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Colorado Springs State Senator calls Denver East High students protesting recent violence, ‘rude and impertinent’

DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) -- Students at East High School have experienced the death of two of their classmates since mid-February. One was shot outside the school and later died at a hospital, and another - accused of shooting two faculty members - was found dead by suspected suicide. One of the injured staff members is still fighting for his life in the hospital.

In response to all of the recent violence, students marched to the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday to protest gun violence, the second time they've done so this year.

State Senator Larry Liston from Colorado Springs labeled some of those students as "rude and impertinent" teenagers.

A photo was Tweeted out Thursday showing students speaking with Liston in his office. The Tweet alleges that Liston was the only Republican willing to hear with the students. However, it was noted that he "doesn't like it much." He reportedly spent a half-hour with the students.

Liston responded to that Tweet, saying, "How would you feel if rude and impertinent 15/16 year olds barged into your office unannounced and berated you for an unfortunate situation that you had nothing to do with?"


"He was nasty to the kids because the kids came in to talk to him," Breeah Kinsella said. Kinsella accompanied her daughter and her friends who were protesting. "He accused us of barging into his office, which is not true.

Kinsella admits they didn't go through the proper channels, just showing up and knocking on Liston's door. But claims the kids were polite, as three of them walked into Liston's office at a time.

"This issue is so contentious that we walked into it defensive, and legislators are no different than us," she said.

But calling a bunch of teenagers that just experienced another shooting at their high school rude and impertinent crossed the line in her eyes.

"Young people today are being taught to speak their truth, and I'm happy to say that as a parent, I love teaching my daughter how to have her own truth and how to speak that loudly," Kinsella says. "What happens is, is that some generations do not see that as respectful."

Liston has since received backlash from the Tweet. Democrat Senator Julie Gonzales from Denver wrote, "At last week’s Waiting Periods #coleg hearing, @LarryListon10 interrogated East High students. When I interjected, one student came to Sen. Liston’s defense: “it’s okay. I can answer. I have gotten good at compartmentalizing my emotions.” But sure, it was students who were rude."


Fellow Democrat, former State Senator Kerry Donovan wrote in response to Liston, "Rude? Impertinent? They buried a classmate this week. Lost another to suicide. Waited all day to hear if their teachers were alive. And you’ll give a long speech, I’m sure, on the importance of everyone having a big gun. Sounds like you are the one who needs to grow up."


KRDO reached out to Liston Friday to ask him about his comments, and his conversations with the students. After multiple attempts, a staffer told KRDO that Liston was not available to comment.

This is not Liston's first comment on teenagers that has raised eyebrows. In 2008, Liston apologized on the House floor, after calling unwed teenage parents, “sluts” in a Republican caucus meeting.

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is the weekend evening anchor, and a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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