Jewish Colorado Governor Tears Up After GOP Leader Compares Stay-At-Home Order to Nazism

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis choked up as he rebuked a local Republican's suggestion that his stay-at-home order would lead to a "Gestapo-like mentality" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Polis said he was "offended by any comparison to Nazism" on Wednesday, noting that he was a Jewish American who lost family in the Holocaust, The Denver Post reported. The Colorado governor became the first Jewish person to be elected to the local post in 2018.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, a reporter asked Gov. Polis: "I'm seeing a lot of rebellion out here against your orders, which have been called tyrannical... being equated to Nazism. How do you react to that?"

"First of all, as a Jewish American who lost family in the Holocaust, I'm offended by any comparison to Nazism," Gov. Polis responded.

As he began to tear up, the governor added: "We act to save lives, the exact opposite of the slaughter of six million Jews and many gypsies and Catholics, and gays and lesbians, and Russians and so many others."

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told reporters he was offended by comparisons between his stay-at-home order and Nazism. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Addressing other local frustrations with the stay-at-home order, Polis said: "We know that these steps are difficult, and it's not a contest to see what you can get away with. It's a contest to see how well you can stay at home.

"By not staying at home, by having parties, by congregating, you're not sticking it to the government. You're not sticking it to Jared Polis. You're sticking it to yourself, because you're putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy."

Gov. Polis issued his rebuke of the comparison between his stay-at-home order and Nazism three weeks after 9 News first reported that the Colorado House Minority Leader, Patrick Neville (R), told The Peter Boyles Show that orders like that could lead to a "Gestapo-like mentality."

"That's what we have to rely on, the American spirit and the American people to get us through this, and not these panic orders and these shutdown orders and what's leading to a Gestapo-like mentality," Neville said.

Newsweek contacted Patrick Neville's office for comment and will update this article with any response.

The Colorado House Minority Leader reportedly told The Denver Post that he "should have said authoritarian, not Gestapo," but also declined to apologize for his remark.

Gov. Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order at the end of March along with several other states seeking to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. He later extended the length of the order to April 26.

According to Colorado's official COVID-19 website, the stay-at-home order could be further extended if necessary amid the pandemic.