Teenage girls afraid to wear the hijab, students jeered for speaking their native languages, children called “dirty immigrants” and “ISIS lookalikes” on RTD buses.
These events unfolding in Denver in the wake of the election of Donald Trump led the Denver City Council to unanimously adopt a proclamation Monday on “standing together with Denver moving forward.”
“We as members of the Denver City Council pledge to work together and move the crucial dialogue forward that ensures all Denver citizens feel their voice is heard,” the proclamation reads. “We commit to evaluate our systems of government with an inclusive lens. Our communities will foster and ensure equity, social justice, and freedom from fear of persecution based on race, religious belief, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender, physical ability, or age. Specifically, we must work together to support our brothers and sisters in communities of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, refugees, and those of the Muslim and Jewish faiths who at times have been targeted in unjust ways.”
The proclamation was brought forward by Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, who called the events unfolding nationally and locally “unprecedented” in her 47 years.
“All I can say is that I’m humbled and honored to serve on a City Council that shares the values I hold near and dear,” she said.
Last week, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a video statement of support for the community in which he said Denver “has your back.”
Some activists have asked how these abstract statements of support square with city policies toward the homeless and lack of action around displacement, but the large crowd in council chambers greeted the proclamation with a standing ovation.
Councilman Paul Kashmann, who helped write the proclamation, read a letter from South High School Principal Jennifer Hanson that described harassment and fear that students at the school with a large refugee population are experiencing. The harassment has not come from fellow students, but from adults in the community who have yelled slurs at students on public buses. RTD has placed additional plainclothes security guards on bus routes used by students to counter the harassment.
Kashmann said the proclamation addresses issues that are happening now, already, before Trump has even taken office.
“This is not about philosophical statements about having someone’s back in case some imagined set of circumstances unfolds in the unforeseen future,” he said.
Councilman Paul Lopez quoted the English parliamentarian Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“I know that Denver is full of good men and good women, and we will not do nothing,” he said.
And he did not spare any judgment for the role of the president-elect in encouraging hate in the community.
“We have a man who is misogynistic, who is racist, who has taken us to a new low, who has taken the image of a bully and made it acceptable,” he said. “It is not acceptable. The behavior is not acceptable. The attitude is not acceptable.”
Here’s the full text of the proclamation:
WHEREAS, Denver has declared itself repeatedly as a city welcoming and inclusive of people of all races, colors, creeds, and national origin, marked clearly by then Mayor Wellington Webb’s 1998 Executive Order 116 which states, “The City and County of Denver is an ethnically and culturally pluralistic city. We cherish this diversity for enhancing the quality of life in our community. As Denver emerges as an international city in a global economy, we can anticipate that foreign born residents will continue to make Denver their home. We welcome all to share Denver’s warm hospitality. We must respect this diversity and assure that the human rights of our citizens are protected,” and that “…the City will not tolerate unlawful discrimination in any form, and that the City remains firmly committed to the delivery of services to all of its residents”; and
WHEREAS, Mayor Michael B. Hancock wrote on November 10, 2016 that, “In Denver, our priorities haven’t changed. We will remain focused on what matters – making Denver the best place in the nation to work, live and play. We will continue to tackle the key issues affecting the people of Denver, like transportation, affordable housing, homelessness, job creation and criminal justice reform. This election has been a long and challenging process for all of us. Now it’s time to move forward, together”; and
WHEREAS, the recent hotly contested national election has affected all of us in our Denver community in many different ways. We as members of the Denver City Council pledge to work together and move the crucial dialogue forward that ensures all Denver citizens feel their voice is heard. We commit to evaluate our systems of government with an inclusive lens. Our communities will foster and ensure equity, social justice, and freedom from fear of persecution based on race, religious belief, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender, physical ability, or age. Specifically, we must work together to support our brothers and sisters in communities of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, refugees, and those of the Muslim and Jewish faiths who at times have been targeted in unjust ways; and
WHEREAS, we members of the Denver City Council advocate for expanded community outreach, engagement and authentic work together to empower each Denver citizen to create a society which does not tolerate any act of racism or oppression toward another individual; and
WHEREAS, each Denver citizen has the responsibility to engage, learn, and debate different views and beliefs in a civil, robust manner. This responsibility includes understanding the stereotypes and biases that we all hold and that inclusivity work is never finished.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER:
Section 1. That the Council of the City and County of Denver hereby commits to participate in and help to expand inclusivity conversations and systems that are free of oppression.
Section 2. That the Clerk of the City and County of Denver shall affix the seal of the City and County of Denver to this proclamation and that a copy be transmitted to the City Council Central Staff Office to be hung in the reception area so that all that enter know our commitment to every individual who visits or calls our great city of Denver home.