’s OK to Hate Trump,” “Purge White Supremacy,” “America was Never Great” and “Down with This Sort of Thing,” among others.

One protester, Greyson Curnett, 30, wore a top hat and pig nose. “I’m here representing the 1 percent,” he said. “I think we are all anti-Trump in our hearts, but I think he really is the most appropriate president for America right now.”

“We came out to tell Trump, ‘You aren’t welcome here,’ ” he added.

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Greyson Curnett, 30, sits on the steps of the Capitol. He was among a handful of protesters to migrate from the Convention Center to the pro-Trump rally. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Supporters mostly toted “Make America Great Again” signage, pins and hats, but Joe Shortino, 33, cut a more spectacular image. Armed with a long-horn and a wooden cross, he has been traveling the country on foot with his props. 

The demonstration was mostly peaceful, albeit loud, until 10:50 a.m., when violence broke out between a Trump supporter and protester. Police arrived in riot gear to arrest the two men whose identities have not been confirmed. Moments later, they also arrested a female protester for burning sage.

“The whole thing is a sham,” said Sean O’Brien, 28, a member of SURJ Boulder. “They want to divide people with conflict. But I did hear a lot of dialogue, which is positive.”

The police in SWAT gear left around noon and the crowd thinned out. Some in attendance, protesters and supporters alike, made their way to a 1 p.m. pro-Trump rally on the steps of the capitol.

A diverse roster of former and current congressional representatives, candidates, GOP leaders and advocates spoke at that rally, including Lana Fore, Casper Stockham and Raymond Garcia.

Former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo stepped up to deliver a few words about Trump’s potential.

“I miss the old America where there was just as much diversity, but it was called assimilation,” Tancredo said.“This is not a race issue.”

Boulder SURJ member and protester, Neil Dimuccio, 33, said he was relieved the day did not lead to more violence.

“I think it is normal for conflict to happen,” he said.

The gathering concluded around 2 p.m., after which only a small group of protesters remained.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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