Amber Timmons woke up Wednesday morning to find that her car parked on Humboldt Street was spray-painted with death threats, slurs, a swastiska and “Trump.”
She had previously written “love trumps hate” and “not my president” on the windows of her car, which was parked outside of her home.
The messages included “fag die he she” across the driver’s side and “die” along with a swastika on the back.
Having seen the graffiti, some neighbors left notes of support on her window.
“Like I said on the back, love trumps hate,” she said. “You don’t fight hate with hate. You fight it with love.”
She moved to the Cheesman Park neighborhood from Capitol Hill because she thought the area would be more welcoming to her as a trans woman.
“I try to tell people that because of the Trump thing, it’s all coming back,” she said. “It’s coming back hard.”
Denver police were at the scene this morning to investigate.
Update: Earlier this morning, we reported that the Black Lives Matter banner on the First Unitarian Society of Denver building had been vandalized for a third time. However, the church later informed us that there was no new vandalism. Rather, an effort to clean paint off the stone temporarily made the previous vandalism look worse.
When the sign and church were hit with paint the second time, on Nov. 2 this year, it was left up as a reminder that there is still a fight against racism. The first time it was vandalized was a year earlier, and that was cleaned up.
Glenn Barrows, congregational administrator at First Unitarian Society of Denver and designer of the Black Lives Matter Banner, said the beginnings of the cleanup process have indeed made it look like it was vandalized again, but it will soon be clean.
“The reason that we have pursued cleanup is now that we are a historic landmark, a lot of the exterior of the building is guided by regulations,” he said.
The church received its historic landmark designation in August of this year.
No one has ordered the church to clean up the paint, but Barrows said the building renovation team decided that leaving it on the stone wall throughout the winter would do more damage.
Barrows also said that they’re preparing to add a new banner alongside the Black Lives Matter banner. They’re still trying to decide between of handful of ideas for the message, but he said it will be “huge and defiant.”
Since he created the original banner for the First Unitarian Society of Denver, 30 churches around the country have adopted the design for their own signage.
The historic landmark designation could eventually require that the banners be taken off the exterior wall, but Barrows said they will find another prominent and permanent place to display them.
Barrows did not learn about Timmons’ vandalized car until he spoke with Denverite.
“We live in difficult times,” he said. “It’s our position at First Unitarian, has been for decades — we are an island of sanity in a somewhat insane world and we are here for anyone who is marginalized. It’s not just about the congregation, it’s about the community and about the world.”
“We will be here. We aren’t going anywhere. We will be here forever. Because we need to be.”
Update 3:30 p.m. Leslie Herod was just last week elected to represent Colorado House District 8, which includes Cheesman Park. In this climate of hate and fear, she will become the first African-American LGBTQ elected official in the state.
“It does shock me,” she said of the hate crime in her district. “The district overwhelmingly supported me in my race … and I will be the first African-American LGBT person to ever hold elected office in Colorado. Considering this community came out so strongly for me, knowing all my identities, it’s heartbreaking.
“Unfortunately this is not new for us, it’s just becoming more visible,” she added. “We all to some extent wake up with fear that we could be discriminated against, that we could be attacked for who were are … We know that that’s real, but that doesn’t keep it from hurting every time it happens.”
On Nov. 29, Herod will co-host a town hall meeting with District Attorney-elect Beth McCann to discuss “how we can support our neighbors in this new era” and possible legislation to address the issues.
The list of speakers hasn’t been finalized yet, but it will include representatives from the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, the ACLU, One Colorado and Colorado House Democratic leader Crisanta Duran. The meeting will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Presbyterian, 1719 E. 19th Ave.
Herod also said that the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus is working with Denver police on a “pretty aggressive agenda” to improve people’s trust in the department. Part of that involves sharing more data on profiling.
People have already reached out to offer support and assistance to Timmons, and that showing reaffirms Herod’s faith in the community.
“Our neighbors will come together and reject the vandalism and hate we’re seeing in our communities. This is a place where we don’t tolerate discrimination in any form, and we won’t,” she said. “While I’m really concerned, I know that we’re going to pull together.”
The vandalization of Timmons’ car is not an isolated incident.
The Little India in the Speer neighborhood was recently vandalized with the words “Hail Trump,” as was a woman’s home. The graffiti at Little India has since been washed off.
In Boulder County, Daily Camera reporter Alex Burness documented a wave of hate speech and aggression in the first 72 hours after Trump’s election.