By Associated Press - Thursday, June 11, 2020

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado sheriff said on social media that demonstrations around the country were not about race but were incited to create chaos during an election year.

“This nonsense our country is experiencing has nothing to do with race,” wrote Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, who is also the president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado. “It is totally political, fueled by extreme ideology and haters of America.”

The comments appeared Tuesday on his private Facebook page but the post was public, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reported.

Wiggins’ remarks followed a peaceful demonstration in Steamboat Springs over the death of George Floyd, a black man pinned down by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. His May 25 death prompted global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Wiggins told the newspaper in an interview Wednesday that he bases his opinions on thorough research and data, some of which he says is from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

“The data does not support this protest movement where cops are targeting blacks, and blacks are overwhelmingly killed by police more than whites,” he said. “The leaders of these violent protests use race as an excuse to riot and commit all sorts of crimes against innocent people in the name of justice.”

Wiggins, who has been sheriff for about 10 years, also said race relations have come a long way in the U.S. and “we’ve made a lot of progress and reduced the amount of racial disturbances that were present many years ago.”

He also said he was disgusted after watching the video of Floyd’s death, adding that “if there’s factual information that supports that there is racial profiling or something that is actually occurring, absolutely then there should be some action taken to correct that philosophical belief or that protocol.”

The sheriff is an independent elected official. The Routt County Board of Commissioners oversees his office’s budget. The board has yet to take an official position on Wiggins’ recent comments.

“(Wiggins) is entitled to his own opinions,” Commissioner Beth Melton said, adding that it’s clear the protests are about racism. “I stand in solidarity with the concerns that the protesters are bringing forward, and I think it’s a really important moment in this country’s history to shed light on the racism that is such a part of the fabric of this country.”

The executive director of the Colorado Association of Sheriffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Wiggins’ post.

In other developments:

- The head of Denver police’s watchdog agency announced it would investigate the department’s response to protests, including use of force and tear gas and how it handled allegations of misconduct during the demonstrations. The Denver City Council requested the investigation.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide