A Parker man who created a Facebook group that encouraged people to honk airhorns and car horns outside the homes of public health officials deleted the group and the accompanying post that gave officials' home addresses from his personal page within 24 hours of posting.
Mark Hall, who is listed as the lead co-chair of the Parker Republicans on their website, posted on his personal profile Dec. 28 calling for people to make noise outside the homes of two Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials, giving their names and home addresses, a practice known as doxxing.
The Parker Republicans "are a group of like-minded conservatives" that holds regular breakfast meet-ups, according to their website.
The post was shared in a Facebook group, created the night of Dec. 28, called “Revolt Against Shutdowns, Big Box Holidays.” It is not clear exactly how much attention the post received, but two prominent elected officials from Douglas County were among those who joined the group.
The group and the post from Hall's personal profile were deleted shortly after 9News published an article on its website about the doxxing campaign.
Hall's Facebook post said the two public health officials were among those "putting thousands out of work, killing businesses."
"Take this information and make your own decisions," the post said after listing the home addresses of the officials. "Again, I'm not advocating for any violence or physical harm but let them know how you feel."
Hall also wrote: "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, a former Parker Town Council candidate, posted an apology statement at 3:30 Dec. 29. He later released an official statement:
"Last night, I created a personal Facebook post that I came to realize was simply wrong and I apologize for that incredible lapse in judgment and the information has been removed. People and small businesses right now are very passionate and concerned about what's happening with continued shutdowns and the actions I took were an attempt to express my frustration. But in hindsight, this was a very inappropriate decision. I truly want people to know my actions were very short sighted and to my friends, family, the employees of CDPHE and the Parker community as a whole, please accept my apology on this matter."
The Douglas County Republican Party issued a statement on Facebook Dec. 29, distancing itself from Hall and the social media post.
"The Douglas County Republican Party is aware of a recent, inappropriate posting of sensitive information by a Republican in Parker. We understand the individual has removed this information and posted a public apology about it.
"We want to highlight to the public that this person is not a member of the county party's central committee, and his organization is not affiliated with the Douglas County GOP. Additionally, no member of the Douglas County Central Committee, nor any Republican elected officials in the County was involved in making this post nor are these actions condoned. We do hope the individual understands the severity of their actions and learns from this situation."
Jennifer Ludwig, deputy director at Tri-County Health Department, said she was thankful the page was deleted before the names of any Tri-County staff were listed.
"It's very concerning and increases stress levels. Mostly it's disheartening,” Ludwig said. “We just emailed the entire staff for situational awareness and safety measures they need to continue to follow.”
As first reported by 9News, Parker Mayor Jeff Toborg confirmed he had joined the group, but said he did so without careful consideration and that he was not actively involved.
Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas also confirmed she joined the group.
"In my role as commissioner it's important for me to know what's going in the community, so when I received an invite to this group run by Mark Hall, I know Mark, so I accepted the invite to the group," Thomas told Colorado Community Media, adding that she had "not even seen the post" and "had nothing to do with it."
Thomas said she does not approve of doxxing.
"Posting (the officials') personal addresses is not acceptable," Thomas said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was not aware of the Facebook group until a 9News reporter reached out, Cocha Heyden, spokesperson for DCSO, said. After seeing the posts in question, she said it appeared nothing illegal had taken place.
"Nothing has been reported but if it is, we will deal with it,” she said.
Heyden said the legal definition for harassment is a fine line and it was difficult to say if this post was calling for such actions or not.
"If someone is calling in to report harassment we will obviously look into it," she said. "We will see if those actions committed reach harassment."
In the fall, Hall ran unsuccessfully for Parker Town Council, finishing ninth out of a field of 12 with 7.2% of the vote.
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