Protesters crash U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speech in Steamboat Springs | CraigDailyPress.com

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

Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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

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 Friday, 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 began shouting something while raising a piece of paper. Zinke responded by asking the protester to be considerate and polite. An older member of the crowd sitting next to Brucato physically restrained him.

Brucato was escorted outside, then 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 a few minutes later. She could not be immediately identified.

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

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“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.”

Contact Matt Stensland at 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.