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Dear Editor,

Why is a brand new member of our community working to agitate our citizens into organizing an armed militia?

There is a backstory to this questions. In May 2020 a man moved from Boulder, to Chaffee County. His name is Mark Wolfgang and he’s associated with Shorebreak Security. August 7 he launched Chaffee County Patriots Facebook page.

The “About this page” reads- “a group dedicated to the preservation of our constitutional freedoms and was formed to organize and establish in-person meeting for like-minded patriots that are willing to protect and defend our communities.”

Protect from what? Protect from who?

The page mostly includes QAnon conspiracies, pro-Trump rhetoric and Hannah Hannah with guns. There is malicious content though- like a meme that reads “Congratulations Geroge Floyd on 100 days of Sobriety” and posts praising Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero.

Another post reads “A CALL TO ARMS: Antifa and BLM now promise violent retaliation to anyone who says ALL LIVES MATTER” to which a local responded “I see a few BLM signs in yards and think those people are probably not protected (armed) and thinking police they want to defund will protect them from the same terrorist they support. Perfect targets.”

On the page Mark makes comments like “The Leftists underestimate us patriots and the lengths we’re willing to go to protect our homeland. We’ve seen and heard the warning shots. They have no idea what they’re getting themselves into.”

What leftists? What warning shots?

As far as I know, there is no “Leftist” Boogeyman in Chaffee County. You will not find a Facebook page hosted by Democrats or liberals where they encourage each other to take up arms against their neighbors.

On Sept 18 Dave Williams, local Republican Party Chair reposted a flyer for a BLM Rally hosted by Salida High School students. He said it better not be taxpayer-funded. Other members commented and I quote exactly as written, “This is a rally to promote the burning of cities killing police officers and looting and its sponsored by YOUR tax dollars at a public school-just like the natzies did in the thirty’s.”

The thread grew to more than 180 comments- some calling for opposition to wait for the students at Alpine Park, in an act of intimidation. And so they did. Adults that organized on the Chaffee County Patriots Facebook page were waiting to intimidate our local youth in Alpine park, at the end of their peaceful demonstration in solidarity for equal rights.

I went to the rally too, and you know who wasn’t there- Mark Wolfgang or Dave Williams. After all the dust they’ve kicked up.

So what’s the deal boys? Because it appears you are both working to manufacture a threat within this community from behind your keyboards — by pitting neighbors against neighbors, adults against youth, and Radical Fear against Rational Thinking.

I don’t care what box you check on your ballot — you should be concerned that there are men in this county, some freshly arrived, who are working to manufacture a threat that simply does not exist in Chaffee County.

Dan Christian