Dec. 5—Editor's note: The article below has been updated with a different description of the governor's residence.
More than 200 people marched Saturday through downtown Boulder to protest vaccine passports in indoor settings. The crowd rallied past late-morning brunch-goers eating outside, people waiting in line to get a photo with Santa near the Boulder County Courthouse and weekend shoppers bustling from shop to shop.
The group started their rally outside Gov. Jared Polis' Boulder condominium along Walnut Street, near Pearl Street.
Robbie Rose, 46, of Fort Collins, chanted into a megaphone with the crowd: "Power to the people. We don't follow sheeple," and "Jared Polis shame on you, segregation isn't new."
Rose said her message Saturday was, "People cannot comply their way out of tyranny. That the machine will turn against everyone who is complying. This isn't going to get better by doing what you're told and that the boosters will be never-ending."
She emphasized Saturday's march was about protesting vaccine verification programs and a public health order signed last month that mandates residents in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson, Broomfield and Denver counties require vaccination for those 12 and older to attend indoor events with 500 or more people. The public health order went into effect Nov. 19.
Boulder County is among Colorado counties with a vaccine verification program that's optional to business owners. The program allows businesses to opt out of the indoor mask order, if they assure that at least 95% of the people they're serving have been vaccinated. This requires customers to prove their vaccination status through several options, including with a photo or copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record card.
"I'm protesting the passports," Rose said. "I don't care if people get vaccinated."
Boulder County Public Health is among a group of metro public health agencies that signed a letter, imploring Polis to issue a statewide mask mandate and vaccine passports in indoor settings, the Denver Post reported. The letter was sent in mid-November to Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Director Jill Ryan.
In an email Friday, Angela Simental, Boulder County Public Health spokesperson, said: "BCPH, and its metro partners urged statewide action in response to the current COVID-19 surge on Nov. 15, to alleviate unprecedented challenges for Colorado's hospital system."
Joining in the Boulder march Saturday was protester Beth Byerlein.
Byerlein, a Boulder resident, said she supports people getting vaccinated if they want to.
"But, nobody should tell us what to do with our bodies," Byerlein said. "It's unconstitutional."
Not far from Byerlein stood, Don, of Loveland, who declined to provide his full name. He held a sign that read, "Coercion is not consent."
"I'm just down here to support the cause that we don't want to force something on someone," he said.
Other signs read "Let's go Brandon" — a coded insult to President Joe Biden, "Remedy worse than disease" and "Unmasked, unvaxxed, unafraid."
The protesters circled the blocks where Polis' condo is located, before heading west on Pearl Street. As they marched, brunch-goers looked up from their tables to watch them pass. Some driving along the streets honked in apparent support and several rolled down their windows to cheer on those marching.
Not all responses showed support for the message. A number of people turned their thumbs downward as the protesters passed. When a woman who was protesting went up to the family with their thumbs down, they yelled for her to get away. One man yelled, "Expletive) you! You're the enemy" and shook his butt at those marching by. Another mocked the protesters yelling, "Smallpox, yes!"
The protest against vaccine mandates was echoed in Longmont.
On the north side of the Boulder County Fairgrounds, a group of about 50 people gathered to protest. This year's Boulder County Farmers Markets Winter Market required people entering to be vaccinated against the virus.
On its website, the fairgrounds said, "Entry into the Exhibit Building will require you to provide proof of vaccination for anyone 12+ as per the State of Colorado's new public health mandate for indoor events of 500+ people."
Marianne Niehaus, a 64-year-old small business owner who runs a community group called Patriots Serving Patriots, helped lead the rally Saturday.
"I think the Boulder County Fairgrounds have made a decision that has taken our constitutional rights away," Niehaus said.
Niehaus said she frequents Boulder County Fairgrounds crafts and market shows and would typically go to the Winter Market. Niehaus said she is unvaccinated.
"We've already watched several people be turned away," Niehaus said.
She addressed the crowd of protesters Saturday with a speech she prepared.
"I believe the separation that has been made here today is something that none of us really voted for," Niehaus said. "None of us actually chose it. Someone else chose it for us using the knowledge they have."
Ginny Schuster, of Longmont, said she was there to protest Saturday because she was also concerned about her constitutional rights being taken away.
"It's our body, our choice as to whether we want to get jabbed or not," Schuster said. "I'm suspicious because they're paying people like a lottery ticket to get the jab out of our tax dollars."
When reached by the Daily Camera on Friday, Gov. Jared Polis' office declined to comment on the Saturday protest in Boulder. That same day, during a presentation to the legislative Joint Budget Committee, Polis said that "misinformation and targeted lies" have caused some to fall victim to misinformation campaigns, leading them to get ill and even die from the virus, the Denver Post reported.
With the first case of the omicron variant detected in Boulder County on Friday, Simental said Boulder County Public Health officials "strongly encourage" everyone 5 years and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine and for those 18 and up to get a booster shot.