Just how sparsely attended was last week’s sit-in at the Colorado state capitol demanding an immediate halt to gun sales and gun ownership? As it turns out, not even Here4TheKids founder and grifter-in-chief Saira Rao was on hand for the first day of the protest, which she billed as a history-making moment that would forevermore change the direction of the gun control debate.
Rao wasn’t the only one who stayed away. While organizers predicted a turnout of 25,000 or more most local media estimates put the number closer to 2,500, and that appears to have been a very generous counting. According to the Colorado Sun, the Colorado State Patrol estimated there were between 500 and 800 people at the capitol on Monday, which was the biggest day by far. There was virtually no media coverage from the capitol grounds past Monday’s protest, and for good reason.
Here 4 The Kids organizers said participants would remain on the Capitol grounds for at least four days or until Gov. Jared Polis answered their demands by signing an executive order banning guns and creating a statewide buyback program. Polis did not sign the order and few protesters showed up after Monday. By Thursday afternoon, there was no one demonstrating outside the Capitol.
Despite the very visible failure of Here4TheKids’s supposed supporters to actually show up and sit-in, Rao says the group isn’t going away. But after her Mile High Misfire, the real question is whether anyone will care or even notice if they show up outside any other state capitol building.
The first day of the demonstration, June 5, saw a turnout of roughly 1,000 people — a significant number, but far lower than the thousands the group’s organizers had hoped to see. The protesters did not obtain an event permit to demonstrate on the west steps of the Capitol.
“We weren’t asking for permission,” Rao says.
Her strategy in creating Here4TheKids was to use white women — a demographic she describes as having “the most power in the country” and “the most privilege” — to go after gun rights in ways that would get ignored if pursued by minorities, she says.
Rao and other Here4TheKids leaders asked minority activists not to go to the June 5 demonstration as a matter of safety, according to Rao, who also stayed behind because she is not white. She says she doesn’t know if the fact that the majority of the protesters were white women ultimately prevented police from getting involved, but notes that “it couldn’t have hurt.”
“We know that white women are the most protected class,” she adds.
Give me a break. There’s a much simpler explanation for why law enforcement didn’t interfere with the handful of activists hanging out on the capitol grounds; there was no reason to haul them away.
A spokesperson for the Colorado State Patrol, which watches over the State Capitol, tells Westword that the group was not doing anything that warranted policing. “As long as they’re not being destructive or destroying any type of property, they still are allowed to be there,” said the spokesperson, who adds that had the protest gotten rowdy, the CSP would have gotten involved..
So much for Rao’s claim that this was going to be an act of mass civil disobedience. Instead, it basically looked like a normal afternoon in Denver.. at least as normal as Denver gets.
But that still doesn’t explain Rao’s absence on the first day of the protest, nor does her excuse that she had safety concerns. Here’s Rao a few weeks before the failed sit-in took place
“How do we know it’s going to work?” replies Rao. “Because if history is any guide, it always does.”
Rao compares the Here4TheKids movement to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous march from Selma to Montgomery to protect the voting rights of Black people in the Jim Crow South; the brutalization of the Black people by Alabama State Troopers ended when white people joined the march. “Denver is our Selma,” she says.
… The women who participate on June 5 won’t be like the “pink pussy hat”-wearing protesters who demonstrated against Trump, she says. “No, these are white women putting their bodies on the line. They’re coming to sit, and they’re not going to leave until they get this executive order from Jared Polis.”
… “This is civil disobedience,” Rao says. “This is a sit-in. This is a rising up of the people we have never seen in America in our lifetime.”
And it’s just the start. “It’s literally history,” she continues. “This is going to be probably the biggest thing that will have happened in any of our lifetimes. This is going to be a ‘Where were you on June 5?’ And I hope all you white folks are able to say, ‘I was in Denver.'”
Rao compared the smattering of gun prohibitionists to the estimated 25,000 Americans who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March, 1965, but civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t stay away from that march over fears for their personal safety. I doubt that Rao’s attendance would have actually changed anything in Denver on Monday, but the fact that she didn’t even bother to appear until Day Two makes her pre-protest remarks even more ridiculously silly.
This is the last piece I plan to write about Rao and her call to disarm, though I suppose if she tries to rally the prohibitionists to gather in Richmond, Virginia I’ll make the hour-long drive from my home to Capitol Square to do some firsthand reporting. I doubt that Richmond will be the next stop on her anti-gun tour though. Rao seems to be sticking to blue states, and given Here4TheKids’ pathetic attempt to take credit for California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for amending the Constitution with a variety of gun control measures, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sacramento is the site of the group’s next big faceplant. I doubt Rao’s going to give up on this completely, at least if she can still make some money off of gullible anti-gun progressives, but based on the sparse turnout Here4TheKids had in Denver I think its safe to say that wherever they go next it will not be the “biggest thing that will have happened in any of our lifetimes.”