Tension at GJ City Council Meeting

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Some Grand Junction City Council members shared a heated exchange Monday, in regards to community members and protesters appearing at a council meeting earlier this month.

Many residents attended the June 17th council meeting to express their concerns about the behavior of community leaders during that public discussion.

“So not only Phil, but the Mayor, I would ask you to resign as well,” said Zack, a citizen of Grand Junction.

“You signed up for the job and you need to have an open door policy for all,” said former council member Cindy Enos-Martinez.

This, after a 10 minute heated exchange on June 15th between Mayor Duke Wortmann, Councilman Phillip Pe’a and Councilwoman Anna Stout.

“Anna, here’s my promise to you Anna,” said Pe’a, “The next time it happens, I won’t be as pleasant.”

“You don’t have to be pleasant,” said Stout, “You can be whatever you want to be.”

“Then it’s gonna be hostile,” said Pe’a, “and then what?”

“Because of the way that you brought them in here,” said Wortmann, “The way you did that.”

“The way I did?,” said Stout, “I simply told them where they were allowed to be and when.”

The disagreement stemmed from the protesters and concerned community members who showed up to the June 3rd council meeting and addressed local race-related issues.

“I don’t know whether to bring my glock with me in the building or not, that’s how serious it was, Anna!,” said Pe’a, “Seriously, they were rolling out, they were coming in, they had their swat gear, what was I to think?”

“It was a peaceful protest, people exercising their first amendment rights,” said Stout.

“And that’s why we had so many police in the building?,” said Pe’a.

“‘Peaceful protest,’ people ranting and raving,” said Wortman.

The June 15th conversation was on the record and resulted in a wave of community response on Wednesday.

“You guys set the example for the rest of this community and you may not be racists, but there are racists who are paying attention to how you respond to this,” said Matthew Crowe, a teacher at Palisade High School.

One speaker read threatening Facebook posts from community members towards activists.

“‘This area might become an ANTIFA graveyard, lots of deserted areas in the county to dig a mass grave,” quoted Jennifer Hancock, a professor at Colorado Mesa University.

Meanwhile, some came to show support for the council members, one speaker attempted to discredit local activists.

“You guys are phenomenal, you don’t have to bend over and take this crap from a bunch of black activists from out of town,” said Mark, a local citizen.

During the discussion on June 15th, Councilman Pe’a argued that he wasn’t given proper warning, “That’s not fair to me.”

“Greg did put it in an e-mail,” said Stout, “Greg said we are expecting protestors, it came in an
e-mail.”

“I have a full time job,” said Pe’a, “I don’t have time to visit my e-mail constantly.”

Mayor Wortmann agreed with Pe’a, “A complete lack of respect for the decorum that’s been created for 100 years in this room.”

But many of the community speakers at the July 17th meeting felt differently.

“Ana, thank you for having our back, thank you for sticking up for us, thank you for handling it with class,” said Jonni Marsh, another local citizen.

“Why do I need council support to give a space, that is a public hearing, to members of our community?,” said Stout, “Who don’t feel like they’re traditionally heard or listened to or invited to the table.”

“I get it, Anna” said Pe’a.

“I invited them to the table,” said Stout.

“I get that,” said Pe’a.

The June 15th exchange is about 10 minutes long, click here for the full video. The conversation begins just after the 03:01:40 mark, when Councilman Pe’a begins speaking.

You can find the full video links to all other public city council meetings on that website, including the June 3rd and June 17th meetings.

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