GOP leader in Colorado posts names and home addresses of public health workers online
On Monday, a leader of a Colorado town's Republican group began posting the names and home addresses of public health employees, apparently in response to COVID-19 restrictions.
Mark Hall, lead co-chair of the Parker Republicans, posted the information about two Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials on his personal Facebook page on Monday night, then shared the post in a Facebook group that he created, according to 9 News.
"Every day in our group I'll be posting the name and address of unelected, non-law enforcement officers who think they can flex muscles in businesses. We’ll see how strong they are at their homes," Hall reportedly wrote in a since-deleted post.
Hall released a statement apologizing on Tuesday, saying that "the actions I took were an attempt to express my frustration. But in hindsight, this was a very inappropraite decision."
WHY IT MATTERS
Hall, who unsuccessfully ran for Parker Town Council earlier this year, began posting to his personal page on Sunday night about Monday being "the day we as citizens stand up."
"If you work for the state, CDPHE, Tri-County or other agencies, you are on the radar, at your homes and elsewhere," Hall wrote, according to screenshots posted on the Facebook group "Living in Parker, CO."
"You want to be Anti Americans, Patriots are going to show you the errors of your ways. We didn't ask for this but you brought it on," Hall wrote.
Parker, located 20 miles southeast of Denver in Douglas County, has a population of about 57,000 people. Many posters on the "Living in Parker, CO" Facebook group reacted with anger and dismay to Hall's posts, with a self-described former public health official saying they were "beyond shocked" and "in a rage."
Other residents called Hall's actions "careless, thoughtless, and vengeful" and said "someone is going to get hurt from this."
In the post that included the personal information of two state public health department officials, Hall described them as "people you should visit without violence but airhorns, honking, and signs."
Calling COVID-19 "regular influenza," Hall said that "these are the people putting thousands out of work, killing businesses."
"Again, I am not advocating any violence or physical harm but let them know how you feel. When I said today was the day to start to fight back, I meant it," Hall continued. "The revolution is under way."
As reported by 9 News, early joiners to Hall's Facebook group included Republican Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas (who said she joined the group to monitor its activities) and Parker Mayor Jeff Toborg, who said he accepted an invitation to join without looking at its purpose or content. Toborg had, in early December, posted a graphic on his own Facebook reading "For your [restaurants], for your bars, for your speech and for your right to bear arms…#FightBack." That post was shared on the Parker Republicans' Facebook page.
Douglas County Republicans distanced themselves from Hall on Tuesday, saying that his organization is "not affiliated with the Douglas County GOP."
Jennifer Ludwig, deputy director at Tri-County Health Department, called Hall's page "disheartening" in an interview with the Highlands Ranch Herald.
"It's very concerning and increases stress levels," Ludwig said. "We just emailed the entire staff for situational awareness and safety measures they need to continue to follow."
THE LARGER TREND
Local and state health departments have been under increasing strain with the COVID-19 crisis, with hospitals sometimes leaning on them to help with federal patient data reporting mandates.
Now, they are being tasked with helping orchestrate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, with processes changing from state to state.
Given those looming demands, targeting from public figures about COVID-19 restrictions simply adds more weight on an already strained system.
ON THE RECORD
"We are the people fed up with the Health Department, Government Overreach, and the authorities picking business winners and losers," Hall wrote in the description of his now-deleted group.
"Colorado is one of the top 5 lock down [sic] states and there is no reason why," he added. "We will publish the names/addresses of all these people with no law enforcement abilities. We will publish every thing [sic] about them that is public record.
"If they want a war, we can give them that," Hall said.