06/22/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Shock rocker Marilyn Manson, 31, took to the stage of Denver's Mile High Stadium on Thursday night with a piercing scream, despite months of protests by some of the local citizenry to prevent him from appearing. The group Citizens for Peace and Respect claimed that Manson's music encourages the kind of violent attitudes that led to the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. (Immediately after the massacre, Manson canceled a scheduled local-area performance. Thursday's gig was his first since then.) Fans and others, however, insisted that the First Amendment guaranteed Manson's right to appear. Stephen Cothren, 16, told Denver's Rocky Mountain News that he listens to Manson because the musician conveys an appealing anthem to individuality. "Be yourself," the high school student said during a Wednesday rally on the Capitol steps in support of the Manson concert. "It doesn't matter what people think, just be who you are." Jeff Vandenberg a youth pastor at the Faith Baptist Church and a leader of Citizens for Peace and Respect, told the Associated Press during the protest, "We had a lot of positive response, and people very willing to take our literature."