'I see a war coming,' says militia leader with Colorado GOP ties
John Tiegen (center), organizer of the “Patriot Muster” rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park, shortly before the event began on Oct. 10, 2020. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

A prominent Colorado Republican activist on Tuesday urged fellow conservatives to reject political violence and extremism, even as he claimed that the country is under threat from communist tyranny and on a path towards “civil war.”

John Tiegen, a Marine veteran from Colorado Springs and founder of the United American Defense Force, made the comments on a “Giving Tuesday” livestream hosted by FEC United, the fringe activist group with which the UADF is affiliated.

Speaking to an audience of fellow conservatives, Tiegen acknowledged the support for extremist violence that exists among some on the right, and warned of the dangers of such views.

“We need to get rid of the extremist ideology, we really do,” Tiegen said. “For UADF, a lot of people want to go to civil war, they want to have conflict. You don’t want it.”

But Tiegen, who urged conservatives to set aside their “minor differences” and unite to oppose government overreach in schools and the economy, also predicted that violence will erupt if conservatives aren’t victorious.

“I see a war coming, if we don’t stand together,” Tiegen said. “And trust me, you don’t want to see it. A lot of veterans — I’ve seen it — there are some veterans that pray for it here in the U.S., which is stupid.”

The UADF, founded by Tiegen in the wake of nationwide 2020 protests over police violence, bills itself as a “humanitarian aid organization” with a “parallel mission” of armed defense. Tiegen regularly posted images of group members training and posing with firearms before his social media accounts were eventually suspended late last year.

Tiegen and the UADF organized the October 2020 “Patriot Muster” rally in downtown Denver, which turned deadly when a man was fatally shot by a security guard employed by a local news station.

FEC United was founded by far-right conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann, a former digital marketing executive from Douglas County who has been instrumental in pushing debunked claims relating to Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems and the integrity of the 2020 election. Oltmann is a defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Dominion employee.

Kristi Burton Brown, currently the chair of the Colorado Republican Party, served as FEC United’s president as recently as November 2020, according to testimony from Oltmann. Burton Brown was elected state GOP chair in March 2021.

The group has spread a wide variety of false and misleading information relating to the election, the COVID-19 pandemic, “critical race theory” in schools and more.

On Tuesday’s livestream, Tiegen and other right-wing activists celebrated the victories won last month by Republican candidates in local school board elections in Colorado and beyond, and delivered stark warnings about the threat posed by communism, which FEC United’s Stephanie Wheeler said was backed in the U.S. by “foreign entities” with “deep pockets.”

Tiegen urged conservatives who oppose measures like pandemic-related public health restrictions to “be a force to be reckoned with.”

“We are being forced into communism, forced into a tyrannical dictatorship,” he said. “It’s just going to get worse. … There has to be a line, there has to be a limit. I’ve already reached it. I’m not going no more.”

“This is a last stand that we’re kind of doing,” Tiegen added. “We have to — we took a lot back here in Colorado on the education side, so that’s a good start. But … you have to stand together if you truly want to fight back.”


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