Protesters crash U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speech

Protestor Jesse Brucato, a Steamboat Springs resident, is escorted out after breaking out during protest at U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s speech Friday night during The Steamboat Institute’s Freedom Conference at the top of the Steamboat Ski Area.
Matt Stensland

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There were figurative fireworks and strong words from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s speech Friday at the top of the gondola at Steamboat Ski Area after two people broke out in protest and had to be escorted out.

At press time, Zinke was still speaking at the annual Freedom Conference hosted by The Steamboat Institute.

It appeared the protesters had tickets to the event with plans to create a scene.

Within minutes of the start of Zinke’s speech, Jesse Brucato stood up and started shouting something while raising a piece of paper.

Late Friday night, Brucato said he was holding a sign that said Corruption Cream Ale and he was shouting “Why do you care more about your own personal brewery with Halliburton than our public lands.

Zinke responded by asking Brucato to be considerate and polite.

An older member of the crowd sitting next to Brucato physically restrained him.

Brucato was escorted outside and then escorted off the property by Routt County Undersheriff Doug Scherar.

Brucato was not violent and told Scherar he would leave peacefully.

A second protester broke out in protest a few minutes later.

She could not be immediately identified.

Zinke raised his voice as she was removed.

“You know what?” he shouted. “You haven’t served and you don’t understand what energy is. I’d like to see your child fight for energy.”

The outbursts can be viewed at the video below at 4:25 and 9:05.

Zinke’s speech focused on the management of public lands.

“No one loves public land as much as I do,” Zinke said. “You can love it as much. You just can’t love it more than I do.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.