Denver Urban Spectrum July 2020 - Aftermath: The Life and Death of George Floyd

Page 1

Volume 34 Number 4 July 2020


The life and death of George Floyd...3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 19, 20, 26


The reality of George Floyd is he could have been my son... Volume 34

Number 4

July 2020

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alfonzo Porter COLab INFORMED COMMUNITIES GRANT COORDINATOR Tanya Ishikawa PUBLISHER ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin COLUMNISTS Barry Overton FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charles Emmons Zilingo Nwuke Alfonzo Porter Thomas Holt Russell Jamil Shabazz ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris MARKETING AND ADVERTISING Lorenzo Middleton

He was a normal 46-year old African American male, plucked out of reality to be the new symbol of injustice. The world didn’t know, and he didn’t either that on that fateful day the life and death of George Floyd would start a movement – and as his 6-year old daughter Gianna proudly said, “My Daddy Changed the World.” Today, George Floyd is a household name, and for good reason. But the reality is it could have been my son. It could have been your son. It could have been the son of one of the mothers who participated in our recent video production, “I Have A Black Son.” The 30-second video portrays mothers of Black males who are afraid for their lives every day as they maneuver through an American society that still holds on to racism. While holding a picture of their sons, the 21 mothers proclaim their bonds to sons and grandsons. It is a mothers’ call for action to save Black sons’ lives while shining light on fear about police brutality toward African American men. The murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis sent shock waves throughout the world and especially into the hearts of mothers. Unnecessary tragedies where African Americans die as a result of hate crimes or police brutality have become so familiar, including the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, that people of all colors and backgrounds are starting to stand up and call for an end to the mortal violence. The video was created to remind the public of the loss to families and communities by these criminal actions, and encourage everyone to get educated and take action, such as registering to vote, voting, and urging lawmakers to hold police and murderers accountable. The video ends with calls to action as well as a cry for help: “We can’t breathe,” just like the words voiced by Floyd as he lay dying; calling for his Mother. Throughout history, women couldn’t breathe when their babies and husbands were taken away. Women couldn’t breathe when they were beaten and raped, and when they were sold into slavery. Today, women still can’t breathe. It’s been 400 years of oppression and painful experiences for African Americans, and it’s time for change. As mothers, we just want to share our message so that all of us but especially our children can breathe a little easier. The reality is nothing changes if nothing changes. Rosalind “Bee” Harris Publisher

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix PHOTOGRAPHER Lens of Ansar DISTRIBUTION Ed Lynch Lawrence A. James - Manager

This issue is dedicated to the life, memory and legacy of George Floyd, beginning with Emmett Till to Rayshard Brooks and the many others in between who lost their lives to the injustices of a system filled with hate crimes, racism and police brutality.

The video is available on Denver Urban Spectrum’s YouTube channel, the DUS Website, and Facebook,

Member The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2020 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303292-6543 or visit the Web site at

Editor’s note: The cover art by Denver artist Juliette Hemingway is available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit various social justice nonprofit organizations. For more information, and to purchase the poster, visit LETTERS TO THE EDITOR that the U.S. has not seen since the mid-20th Century. There is an epic realization that the horrid injustice shown in the George Floyd murder together with numerous other examples of violence against Black Americans, can no longer be tolerated anywhere in the U.S. It must end; and it must end now! Tolerance of police tactics that condone such brutality must be ended, everywhere. It is extremely disconcerting watching the violent behavior

Make Sure Black Lives Matters – Vote! Editor: Anyone who has known me for the past several decades can tell you that I have been deeply involved in civil rights and justice for people of color. I was an attorney for the NAACP for 10 years and have been closely involved with assisting Black and Latino families. The protests in reaction to the death of George Floyd that have rocked the world are such

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


by federal police and military in Washington, D.C. in response to protests in front of the White House solely to break up First Amendment protected protesters – all this mayhem to allow the President to walk to a church for a photo-op with a bible as a prop. At the highest level of the U.S. government, the message of the protesters has not been sufficiently strong enough for it to have the respect it deserves. Continued on page 30

The Whole World is Marching Never in modern world history has a calamity so beset the global population causing it unilaterally to focus our attention on a single issue as the COVID-19 virus. We may be hard pressed to find anything good stemming from this deadly pandemic that has insinuated itself among all the nations on the planet. We have been asked, and in many cases ordered, to remain sequestered at home. Surprisingly, a strange by-product began to emerge as people around the world watched in horror as a white policeman executed an unarmed black man on global television. During the Civil Rights Movement, some 60 years ago, the common refrain was, “the whole world is watching.” Today, in the wake of the brutalization and murder of George Floyd and other African Americans in the U.S., we have begun to bear witness to and hear a similar recitation, “the whole world is marching!” At any other time, the people of the world would likely immerse themselves in the throes of sports, vacations, bars, restaurants, clubs and all other forms of distraction from our daily realities. However, this vile, contemptable, loathsome act coupled with our inability to escape seized the attention of the international community and sparked transnational outrage. In an instant, the whole world saw with their own eyes what

Solidarity for African American Cause Goes Global By Alfonzo Porter that pain—and so the whole world is marching in solidarity with the struggle. AFRICA: They are marching for justice for African Americans throughout the continent. In Ghana, Liberia and Kenya, peaceful protests surrounded the U.S. Embassy in the capital cities of Accra, Monrovia and Nairobi. The Black Lives Matter movement in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos focused on police brutality in the U.S. as well as in Africa’s most populous country. Demonstrations have also continued in the nations of Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda. CENTRAL ASIA: In the former Soviet state of Kazakhstan, protesters march with signs that read “I can’t breathe.” Other protest broke out in several other cities throughout the nation. EAST ASIA: Peaceful protests in Hong Kong led protestors to the U.S. Consulate General’s Office demanding justice for George Floyd. In Japan marches and protestors galvanized support for African Americans in the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Chatan and Fukuoka. In South Korea organizers marched to the U.S. Embassy in support of African Americans in the capital city of Seoul. And in Taiwan, more than 100 protesters demonstrated in front of the American Institute against America’s human rights violations.

African Americans have been expressing for centuries. The barbaric, racist, violent systems of the U.S. that has continued to deny basic human dignity for African Americans by denigrating and devaluing lives could no longer be ignored. The anger and anguish felt around the world has been all too familiar for African Americans since arriving on these shores more than 400 years ago. The false notion that Blacks are inherently dangerous by those who have continually beat, bombed, raped, murdered and massacred Black people is laughable at best and repulsive and duplicitous at least. The vicious and inhumane treatment of African Americans, at the hands of those who feign civility, is now exposed to the world. And that has provoked outrage all over the world; leaving many to question why does this continue to happen in the U.S.? The fact that people of all backgrounds are now aligning themselves with the struggles in the alleged “home of the free,” has provided much needed validation of the lived experiences and fight for equality in America. Wrapped and swaddled in a cloth of nihilistic sensitivities with feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, lovelessness, nothingness and emptiness every single day. Now, citizens around the globe can feel

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


SOUTH ASIA: In India and Pakistan, protesters took to the streets for several days outside the American Center while holding depictions of George Floyd on posters. In Sri Lanka despite police having obtained a court injunction, citizens staged a peaceful march to the American Embassy in support for African American’s treatment in the U.S. They were joined by civil rights organizations and trade unions and political parties. SOUTHEAST ASIA: The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand where citizens have been engaged in decades-long protests against police brutality; citizens drew stark similarities between their experiences and that of African Americans in the wake of Floyd’s death at the hands of police. A parallel occurrence involving a student who died when a policeman step on his head causing his death. Members of the Philippine Congress even took a knee in support of Floyd during a policy session in solidarity with African Americans. Even members of the Thai royal family expressed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. WEST ASIA: Even throughout the Middle East, support for African Americans and the 400year plight has been strong and evident. In Israel, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Palestine, Lebanon and Turkey candlelight vigils and marches were organized to show and illustrate camaraderie with African Americans as the pictures of Floyd was broadcast globally.

EUROPE: Nearly every nation in Europe responded to the Floyd murder. In Austria, young demonstrators numbered more than 50,000 in the capital of Vienna. Similar scenes could be found in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, The Faroe Islands and Finland. Multiple cities throughout France including Paris, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Montpellier saw crowds as large as 20,000 taking to the streets to express, “I can’t breathe.” More than 100,000 protesters across Germany in over 40 cities across the nation’s 16 states called on the country to denounce police misconduct in support of African Americans. The demonstration continued in Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Across Great Britain, marches and peaceful protests broke out in

and Xalapa witnessed protestors express support of the African American cause in the U.S. CARIBBEAN: Hundreds took a knee and chanted for two hours in a peaceful display of support for Floyd and African Americans across Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, Guadeloupe, and Bermuda. Numbering in the thousand at points, the crowd chanted “No Justice, No Peace” in front of the U.S. Consulate. OCEANIA: Protestors in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji also took to the streets to voice their outrage at the treatment of George Floyd. Many laid flowers in front of the U.S. Embassy; although they were quickly removed by police. They used the Floyd incident to highlight their own concerns with law enforcement; particularly of the aboriginal peoples. SOUTH AMERICA: Marches throughout South America also placed a spotlight on police brutality. While George Floyd may have served as the spark, citizens in

the cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Manchester and New Castle. The protests were organized in support of “Black Lives Matter” and to acknowledge the racist brutality in the U.S. against its own citizens. NORTH AMERICA: In the U.S. all 50 states around the nation experienced peaceful, and sometimes, not so peaceful, protests in support of both George Floyd and the “Black Lives Matter” movement.The ensuing rage and violence in some cities notwithstanding, was an expression of the anger and frustration with the continued death of unarmed and largely innocent Black men at the hands of the police. Comparable scenes can still be witnessed in large, medium sized and small cities alike; as well as in towns and villages across the country. In Canada, marches in Toronto, Quebec and Ottawa have been staged in support of the struggle. In Mexico, the cities of Guadalajara, Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, Mexico City, Tijuana

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many South American nations have been forced to contend with the issues of police maltreatment. In Argentina a crowd marched to the American Chamber of Commerce. In Brazil, demonstrators protested in the name of a 14-year-old AfroBrazilian boy who died in similar circumstance while chanting, “I can’t breathe.” In Columbia and Ecuador, marches were staged for similar reason to highlight police abuses in the death of an AfroColumbian man. In most instances, those protesting around the world were demonstrating to address grievances a lot closer to home as it related to police abuses.The George Floyd murder placed the issue at center stage for all of us.What white Americans can no longer assert is the experiences with law enforcement is somehow a figment of imagination; an aberration. In the end, George Floyd’s 6year-old daughter, Gianna said it all, “Daddy changed the world.”.

New Director of Public Safety’s Vision for Denver By Zee Nwuke

America is currently

experiencing a dilemma not seen since the Civil Rights Movement. The death of George Floyd by police officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao has sparked mass protest across the world against police brutality and racism. Protesting, looting and rioting at this level has not been seen since the beating of Rodney King on March 3, 1991 in Los Angeles, California resulting in 63 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses and nearly $1 billion in financial losses. Protests from Floyd’s

very young age. In fact, Robinson was a police officer before reaching the legal age to carry a gun. He started at Xavier University in 2010 and just 10 years later he landed his current position where he hopes to create change for a better future. In spite of his busy schedule Denver Urban Spectrum caught up with Murphy to see what those changes might be. Denver Urban Spectrum: What are your three top priorities as the new Executive Director of Safety? Murphy Robinson: First and foremost is to implement criminal justice system transformation and to make sure we can implement policies and new practices within the Department of Public Safety that would adhere to what this community want when it comes to changing our criminal justice system. It is vital that I be one of the leaders and it is also vital that the community lead those efforts; a community led process is much more impactful than a Department of Public Safety administration led process. The second is we get us fiscally sound. We are in a downturn right now in the city because of COVID-19 and have lost record numbers of revenue to the city. It is my responsibility to make sure that the services we provide to the city can still be provided. I will have to make some really hard decisions on how we utilize that revenue, but also make sure we think outside the box of how we deliver services and what services we deliver. And thirdly would be community engagement. It is vital that the community not only see me just as the Public Safety Director, but they see me as an ally, as a Black man, as a Denverite and know that I take this job and my role very seriously. I want this community to be one that I am proud of for my daughter to live and grow up in. I want this community to thrive for every-

death have resulted in more than 11,000 people being arrested and abolition of police forces is being considered. Police brutality has been a concern in America for awhile now and seems to be getting worse. Denver’s newly appointed Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety Murphy Robinson plans to change this to ensure it isn’t repeated in Colorado. The safety of the City of Denver has been placed in his hands. Robinson’s journey has not been a long one, moving and maneuvering his way through the system from an impressive resume and experience at a

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


one, to include small businesses and Black and brown people who live in our city no matter what neighborhood. Community engagement is key for me. I plan on that throughout my career and hope to be that stakeholder our community can call on for systematic change. DUS: What steps do you believe are needed to address the issues of police and its relationship with communities of color, and in particular, Denver? MR: The first thing is to shut our mouths and open our ears. It is time to listen. We need to listen to our community to understand what is best for our community. I think we have actually implemented many, if not all, of our policies in the recent past, but I think what I would like to do is support our community in moving some of those things forward. Secondly, it is important that I establish an office that deals with the implementation of such policies. It is easy for me to say yeah, we are going to do this, but it’s another thing to actually do it. We have to have a set of people within my office who focuses on that implementation and who can continue after my career in Denver. The last thing that we need to do is make sure we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. It is vital to know there is a reason we have a police department and the police do not just respond to things that are easy to deal with. We must make sure that we aren’t going to put our community in a place where we look back and say it was a mistake. It’s important we redefine the police, but I don’t think we should get rid of them. DUS: In your opinion, what would the defunding of police (in Denver) mean to communities of color? MR: To me, defunding the police doesn’t mean getting rid of the police. It means how do we utilize some of the dollars

that are used in the police department for alternative response methods. I think that must have a thoughtful process around it. DUS: Do you support the cancellation of police contracts to provide school resource officers to school districts? MR: Yes. I do. It became a law and it is a school board decision to do that. We will make sure that the schools still have the appropriate responses they need, but because the school made the decision, I will support it. DUS: Is the issue of race a systematic problem in your estimation? MR: Yes. Race in our country has always been a problem because it is in the founding fabric of our country. When I am constantly reminded in my everyday life about, the color of my skin by everyday people that means we have a problem. The fact that my skin and the color of it have repercussions, whether positive or negative in my conversation, means we have a problem in our country. We have a huge issue, but I also think that we have been presented with an opportunity to help move the needle in on what race issues look like to America. We will never be able to delete the past or our history, but what we can do is define a new history for the next genera-

what brought us here? Why are black people so angry right now? If we can have a serious conversation about that, then we can move the needle because I think a lot of what new police officers don’t realize is that they are stepping into an arena that has nothing to do with them as an individual. It has everything to do with the system that’s been cast upon us as Americans. They need to understand what their role is and when they put on that uniform what it means to people. It doesn’t always mean they are going to be regarded with open arms saying ‘thank you, come save me.’ It could mean that the cop is here and they are going to try and hurt me. How do we change that? We change it by educating our police officers about what that means. That will then dictate how they approach those situations while keeping themselves safe. I also think it’s important to have venues where they can actually speak to people experiencing incarceration and really have them understand that whenever you write a ticket or put handcuffs on someone you are changing their life forever. It is vital that our officers really understand that that is a life changing action. DUS: Colorado just passed Senate Bill 217. Do you think it will help?

tion on what race means to them. That is my goal. DUS: As a Black man, have you ever personally experienced a negative encounter with police? And if so, what happened? MR: Yes, I have. In fact, I’ve had a number of negative encounters. Matter of fact, when I was a police officer in Cincinnati, I was pulled over about 17 times in my five years in Ohio. I would say four of them were in one night, within one hour, when I was picking up my twin sister from the airport. And the reason they pulled me over was a few of my college friends and I were going to pick up my sister and we were all Black. There was no other reason. When they came to my car they just said ‘what are you doing, where are you headed?’ That is not a probable cause to pull someone over. That is one of the light experiences. DUS: What recommendations would you make to the training programs? MR: First, I think we should really make sure that we are staying up on and implementing our bias training. We call it implicit bias, but we also need to talk about explicit bias. It is important we start having intimate conversations with the police department about race when training in our recruit classes. It’s important to have those conversations about why we are where we are at, and

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


MR: I certainly hope so, especially because it is law now. I think we have to try different mechanisms to move the needle and I think that as we implement it, we will understand if it will help or not. The good thing about laws is that they can always be changed. So, if it is not helping, we can move to have it changed. I really hope it’s a successful bill to help move the needle to how we do policing in the 21st century. DUS: Is there anything else you would like to add? MR: First, I appreciate you for taking the time to do this. I will say this, we are living in a time that a few of us have been chosen to lead and I am honored, privileged and humbled to lead us during this time in being able to move the needle and change history for what the 21st century policing can look like. I also encourage the community to become a part of the solution. Help me, help us move this needle. I ask the Black community to really step in at this moment. Don’t just protest. Don’t just demonstrate but come in and help the community thrive. That means whatever skill you have, use those skills to educate and help our young people. Help our young people to thrive in our society because that is truly the measure for what our society will look like in the future..

They Always Have

Police brutality is not new By Jamil Shabazz


n May 2, 1963, more than 1,000 students skipped classes for a march into downtown Birmingham, Alabama, to protest the unjust laws of segregation. As they approached the demonstration, Police Commissioner Bull Connor, directed the local police and fire departments to use force to halt the demonstration. Thank God there were cameras to capture the horrific scene. Savage images of children being blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, being clubbed by police officers, and being bitten by police dogs appeared on the evening news. The footage triggered outrage throughout the world. Fourteen months later on July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s torso and neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. For five minutes, Floyd begged and pleaded for a life that was rapidly fading away with each shallow breath. Thank God there were cameras to capture the horrific scene. On May 26, 2020, footage of Floyd’s execution became public and protests erupted in more than 2,000 U.S. cities. Just like the children in Birmingham, Floyd’s murder served as a catalyst for renewed scrutiny on police misconduct, police brutality, and lack of police accountability. One organization calling for change in police reform is

the #8CANTWAIT procedures. However, instant consumption and vertical distribution come at a cost. The only thing that goes viral faster on social media than good news is bad news. In less than one week, the #8CANTWAIT campaign came under scrutiny from multiple outlets for its use of questionable data collection and an underdeveloped approach to police reform. In response to the criticism on June 9, one of the Co-founders of Campaign Zero, Brittany Packnett resigned from the organization. That same day Campaign Zero data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe apologized for 8 Can’t Wait’s flawed rollout and on June 10, the 8 Can’t Wait campaign posted an apology on their site. One sentence stuck out to me: “We at Campaign Zero acknowledge that, even with the best of intentions, the #8CANTWAIT campaign unintentionally detracted from efforts of fellow organizers.” Intentions are meaningless, if the execution (or lack thereof) ends up with someone getting killed. Campaign Zero and #8CANTWAIT campaign has lost some credibility, but I believe they can overcome their missteps and continue on a righteous path. The poor execution of the #8CANTWAIT campaign is a prime example of a larger societal issue. As a society, we are getting terrifyingly close to creating movements for the purpose of notoriety, marketing and hashtags.

Campaign Zero, an American police reform campaign founded in 2015 by Brittany Packnett, Samuel Sinyangwe, DeRay Mckesson, and Johnetta Elzie. On June 3, 2020, the group launched the 8 Can’t Wait Police Reform Campaign – eight procedural rules that police departments can implement which would decrease police violence by 72 percent, according to data collected and vetted by Campaign Zero.

In the hashtag happy society in which we reside, hours after the campaign was announced the #8CANTWAIT was trending on social media. Within days, several cities responded by adopting all eight policies or making a commitment to review their policies to embrace

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


For hundreds of years, police violence and brutality has raged like a mighty river – flooding American soil with Black blood. Millions of people around the world watched in shock and disgust as George Floyd took his last breath. After watching that video, millions of people finally decided “Black Lives Matter.” Even though Africans have existed on this earth since before time started keeping count. Black people all over the globe have always been significant and important - despite the lies society tries to tell us. It is imperative that we do not allow performative hashtag(s) to be a substitute for the work that it is going to take to destroy systemic oppression, institutionalized racism, police brutality and economic inequality. Being Black and growing up in a world that ignores your humanity, you quickly realize that one cannot defeat racism, discrimination and oppression without demolishing the broken systems and institutions that allow them to operate. Through protesting, marching and numerous forms of nonviolent direct action, we have come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go. We have to continue to protect ourselves and our culture in every way from the brutes that continue to brutalize us. We should not have to keep dying on camera for them to decide we matter. Because our truth is selfevident; Black lives matter...They always have..

gone into the creation of this much needed program,” said Rollie Heath, chair of the Colorado State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education. “At a time when so many are concerned about the cost of college, the Bridge to the Bachelor’s Degree Program is a great opportunity for individuals who want to pursue a post-secondary education.” The demand is there. Over 80% of all community college students statewide are enrolled at a CCCS College, and approximately 19,000 CCCS students transfer annually to a four-year college or university. CCCS and partner universities are not only looking to boost transfer numbers, they are eager to see a significant increase in the number of students who complete their bachelor’s degree. “Colorado’s Master Plan for higher education calls for urgent action to increase credential attainment, lower costs,

Colorado Community College System Launches New Guaranteed Admission Program with Colorado Universities The Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program marks major effort to expand college pipeline, increase degree completion, at lower cost to students.

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) has announced the launch of a new, guaranteed admission program called the Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program. Under new agreements signed by CCCS and several Colorado universities, new, first-time CCCS students pursuing an associate degree will receive guaranteed admission and a more affordable, seamless pathway to a four-year university to achieve their bachelor’s degree. “Students are our mission, and during these challenging times it has never been more important for us to provide opportunities that allow our institutions to meet students where they are,” Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “Now may be time when the smart, strategic choice for many students is to stay closer to home. That is where our 13 colleges and 40 locations across Colorado come in.” The Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program reimagines the college journey for today’s student by conditionally admitting CCCS students to a partner university – without the need to take a college placement test – and strategically placing support systems where students need them most. Participating students will have the support they need to successfully complete both an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree, without having to re-take credits, take additional credits, or take on additional debt. Partner universities will collaborate with community colleges in joint academic counseling, streamline transfer processes through new

IT data systems, and engage early and often with students to better support their transition to the university. Some universities, like CU Denver, are doing even more by providing students that transfer to their institution guaranteed scholarships. “The University of Colorado Denver is thrilled to be a Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree partner, focused on the success of community college students as they build upon their educational journey,” said Dr. Linda Bowman, CU Denver interim vice provost and senior vice chancellor of student success. “Community college graduates excel at CU Denver and we know this partnership is key to not only to their future, but ours as well.” The program will also help the state meet its ambitious goals set forth by Colorado Governor Jared Polis in the recently adopted Roadmap to Containing College Costs & Making College Affordable, which, among other things, calls for strengthening transfer agreements and substantially increasing the number of students transferring and completing a bachelor’s degree. “We know that when Coloradans have access to affordable higher education they are able to thrive,” said Governor Polis. “We are living through a challenging time and the Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program will help open more doors for students. I commend CCCS and universities across the state for their work to provide students with additional opportunities to further their education, for creating a new model that will substantially lower the cost to complete a bachelor’s degree, and helping guarantee students’ chances of achieving upward social mobility.” “Our board is extremely proud of the work that has

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


and erase equity gaps – goals the Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program will help us achieve” said Dr. Angie Paccione, Colorado Department of Higher Education executive director. “The collaboration and commitment from our higher education institutions will provide transparent and supportive pathways for students to meet their educational goals and increase their opportunity to succeed.” Editor’s note: The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to more than 125,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 40 locations across Colorado. The open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE).

A Desperate Cry for Drastic Change By Thomas Holt Russell

On March 3, 1991, a white man named George Holiday shot a video of a man being beaten by a group of policemen. From his balcony in Los Angeles, he videoed Rodney King rolling on the ground while being kicked and hit with batons in the presence of 14 LAPD officers. The video was sent to the news, Los Angeles caught fire. But in the end, the four officers were acquitted by an all-white jury. Almost 30 years later, another video of police brutality surfaced when the life of George Floyd was ended by a well-placed knee on his neck.

This happened in front of dozens of witnesses and cameras in broad daylight. Black people let out a collective scream of pain and agony that has probably not been felt in decades. Not only have police relationships with the Black community failed to get better, but things also seemed to become decidedly worse. In the aftermath of this video, other atrocities by police against African Americans quickly followed. Out of the fog of anger, disappointment, and sadness, a new slogan surfaced that caused even more confusion and division: Defund the Police. I was one of the lucky ones. The first time I heard the term

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“Defund the Police,” a simple explanation came with it – The police department will not be disbanded. The money the police use that buys military-grade weapons and equipment will be put back into the neighborhoods the police serve. The money could help fund job training, education, businesses, etc. However, even after I listened to the explanation, I thought to myself, “Couldn’t they have come up with another slogan to use? Then, things became murkier. I quickly learned from other experts that Defund the Police, was precisely what it sounded like. Get rid of the police. Use the money in the neighborhood instead. The thought behind it is that the relationship between African Americas and the police is so bad, we are better off without them at all. Depending on who you listen to, it could be disbanding the police or not disbanding the police. The one thing both camps have in common is that they agree that taxpayers’ money has to be diverted to Black neighborhoods to make any substantial change in the policing system. The term was first talked about during the Ferguson unrest in 2014. But after the public murder of George Floyd by police and the information about the death of Breonna Taylor, and the outrage of after Rayshard Brooks was shot two times in the back while running from police in Atlanta, the slogan quickly gained momentum. The country is fighting for its life on three fronts at the same time. The pandemic has killed almost half a million people worldwide and 122,000 Americans have died from coronavirus as of this writing.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


The experts say we are only at the beginning of this pandemic. Economic woes are the direct result of shutting everything down during the pandemic. Some businesses will never recover, and unemployment is at an all-time high. Just when we thought this was the worst thing that could ever befall our great nation, an African American male is murdered by police in broad daylight. Only one of these problems by itself could have been the most devastating event since WWII. But by experiencing all of these events simultaneously, this country is now at a crossroad that threatens democracy in America. So far, I have not even mentioned Trump and the upcoming election. But I have the feeling things are not going to get better. The racial aspect of policing has been around for a very long time. According to Dr. Gary Potter, policing policy was based on the system in England. Colonists used an informal and communal system which was called a Watch. This communal system evolved into the Slave Patrol in southern states. Their job was to catch and return runaway slaves, discipline slaves, and to terrorize the slaves in any way possible. The relation between law enforcement and African Americans has never recovered from those earlier encounters. A study of what happened to Trayvon Martin proves that point: A Black, unarmed teen who did not commit any crime did not even have the right to protect himself, against an armed, self-described white vigilante. Today, many Black men, regardless of social standing or income, or religion, still cringe when they see those flashing red lights in their rearview mirror. That cringe has nothing to do with being caught for a crime, that cringe is because they know, regardless of the circumstances, that their life can end needlessly with any

encounter with the police. The wrong glance can even get your head bashed-in. Most Black men have a least one story about an encounter with the police that did not go very well. Regardless of where you stand on defunding the police, when you carefully study the history of policing Black people in America, it is easy to understand why such a radical idea has gained so much traction. MPD150 is a community advocacy group based in Minneapolis. Their reasoning is why send armed strangers with guns to a situation that may require healthcare workers, victim advocates social workers or

mental health providers. Instead of armed Warriors, Black neighborhoods need education, jobs, and comprehensive healthcare. City police budgets are sometimes astronomically high. Many neighborhoods suffer from poverty, homelessness, joblessness, and of course, crime. Many of these crimes are laws that seem to only affect poor people. People with money rarely get arrested for vagrancy, trespassing, or being chased from the area because they have no other place to stay. These same neighborhoods have poor schools, little healthcare, and high unemploy-

Independent Monitor to Investigate Denver Police Response to Protests By Michael Karlick, Colorado Politics The city’s Office of the Independent Monitor announced there will be an investigation into the Denver Police Department’s response to the racial justice protests. The office, which oversees the police and sheriff departments, was responding to the request of city council members, several of whom expressed concerns about the use of tear gas, less-than-lethal bullets and other unwarranted force against peaceful demonstrators and the media. “You have asked that we evaluate, among other things, the DPD’s use of physical force, chemical agents, riot gear, and surplus military equipment, as well as its handling of community complaints regarding alleged officer misconduct during the demonstrations,” wrote independent monitor Nicholas E. Mitchell. “We accept.” Mitchell cautioned that because the protests continued for so long, his investigators would need to review hundreds or thousands of hours of surveillance footage, amateur video, radio transmissions and testimony from officers and community members. “I assure you that our small staff will move expeditiously, and we have already drafted our first request for documents and information, which we will issue to the DPD shortly.” Councilman Chris Hinds, who suggested that the city should “look at those body cameras to see who did what,” approved of the news. “I’m looking forward to supporting the OIM in its process,” said Hinds, whose central Denver district witnessed firsthand the chaotic response to the demonstrations. “This is a critical review for Denver, and we want to make sure it’s thorough and complete. I’m also happy to hear that [the Department of] Public Safety has committed its support to the process.” The police department did not immediately return a request for comment. Four Denver residents have filed a lawsuit alleging that the police tactics during the protests violated their constitutional rights. In response, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the unrestrained use of chemical agents and projectiles on protesters.

ment. I do not think it is a bad idea to take some of the funds from the police to spend it on programs and organizations that can tackle some of the root causes of poverty. Even with all of the fantastical events taking place in the year 2020, and even with the energized antiracist organizations making their voice heard and the energy behind the movement, it may be unlikely that defunding the police will be a widespread phenomenon outside of a few experimental areas. However, I never in my wildest dreams would think that America would be in such a state of division. I never thought that our democracy would be on the verge of collapse because of all people, Donald Trump. In Minneapolis, the city council announced that they will disband the city’s police force. But even council members are unable to say what a community without

Editor’s note:This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. Denver Urban Spectrum joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public. Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


police would be like. Most reasonable people would agree that significant changes will have to be made. It is not a bad idea to reallocate spending as opposed to disbanding police altogether. This slogan seems to be born more out of anger and outrage as opposed to a well thought out plan. And it only leaves Trump followers something to translate for his followers. I dislike the slogan. I not only dislike the slogan for its ambiguity but also for the literal meaning that some are pushing. It just gives us another argument to traverse while on our way to the November election. But I have to admit, I understand why an idea like this is gaining so much momentum. And even if someone says that defunding the police is ridiculous; it is nowhere near as ridiculous as a man being murdered in public by the police, for an allegedly $20 infraction..

Ready On Day One Who we think should be Biden’s running mate Op-ed by Wellington E. and Wilma J. Webb


he Democratic nominee Joe Biden has suggested he will choose a woman as his running mate. We believe that woman should be former national security adviser Susan Rice, a woman of color. Let us share our rational for our choice. In our country’s history, we have often reached out to someone to

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lead us in a time of unprecedented unrest. Let us give you a few examples. In 1945, during the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals, President Truman appointed Associate Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson as chief prosecutor for the United States. Jackson worked at achieving a consensus among the Allies and was finally successful with an agreement between the American, British, French, and Soviet governments. At a time when the world was fractured, he helped build a coalition of trust and held the war criminals accountable for the atrocities. When America was at the brink of the Civil War in 1860, Republicans voted on the third ballot to choose a member of the U.S. Representatives, Abraham Lincoln, to be their nominee and he was the right man to lead the country during that divisive and groundbreaking time. Our country has been torn apart for generations over racism and other social justice issues. In 2020, the Democrats need a strong ticket that will address those issues head on instead of inciting more division. Susan Rice would be ready to go on day one. She served as the 24th U.S. National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017 and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. The U.S. Senate confirmed her as Ambassador by unanimous consent on January 22, 2009. Susan had a brilliant academic career, and as assistant Secretary of State was responsible for policy at the U.S. State Department for 48 African countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


She knows how the government works from the inside as an ambassador, as a diplomat and she knows how to interpret, promote, defend, and build coalitions. She served President Obama with briefings on important foreign issues, including working with intelligence agencies. Susan also has demonstrated the ability to communicate well to the media and the public. She understands fear for the black men in her life - her sons, brother and nephew - with any confrontation with police. As a former basketball point guard, she knows how to play the game of politics whether she’s speaking to a group of intellectuals or a faculty group or during a trash talking session on the basketball court. In order to beat Trump, the Democratic ticket must inspire voters. We need a vice president who can walk comfortably among the mighty and the common folk. And we need a leader who will recognize and learn from past missteps, including knowing the State Department should have done more on the Rwanda issue. She is a stronger public service because she acknowledges she’s not perfect. Susan has the ability and confidence to inspire a nation and has the background, experience, and analytical policy ability to do the job on day one. At age 55, she also brings a different perspective to Biden, age 77. She is young enough to run again for the office of president. Susan has worked with Joe Biden and both she and Biden bring one quality that Trump does not have, empathy. It is time for a woman of color to serve in this nation’s highest office. Together, Susan Rice and Joe Biden can work to address many social issues with a deep commitment to restore humanity and compassion to the White House. .


he late Dr. Vincent Harding, a Denver treasure and dear friend, often invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when speaking to the “beloved community.” Today, as I write to the beloved community of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO), I reach for his spirit along with other Black ancestors, such as Sojourner Truth. Truth was born into slavery, where her body was used as property for profit. After escaping with her infant daughter and then later using the court system to free her son from slavery, Truth became a leader of the abolitionist movement. At the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, where some asked that she not be allowed to speak, she asked the audience, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Our movements still leave women behind Among the cascade of pain, sadness, anger, and hurt that our communities feel today lies a difficult truth. 169 years later, movements for suffrage, marriage equality, feminism, reproductive rights, #MeToo, and woke women’s marches for justice continue to struggle with what it really means to respond “yes” to Sojourner Truth. During Pride Month, how many of us remember that LGBTQ+ rights movement was first ignited by trans women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera? When women’s outcomes for life itself are pre-determined by their background, what they look like, where they were born, or where they live, how they pray, or their abilities, our movements still leave many women behind. Equity is authentically shared power and voice. Without racial equity, there cannot be gender equity. COVID-19 ripped the veil off any illusions about the essential contributions women of color make to our workforce, and the disparities they face in spite of them. Women and people of color are our nurses, grocery

Ain’t I A Woman, Too? Without Racial Equity, There Cannot Be Gender Equity Lauren Casteel, President & CEO The Women’s Foundation of Colorado

workers, and teachers. Women of color make up the majority of service, retail, and hospitality workers who are vulnerable to a tentative economy. COVID-19 compounds the cumulative pain of centuries of oppression The trauma of COVID-19 only compounds the ongoing, cumulative pain of centuries of oppression. Black and Latinx women and men are more likely to die from complications, we are at greater risk of losing our homes, and our children are most likely to be hungry and least likely to have technology for online learning. COVID-19 unflinchingly exposed underlying statewide systemic disparities in health care, education, housing, access to food, transportation, and child care based on race, class, and yes, gender. To acknowledge these facts is not to deny that the pandemic has affected us all. It is to say that some Coloradans are more likely to lose their livelihoods or their lives simply because of who they are. It is to say Black Lives Matter – a movement founded by women.

Jordan Casteel, Serwaa and Aakohene, 2019, Oil on Canvas, 90 x 78”/228.6 x 198.12cm, ©Jordan Casteel - Courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York

I weep ancient tears I’ve stopped trying to hold back The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Abery, and Breonna Taylor add to a 400-year-old list of names of brutalized Black men and women. As a Black

woman with many privileges, I weep ancient tears that I’ve stopped trying to hold back. I am the mother of three beautiful, loving, and strong Black children, including two Black sons. My younger son labors in the grocery industry helping to ensure that Colorado families have food on their tables. He is proud to do his part. After a day of hard work, he could be arrested, even killed simply for driving home. As he envisioned his future, my older son considered joining the military or becoming a police officer, to serve and protect, justly and with integrity. His path led him to service as a commended flight rescue RN. He flies into Navajo communities where COVID-19 is unchecked due to a lack of running water and where indigenous women go missing – both stunning displays of the complex consequences of colonialism and white supremacy. My hopes and fears for my sons are ever present – along with my phone – as I work alongside you in this movement for gender equity. Even as that list grows longer with names we will never hear, my daughter, a painter, is celebrated for making us gaze at the humanity of men and women of color. Protesters march with cardboard signs insisting that Black Lives Matter just blocks from the Denver Art Museum and The New Museum in New York City where her canvases have done the same. Does her voice, her lived experience, her being – equally Black, equally woman – have an authentic place in this movement? I am a grandmother to four members of the next generation of children of color to inherit our history. I wonder what the future will look like for my Black and Navajo grandsons. Will my granddaughter’s Asian heritage

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


protect her from an unjust police encounter, or will her Blackness compound anti-Asian sentiment? What ceilings will this movement shatter for them, or will they be cut by the shards? Our Black sorrow is not new, but for many people these videos are a first glimpse into our heartbreak. “What can we do?” is too simple of a question. And simple answers are no match for systemic problems. I ask this beloved community instead, how can we peacefully, meaningfully, and effectively move forward? How do we use the trauma of today, of our history, to create a sustained better-yetto-come? To find ways to make a difference, please read the full version of this letter online: Your voice is needed through your vote and contacting lawmakers, plus your effort to listen and learn can help make an impact as well.

Hope is important, but it is not enough I hope for a better future, where simply waking in the morning is not a cause for fear because of the color of one’s skin. I hope for a better future for my grandchildren, for your family, for all Coloradans for generations to come. Hope is important, but it is not enough, neither is shame, guilt, or fear. I am proud in 2020 to stand beside you, to be a Black woman addressing a movement of women and men fired up and ready for change. But, if I were to ask, “Ain’t I a woman?” would you work to make sure that the resounding answer is “yes?” Onward. .

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CENTER FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN HEALTH Deidre Johnson CEO and Executive Director Grant Jones CAAH Founder

Mission,Vision,Values and History The Center for African American Health (CAA Health) has a long history as a trusted organization within metroDenver’s African American community. CAA Health works to promote the health and wellbeing of African Americans who have higher rates of illness, disability, and premature death from a variety of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Re-envisioned in 2005, CAA Health evolved from the health programming of the Metro Denver Black Church Initiative, which for more than a decade prior had collaborated with Black churches to offer health programs throughout the African American community, as well as programs for at-risk youth, academically struggling students, and ex-offenders. As a Family Resource Center, CAA Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of infants, seniors, and everyone in between by providing culturally sensitive health education and health promotion programs. Contribution to the Community CAA Health has several programs dedicated to the health of the community. Some examples of the expansive work the organization does include: •BeHeard Mile High – a community health data panel •Journey to Wellness – a diabetes prevention and lifestyle change program provided in

partnership with Tri-County Health Department •Strengthening Families Program – parent education classes for parents of children ages birth to five •Youth Civic Engagement – a leadership-building and empowerment program offered in partnership with YAASPA, helping Metro Denver African American high-school aged youth become active agents of social change •Aging Mastery Program – helping older adults build their own playbook for aging well through fun and innovative educational sessions •Health Insurance Literacy – providing insurance enrollment assistance and helping individuals understand and utilize their health coverage •Mental Health First Aid Classes – teaching youth and adults how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders (in partnership with Mental Health First Aid Colorado) •Check. Change. Control – blood pressure monitoring classes •Diabetes Self-Management Education – helping community members with diabetes selfmanagement (in partnership with Tri-County Health Department) •MAT/SUDS Treatment & Referral – Community Peer

Recovery Navigators - connecting community members with treatment referrals and outreach efforts •Life Skills & Job Readiness – supporting community members with life skills, jobs readiness training, and vocational counseling COVID’s Impact While COVID-19 has disrupted everyone’s lives, it has disproportionately impacted the African American community and highlighted the importance of the work CAA Health is doing to address health disparities. CAA Health’s efforts over the past few months have focused on meeting the critical needs of the community during this unprecedented time. In the early days of the pandemic, CAA Health partnered with Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) to deliver personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies to local food banks, churches, and shelters. As the reality of the financial hardship facing many members of the community became more apparent, CAA Health established a COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, through which they provided immediate financial support to individuals and families who were struggling to pay their bills. During the month of May, CAA Health distributed over $82,000 of emergency funds to more than 150 families (354 individuals). More recently, CAA Health has partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation and Denver Public Health to offer free COVID-19 testing directly in the community. The first testing event at the Center’s new home in the Holly Neighborhood on June 9, was a huge success with more than 120 individuals tested, of which 98% were African American. That event was followed by another successful testing opportunity on

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


June 23. CAA Health will continue to host free testing events throughout the summer. How Has the Center Persevered? CAA Health will continue addressing the immediate needs of African American community members, especially those related to COVID19 and the recent racial unrest. CAA Health stands ready to be a beacon of light in removing barriers to care and to help our community overcome the persistent inequalities we have faced. With the acquisition of their new property at 3350 Hudson Street, CAA Health’s dedication to our community remains steadfast despite COVID-19. CAA Health’s capital campaign would not be possible without the support of the major funders including DEDO, the City and County of Denver, Caring for Colorado Foundation, the Buell Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, SCL Health Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, and the Gates Family Foundation. Also, CAA Health extends a heartfelt thanks to the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), in partnership with Metro Denver Impact Facilities (MDIF) and FirstBank, for their support in helping the organization acquire their new facility.

How You Can Help? Many families in the community have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis and need emergency assistance funds. Please support them through this difficult time by contributing to CAA Health’s COVID19 Relief Fund. These funds will be distributed to members of the community to assist in paying housing, utility, prescription and grocery expenses. . Editor’s note: Donors interested in supporting can make contributions at


INNER CITY HEALTH CENTER Mission,Vision,Values and History Founded in 1983, Inner City Health Center (ICHC) is a Christ centered healthcare home for underserved individuals within the Metropolitan Denver Area. The Center is committed to core ideals of delivering access to high quality affordable medical, dental, and behavioral health care in an atmosphere of respect and dignity. After 25 years in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood, growth prompted ICHC’s move to another landmark location, 3800 York Street location in 2009. In October 2018, ICHC acquired a satellite clinic, Wheat Ridge Family Health Clinic. The center expresses their love for Jesus Christ and their compassion for those in need through their deep concern for patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Contribution to the Community As a primary comprehensive care provider, ICHC serves as the health care home to thousands of individuals throughout Metropolitan Denver. Their services are available to all ages and include prenatal, pediatric, adult (women and men specific), dental and mental health care. The Health Center is generally open Monday-Friday during the week without any

residency restrictions. The center also offers non-clinical engagement through Congregational Health Ministry, a community outreach program – which specializes in health screenings, education, and awareness. With a long history of connection and commitment to the community, ICHC participates in multiple local boards, efforts and initiatives particular to the African American community including but not limited to Eastside Unified, Denver Mayors African-American Commission, and Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance. COVID’s Impact Since the initial outbreak, ICHC was significantly impacted by the individual exposure and infection of both patients and staff members. While the center’s instances of exposure and infection were modest by comparison, the occurrences created alarm, anxiety and risks that required extensive mitigation. Needless to say, issues with exposure and infection dramatically impacted service delivery. The identification of a patient who tested positive for coronavirus necessitated the closure of the center’s Dental Clinic which only reopened last month. Guarding against the virus prompted enacting significant anti-infection control measures such as masks, triage, temperature screenings, revised sched-

Kraig Burleson Chief Executive Officer

uling, limited seating, installation of plexiglass partitions and the like. Exposures also meant the loss of staff time due to quarantines. The culmination of the first two challenges resulted in the substantial third challenge, reduced revenue. The pandemic instigated a precipitous drop in patient visits which in turn caused a correlating drop in revenue generation. So great was the loss in income, that ICHC had to make weighty budget adjustments to preserve operational viability. How is the Inner City Health Center Looking Ahead? Like the rest of the nation, ICHC looks forward to rebounding from months of angst, diverted attention, and depleted resources siphoned away by the coronavirus pandemic. However, as a community benefit organization, the center is also eager to see and actively participate in meaningful progress and advancement in the realm of social justice. The need for which has been amplified by recent protest and demonstrations compelled by the death of George Floyd. Based on the forecasted ongoing economic fallout of COVID-19, the number of those who are underserved (including the uninsured, veterans,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


and the underinsured) will continue to rise. This dire circumstance is also illuminating more pronounced need for Mental and Behavioral Health while the delivery of quality Prenatal and Pediatric care remains indispensable. Over the course of the next couple of years, ICHC endeavors to add prenatal, pediatric, and dental services at the satellite location, Wheat Ridge Family Health Clinic. Beyond that, ICHC is in the midst of a capital campaign to expand the main facility at 3800 York Street. Consequently, all these plans are being developed to increase the center’s capacity and serve more people with even greater quality and efficiencies.

How You Can Help? ICHC urges individuals and families to establish firm relationships with their personal primary care provider as well as schedule and keep regular medical and dental care appointments. As a private nonprofit organization, the center could not exist without the gracious financial generosity of individuals, churches, and corporations. . Editor’s note: For more information on how you can help visit


FAMILIES FORWARD RESOURCE CENTER Mission,Vision,Values and History Families Forward Resource Center (FFRC) is a full-service community-based organization that provides supportive services and programs in Northeast Denver and North Aurora since 1995. As one of 33 family resource centers in the state of Colorado and one of four in the Denver metro area under the Family Resource Center Association, FFRC operates as a collaborative organization. Its mission is to strengthen communities by strengthening families. In addition to family support services, FFRC also offers youth development and adult education programs that include parenting classes, fatherhood initiatives, and youth development and enrichment programs. Contribution to the Community One of FFRC’s biggest forms of support is the Healthy Babies Strong Families (HBSF) Program. HBSF is aimed to reduce health disparities in maternal/child health outcomes for African American and Black families in the Aurora/Denver metro area. As the only Colorado grantee for the national Healthy Start program, FFRC has seven years of success leading this federally funded program. Their team of family advocates is culturally responsive in meeting the needs of participants, while focusing on a family’s care experience through lactation support, mental health screening and connection to resources. In addition to direct support for mothers, the HBSF program also puts a lens on fathers and their involvement with their children through partner engagement and co-parenting opportunities. Program success is also derived from the Community Action Network, which consists of

Chanell Reed - Executive Director stakeholders in the local public health departments, municipalities, academia, healthcare organizations, community-based partners, and families that help inform and guide the work to eliminate infant and maternal mortality within the African American/Black communities. COVID’s Impact FFRC experienced challenges, as well as opportunities during the COVID epidemic. The organization continued to provide basic needs to families through FFRC’s food bank and diaper bank, as well as provided utility assistance to families. In addition, the COVID epidemic allowed the organization to reexamine programming, restructure operations, and build new partnerships. The center moved their programming to virtual platforms in order to continue serving families and helping build the resilience that is so needed at this time. Despite the hardships, the center received an influx of donations, and volunteerism increased due to the sheer generosity of the community.

How Has the Families Forward Resource Center’s Programming Changed?

cal and mental health and resilience, and policy and systemic advocacy. The goal is to build a network of men and fathers who are not only resilient, but also engaged and involved in building cohesiveness in family units and their lives. Unfortunately, due to the COVID outbreak, Kathy’s Kamp will not take place this summer. Since 1995, FFRC has hosted the summer youth camp for youth ages 5 to 14 years old. Kathy’s Kamp provides children with an enriching experience during the summer months, with an emphasis on physical activity and literacy retention mixed into a traditional summer camp experience. The campers represent the diversity of the community with more than 30 primary languages spoken, which was a positive focus in the organization’s receipt of the “Parents’ Choice Award” from Colorado Parent Magazine. FFRC is planning to expand Kathy’s Kamp programming year-round to include school breaks, which

Jamaa Health and Healing Chiropractic

As part of the Healthy Babies Strong Families Program, FFRC is strengthening its outreach in developing opportunities to support the organization’s Fatherhood Initiative. The goal of the Fatherhood Initiative is to further paternal involvement in a variety of ways, such as co Dr. Tracey Jones, D.C. parenting relationships, physiDenver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


the organization hopes will resume during fall 2020.

How You Can Help? FFRC relies on funders, donors, volunteers, and supporters in order to operate and fulfill their mission of creating strong families and strong communities. You may donate to FFRC through their website,, FFRC also supports students and recent graduates in their professional development. The organization hosts and mentors students from the University of Colorado School of Public Health and Metro State University of Denver Social Work majors in practicum and capstone projects. FFRC believes that raising and encouraging the next generation of public health professionals is part of their mission.. Editor’s note: If students are interested in hands-on experience to further their education and career, contact FFRC’s Executive Director Chanell Reed at •Chiropractic Care •Physical Therapy •Nutritional Council •Custom Orthotics •Car Accidents •Neck and Back Pain •Sports Injuries •Headaches & Migraines •Work Injuries •Pain & Numbness in Arms & Legs

3090 S. Jamaica Ct., Unit 306 Aurora, CO 80014 303-524-2994


HOPE CENTER Mission,Vision,Values and History Hope Center is a community-based agency dedicated to serving individuals in need of specialized educational or vocational services. These services are provided in order to develop maintain and enhance the functional levels of each enrollee. Their vision is to give all children and adults the opportunity to thrive with a quality education. Hope Center has served Northeast and East Denver for over 58 years and assists 80% Black, 10% Hispanic, and 10% white individuals from lower social economic backgrounds. They are a primary staple in the community with many partnerships, such as, the Center for African American Health, Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), Northeast Park Hill Collective Impact, National Black Child Development Institute and the Denver affiliate. Contribution to the Community Hope Center is an institution for early childhood education and adults with disabilities. Their primary services include a high-quality preschool program for 2 ½ to 5-year-olds, and a vocational program for the adults and parent/providers. Hope Center is a strong community advocate for equity and equality in the communities they serve and are known for

Gerie Grimes - President and CEO

their nationally recognized curriculum and learning experiences. In addition to general education, the center provides special needs preschool for children who have been identified with delays in areas of speech and behavior. They also support at-risk children who are bilingual or multicultural with an experiential and languagebased curriculum which is an especially useful care resource for working parents. One of their other more innovative programs is focused on providing a gifted program for preschool students ages 3 and 4 years and Kindergarteners. The Hope Center’s program is uniquely geared for inner city children of color. The vocational program for adults with disabilities provides supervision, employment, assessment, community activities, training and placement for adults with developmental disabilities. The President/CEO of Hope Center is actively involved with organizations surrounding housing, educa-

tion, youth development, job development and more. COVID’s Impact COVID-19 forced Hope Center to shut down from March 18 to June 15. As an essential service, the shutdown brought about many repercussions. The children being served through the pre-school program will most likely experience regression at a key time in their development even with the care and support of their parents. Hope Center has the advantage of seasoned professionals and has been an irreplaceable educational resource to the people of the community. Even the adults with developmental disabilities suffered when the Center’s doors closed due to the loss of funding for key services. Since the outbreak, Hope Center has relied on funders and the general public for financial support. How Has the Center Persevered? Hope Center is striving to stay financially viable during this pandemic and is doing everything they can to resume services and programs in a healthy safe environment. As an organization with strong programs featuring diversity and cultural traditions, Hope Center plans to take an even more active role in using their platform to provide insight and perspective regarding the history of racism and white privilege. A few key questions they plan to address are: What do these subjects look like to a preschooler? How does this envi-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


ronment impact adults with disabilities? How can their staff grow to be an even stronger resource for those they serve? How can their outreach be more effective through social media and other avenues of expression? Ultimately, Hope Center plans to continue serving their community and create a positive impact during this new wave of advocacy for communities of color.

How You Can Help? Hope Center’s work exists every day to make a change through education, community activism, serving on committees for affordable housing and making sure their workforce is well versed in understanding and advocating for justice and equality. As with others, financial support is a priority and very much needed. Hope Center has been managed by two Black leaders, George Brantley and Gerie Grimes, for 55 years. They have fought many battles as an institution including discrimination both obvious and subtle. Being a 58year-old institution does not come without ongoing support. They continually need contributions from funders, volunteers and those who wish to provide school supplies; cultural and artistic experiences; mentoring as with their Grandparent Program with Volunteers of America; community readers male mentoring; and healthy food projects. . Editor’s note: For more information on how you can help, visit

Be the Bridge Opening the lines of communication between police and the community

Op-ed by Barry Overton

My extensive background in law enforcement and the current protests impacting our communities due to the recent death of George Floyd compelled me to address this important issue and communities taking a stand that “enough is enough.” My perspective comes from the 26 years I served in law enforcement, and also from the 51 years I’ve been a Black man. My social media feed serves as a great example of how perspective affects the position that we take in regards to the contentious times that we currently live in. I’m connected with many different AfricanAmerican groups, as well as, many police organizations. It is interesting to me to see that when we are in groups of likeminded individuals, we tend to voice our feelings more openly. For instance, the police groups I am in, recognize and acknowledge the criminal acts of the officers in Minneapolis, but still take a pro-police stance when it comes to conversations about the number of unarmed black men killed in this country. The argument I often see in police groups is around why aren’t their black lives matter protest when it comes to black on black crime. In the minority Facebook groups I am connected to; I will see some post that insinuate that all or most police are racist. In both groups there is rational thinking as well as radical thinking.

I equate what I see on social media like two islands. On one island you have the opinions of one, and on the other island you have differing opinions. Each island is throwing stones or projecting missiles to the other island. The biggest problem I see is we are unable to hear what the other side has to say because of our own deafening voice. Therefore no one can be heard. I think from a rational standpoint, we would all agree that we must have police, but we also must have social justice and equity within the African American Community. So my biggest question is how do we achieve this? Like in any relationship, it all starts with communication. That communication leads to understanding and empathy. Again, because of my background, it gives me the ability to also understand the police and the job that they do and the reasoning behind certain actions. But I also have a greater understanding of my community, and our culture and why we respond in certain ways when it comes to police contact. I’m asking for meetings with the manager of safety, the chief of police, and the mayor of the City and County of Denver. I’ve already had previous meetings with a state representative in Colorado and had the opportunity to participate on the panel of town hall meetings with the African American community. The lines of communication between our political leaders and the heads of police departments must be opened with our community leaders and those who are looking for social change. What does change look like? I think first and foremost, we must have better training for police when it comes to the areas of cultural diversity. I can tell you as a police officer, I was required to train with my firearm and qualify with it on a quarterly basis. It was imperative that I was proficient with a

firearm. With that being said, in my 26 years of law enforcement, I never had to fire my firearm in the line of duty. But communicating with the public that I served was something I did every day. Yet this was a skillset I received once during training in a 21 year career with Denver PD. And it was not required to be a continuing education component, nor was I tested on my proficiency of communicating with the public. This is an area of needed change, but that change also goes for the community in having understanding of the job of a policeman, their duties, their responsibilities, and the things they do, they have a right to do and not do. They say to understand a man you must walk a mile in his shoes. Whether it’s a police officer or an African American male, I don’t think a mile is necessarily enough. To understand and have empathy, you not only must have that person’s experience, but also understand his feelings behind those experiences. As a police officer, you must understand the culture of the people that you serve, be it Black, Latino, LGBTQ. But being a citizen, it is also important that we know the policies and procedures and why the police respond in the ways they do. That knowledge provides for a better interaction between the police and a citizen. So while it’s important to understand the two different islands, the most important aspect is being a bridge between those islands. The good that has come from this tragedy are conversations happening from different races of people. And subsequently, many bridges are being built. The first step to making change is recognizing that change needs to be made. There are more eyes open to that fact now than ever before. We all must be the bridge and “be the change we want to see in the world.”.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


Making transmissions well since 1983.

SB20-217, The Law Enforcement Integrity and Accountability Act, Has Been Signed Into Law

Jared Polis speaking before the signing of SB20-217.

On Friday, June 19, Governor Jared Polis signed SB20-217, the Law Enforcement Integrity and Accountability Act, into law. This bill, sponsored by Representative Leslie Herod, Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Senator Rhonda Fields, increases transparency and accountability within Colorado Law Enforcement. “It is a historic day. Today we took a monumental step in ensuring integrity and accountability are embedded within Colorado Law Enforcement. “This will not bring back Elijah McClain or De’Von Bailey, but their deaths will not be in vain. We are one of the first states in the nation to pass a police reform package of this magnitude. It could not have happened without consistent demand from protesters and the community, or the tireless work of the families directly impacted by police brutality. “I’d like to thank my co-sponsors, Rep. Gonzales-Gutierrez, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Senator Fields. I’d also like to thank the bipartisan support of the General Assembly, and Governor Polis for responding to the call for justice. “Dr. King spoke of the fierce urgency of now. We can no longer wait to take action on the egregious injustices that exist in our society today. Change is coming,” said Rep Herod.

Colorado is the First State to see an Omnibus Policing Bill Become Reality after the Death of Floyd By Michael Karlick Colorado Politics The sweeping police accountability bill that the Colorado Senate passed nearly unanimously had its roots in a midAugust conversation between Mari Newman and Leslie Herod. Newman had just become the lawyer for the family of De’Von Bailey, a Black Colorado Springs teenager killed while running away from two officers on August. 3, 2019. “I told her about the fact that the Colorado statutes actually

were out of sync with what the United States Supreme Court held in Tennessee v. Garner, that they have to be an imminent threat,” Newman said, referring to the 1985 decision about the use of lethal force on a suspect. “That the person who’s fleeing is going to kill somebody or do serious harm just before an officer is permitted to use deadly force against them.” Herod, a Democratic state representative from Denver, went to high school in Colorado Springs and knew many former classmates who were susceptible to the same type of deadly encounter. “I talked to her immediately about how we could help at the state level,” Herod said. A few months later, she met with law

enforcement representatives. They told her that nothing statewide needed to change. Herod said she also began quietly meeting with officers who did not want to speak publicly, for fear of retaliation. While law enforcement knew that Herod was interested in legislation, “I didn’t have the ability to move it forward until the community outcry.” Meanwhile, Newman attended a meeting on October 3, 2019 between Gov. Jared Polis and Bailey’s family. One of the governor’s staff members suggested that a change in the law might be warranted. Newman went back to Herod and the two continued to compile ideas for a bill. Many of the concepts that ultimately made it into Senate Bill 217 were familiar, stemming from high-profile deaths of Black men in Colorado: rules governing body-worn cameras (Elijah McClain), a prohibition on chokeholds (Marvin Booker), the fleeing felon rule (Bailey). Newman happened to represent the families of all three victims. “They’re not randomly chosen. They’re based on very specific examples of how law enforcement officers have killed people in Colorado,” Newman said. Going into the legislative session, policing reform was on the minds of other lawmakers. “I started a conversation early this year about the potential of having interim committees,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, DPueblo. While Garcia did not explicitly promise to law enforcement that a police accountability committee was in store, other people remembered hearing about legislative interest in the topic, and Herod noted at the time that she would have availability to chair such a committee. By the time COVID-19 had forced a hiatus in mid-March, there was still no official bill. That changed the night of May 28, the first evening of protests at the state Capitol over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “We just got shot at. Capitol,” Herod tweeted. There were no

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


reported injuries from a series of shots near the protest, and police had no suspect. “That was the night I decided that I was going to push the bill forward,” she said. As her Democratic colleagues in the legislature checked in on her, she mentioned the idea for a bill. “I trust you,” was the message they gave her. The next day, the legislature suspended operations due to the protests. Herod talked with members of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus about the ideas that she and Newman had compiled. “She suggested getting the Latinx caucus involved,” said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, who recommended that Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, DDenver, be the other House sponsor. Herod confirmed that having sponsorship from both caucuses was intentional. Melton at the time was working on his own bill to allow the attorney general to bring civil suits against agencies that exhibited patterns or practices of denying people their rights. That provision ended up in SB217. Melton felt that his idea, plus Herod’s, would have likely passed on their own if the COVID-19 disruption had not occurred. Herod talked to Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office. She did not speak to Polis or Denver Mayor Michael Hancock initially, but called Hancock a day or two before the bill’s introduction to give him a heads up. His spokeswoman said he had looked forward to reading it. In part due to the timing of the legislative session, which the state Supreme Court ruled could be paused and resumed due to the pandemic; Colorado was the first state to see an omnibus policing bill after the death of Floyd. Most of the provisions were cobbled together from drafts of previous bills in past sessions that were left unresolved. The multifaceted nature of the bill “does make the conversation harder, but we’re still willing to do that work,” said

one person familiar with SB217. Even as worldwide focus turned to policing in the United States, there were mixed feelings about the likelihood of passage. “If the protests had only been three or four days, we probably wouldn’t have seen a bill,” said Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta. “Maybe a blue-ribbon commission to address police violence, but the longer the protests has continued it became inevitable there would be some sort of bill.” “No, nothing is ever certain,” countered Denise Maes, public policy director for the ACLU of Colorado, who worked on the bill. Some legislators, all Republicans, told her that the proposal was too bold, too antilaw enforcement. On June 1, four days after the first protest, Herod sent a draft of the bill to law enforcement and other interested parties. A virtual call took place the next afternoon with between 30 and 50 people, plus Herod, GonzalesGutierrez, and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “I don’t recall us going through a litany of ‘this is problematic, that is problematic.’ That is not the kind of meeting that it was,” said Ron Sloan of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. “I definitely think that they were willing to compromise,” said Tristan Gorman, a lobbyist for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, referring to the attitudes of law enforcement. “What I kept hearing over and over again when we had to speak about specific language was, ‘We just want to get this right.’” Herod asked for the support of her Democratic House colleagues, all of whom cosponsored the bill. “We will support what the Black Caucus wants to move forward with,” she heard from them. On the Senate side, Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, approached individual senators asking them to cosponsor. Multiple Democratic senators said they were unsurprised when every member of their caucus also said yes.

On the other hand, some Republican members said they were not consulted. “The sponsors never reached out to me prior to introduction,” Soper said. Earlier in the session, he had introduced a bill to eliminate qualified immunity and good faith defenses for public employees involved in civil lawsuits. SB217 revived that provision for peace officers. “They didn’t reach out to me, who has 30 years of law enforcement,” said Sen. John Cooke, RGreeley, a former Weld County sheriff. He said he saw multiple drafts prior to the June 3 introduction. “Punishing officers if there’s a malfunction on the body cam? That has never been talked about before.” Cooke said that the Democratic sponsors never apologized for excluding him, but legitimately attempted to ameliorate Republicans’ concerns through amendments. He would end up voting for the bill. One person involved in the SB217’s deliberations observed that while it would be inaccurate to say that law enforcement and local governments were disinclined to compromise on police accountability in the past, “this time around, it is a different discussion.” Rep. Colin Larson, RLittleton, noticed that after the Senate’s amendments, he ceased receiving emailed concerns from law enforcement about the modified version. “Most of the feedback references the provisions for the introduced bill,” he said. For Herod, she felt that police accountability would not have been a topic of legislation during this atypical session if not for the sustained protests at the Capitol. “I do not believe that we would have had the momentum and the yes votes to move forward” in the absence of that pressure, she said. . Editor’s note: This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. Denver Urban Spectrum joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public. Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


Audit: Denver Needs to Do Better for Minority- and WomenOwned Businesses Denver needs to do more to meet goals to support minorityand women-owned businesses and disadvantaged businesses, according to a new audit from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, and audit firm BerryDunn. “We need to fix our system to support the small businesses in our community who have been failed for generations,” Auditor O’Brien said. Auditor O’Brien contracted with BerryDunn to perform this audit of Denver’s Minority/ Women and/or Disadvantaged Business Program in the Division of Small Business Opportunity. The audit found 34% of contracts during the twoyear period studied in the audit did not meet the program’s goals, and there were no consequences for the contractors. The Division of Small Business Opportunity is part of Denver Economic Development & Opportunity, which has recently made significant changes to its organization. The division certifies businesses for the program, sets goals for minority- and women-owned business participation on city projects, and monitors those goals throughout the project. “We found some serious gaps in the program, but now is the perfect time to fix the prob-

lem,” Auditor O’Brien said. “We have an opportunity right now to do better, and I hope city leaders take the findings in this audit to heart.” Certification is the first step for participating in the program as a minority- or womenowned business or a disadvantaged business. Businesses must get certified every three years and sign an affidavit every year stating there has been no change to any information affecting their eligibility. Prime contractors can meet their assigned goals on city projects by either making subcontracting commitments with certified subcontractors in their proposals, using letters of intent, or by submitting waivers that show they made a goodfaith effort to fulfill the goals but could not do so. The Division of Small Business Opportunity has sanctioning authority if a contractor fails to comply with program goals, but the division does not use that authority. Over time, failing to sanction noncompliant businesses will signal to some businesses that it’s acceptable to fail to meet project goals. As a result, there is no pressure to ensure the city supports diversity and equity on city projects. Commitment to program requirements may

help some businesses win contracts over others because the city has in some cases prioritized equity goals over other factors such as lowest price. By not enforcing compliance, the city loses the benefit of achieving these program goals and also loses the benefit of using a more price-competitive procurement process. “The intent of this ordinance to support minority- and women-owned or disadvantaged businesses was good,” Auditor O’Brien said. “However, the city cannot now fail to follow through on the law by letting businesses operate in noncompliance.” The audit firm also found the division did not effectively monitor contractors’ compliance with project goals. For example, there is a risk that prime contractors might violate the ordinance by failing to use the certified contractors listed on a letter of intent and the division might miss this failure due to a lack of monitoring. The division is supposed to work with companies if it appears they might miss program goals on a project. However, staff is assigned more than 400 contracts per person, and it is impossible for each staff member to follow up with every business. In addition, the audit found the division needs better skills with existing technology and additional technology solutions to facilitate monitoring compliance with project goals. Another weakness that could lead to a failure to support

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


diverse small businesses is a gap created by inconsistent and long processing times for certification or recertification. The Division of Small Business Opportunity does not have clear processes or response times for processing and renewing certifications. The audit firm found all four denied applications it reviewed took more than six months for the applicant to receive a response from the division. Delays in certification could keep qualified businesses from being able to submit a bid for a city project. Delays in recertification could lead to extensions for contractors and subcontractors. The division issued 254 extensions in the two-year period of this audit. If a contractor receives an extension, the business could submit a bid as a certified organization without actually meeting the criteria, and then it could continue to operate without meeting the diversity goals for the entire period of the contract. “We need to do everything we can to make sure our efforts are truly serving those who need the support in our community,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Right now, the city is leaving gaps in the process that unqualified businesses could take advantage of — to the detriment of minority- and womenowned businesses.” The high 34% noncompliance rate on city projects could be attributed to gaps in documentation of good-faith efforts, failure to count contractors toward goals, and gaps in policies and procedures. The Division of Small Business Opportunity says it is already making changes and is working on updates to the ordinance. Also this month, Auditor O’Brien released an audit of the Denver Public Library’s financial processes.. Editor’s note: For more information about the Auditor and recent audits, visit

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Ground Rules Must See............llll It’s Worth A Look.....lll See At Your Own Risk.ll Don’t Bother.....................l

Editor’s note: Samantha OfolePrince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Laurence Washington is the creator of Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter

Da 5 Bloods lll By Laurence Washington


wouldn’t be surprised if Delroy Lindo receives an Oscar nomination for his chilling portrayal of a high-strung Vietnam vet on the edge in Spike Lee’s post-war drama, Da 5 Bloods. Lindo plays Paul, who is accompanied by his estranged son David (Jonathan Majors), along with three other veterans who travel back to Vietnam some 40 years after the war to search for the remains of their squad leader Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), and a cache of missing CIA gold they buried during the conflict. Lee follows a clichéd riddled Hollywood script that dictates whenever a close group of friends search for a buried treasure, treachery and greed will eventually overcome them.

That plot device is inescapable in these types of In Search of Films for the sake of moving the story along, and to add some tension to the storyline. However, if you expect Lee to follow the footsteps of those ‘80s Rambo and Chuck Norris films, you’ll be disappointed. In fact, there’s even a scene of dialogue in which the group are poking fun at those “This Time We Win” films.

Freda Payne and other artist from that period. Lee also does something unique not found in this modern era of special effects and CGI. He doesn’t change the actor’s present day appearances in flashbacks. Surprisingly, it’s not intrusive or jarring, a bold move that totally works. Mirroring today’s social issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement, Da 5

Instead of seeing how many things the veterans can blow up, Lee punctuates his story with overtones of race, brotherhood and the effects of the Vietnam War toward Black soldiers, punctuated by the Vietnamese attitudes toward returning American soldiers. Da 5 Bloods, has Spike Lee’s signature squirm factor and political in-your-face commentary on the black experience – his filmmaking hallmark. Lee does not disappoint using grainy news clips of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King to give context to Black men fighting a war in Southeast Asia, when they don’t have civil rights at home. Although Da 5 Bloods happens present day, it is underscored by a ‘70s soundtrack featuring: Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, Curtis Mayfield,

Bloods is a poignant film about Black soldiers returning to Vietnam and the social unrest that fills the streets today. . Editor’s note: Da 5 Bloods is currently streaming on Netflix. The original motion picture soundtrack is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Alexis Chikaeze: Miss Juneteenth shines a light on Black culture and Black history By Samantha OfolePrince/Photos Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment For Alexis Chikaeze, growing up with Nigerian parents, there were only three career options open to her. “A lot of Nigerian households know the options we are usually given is to become a

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


doctor, a lawyer or a disgrace,” says the 18-year-old who makes her acting debut in the historical drama Miss Juneteenth. “And although acting was always in the back of my head, I never thought I would completely act on it,” continues the actress who ran track at school and also considered becoming a professional athlete. In February 2019, things changed for Chikaeze. A track and field injury left her questioning her career options and she started pursuing acting. In May, she signed with an agent, snagged an audition a week later and landed the audacious role starring alongside Nicole Beharie and Kendrick Sampson in the movie Miss Juneteenth. “It took a bit of convincing for my dad, but my mom was pretty open to the idea and as time went on my parents became fully supportive, which I am very thankful for. I just had to go in with the mindset that you have to prove to them that this is where your passion is,” shares Chikaeze who will be attending Howard University in the fall to study theater and arts. A film which highlights a Black pageant in Texas, she plays Nicole Behaire’s 14-year old rebellious daughter, Kai Marie Jones, who is forced to take part in the annual Miss Juneteenth pageant. It’s a scholarship competition named for the day slavery was finally abolished in Texas, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. A former beauty queen, Turquoise Jones (Behaire), was once crowned Miss Juneteenth, but never reaped the benefits the title promised. Now a struggling single mother working two jobs, she doesn’t want her daughter repeating the same mistakes in life that she made and knows participating in the competition will open doors for Kai.


It’s Time for Action and Time for Equity for All

(L - R) Nicole Beharie as Turquoise and Alexis Chikaeze as Kai

“In the film, it’s actually a reverse as I have done three pageants in the past and knew the basics. I am a big fan of pageants as it built my confidence,” says Chikaeze who admits she wasn’t initially familiar with the Juneteenth holiday, which is now celebrated in most major cities across the United States. “With my background being Nigerian, I didn’t know about Juneteenth. I have heard it here and there, but I really didn’t know about it and it wasn’t something I learned about it in school, but I took the time to learn what it was, that it started in Texas and this year is the 155th anniversary.” Filmed in Texas and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, who drew inspiration from the pageants she watched as a young girl, the film is an uplifting one that celebrates Black culture, Back beauty and Black excellence. A winner of the Lone Star Award for Best Texan Film at the SXSW Film Festival, Miss Juneteenth premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and it was a proud moment for the young actress who took her mother to the movie premiere. “She was bawling her eyes out the entire time. I knew it was a special moment for her because my parents grew up in Nigeria and didn’t grow up

This past month, Colorado and our nation have seen brave protestors standing up to fight back against the systemic racism that pervades every aspect of our society but was especially laid bare in the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and too many others. We’ve already seen some reforms start to be implemented in response to this outcry for justice, but it’s clear we have far more work ahead of us. This moment in history has revealed the power of people committed to justice in every form but also the long and treacherous road ahead.

with everything and it made me cry seeing how emotional and how proud she was.” Citing John Boyega, Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o as some of her favorite actors and “Insecure” and Ava DuVernay‘s “Queen Sugar” as her top shows, Chikaeze has set her sights on an acting career which she hopes will take off. “Lupita speaks clearly about what she believes in and John Boyega, who is also Nigerian, stands up for what is right. I love the real-life awkwardness how “Insecure” and “Queen Sugar” talks about real life issues, like racism and things that are relevant and prevalent in the U.S. today. The projects I want to be in are things that make a difference and bring awareness to certain situations. Making this movie was a bit of an educational process and the most important part, especially in light of what is going on right now, is that it shines a light on Black culture and Black history and commemorates such an important holiday that is Juneteenth. We are important and our lives matter and I am hoping that it will make people read up on the holiday and read up on Black culture and Black history.”. Editor’s note: Miss Juneteenth debuted on Friday June 19 on ondemand. To view the trailer visit,

Black Lives Matter. And it’s long past time for our country to start acting like it. In recent weeks, I’ve taken some time to listen to and reflect on the role I can play in this movement as a father, a community member, a white man who recognizes my privilege, and someone who hopes to serve our great state in the United States Senate. My campaign recently announced our Equity for All platform – a plan developed in conversation with people of color about how we can address the systematic inequalities plaguing our nation in five key areas: universal access to health care, closing economic gaps, securing legal equality across racial divides, expanding environmental justice, and protecting democratic inclusion. Though we clearly must reform the police, we also must tackle the underlying issues that lead to Black patients being more likely to die of COVID-19, Black workers earning less than their white counterparts, Black families living in areas with dirty air and water, and Black voters facing voter suppression to prevent their voices from being heard in our democracy. Whether in health care, the economy, the legal system, the environment, or our democracy, greater equity is not optional — it is required. We have a moral imperative to do far better than we ever have before, and I am committed to being a fierce advocate in this fight. Since our country’s founding, commitment to equality and justice has remained aspirational — grounded more in delusion than reality. Today our public representatives are met with a moral imperative to do better. Unlike Senator Gardner who has failed to take meaningful action during countless attacks on Black and LGBTQ Americans, I pledge to listen and advocate for social justice. My Equity for All Platform and LGBTQ Equality Agenda are only the beginning. Colorado proves time and time again that we can be a leader of change. While other public leaders and the Washington establishment offer empty prayers and promises, I am committed to being an independent voice for Colorado and a fervent force of progress.

You can read my Equity for All platform and plan for LGBTQ equality at

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


Colorado Fire Chief Resigns After Social Media Comment About George Floyd By Liz Henderson, The Gazette and Michael Karlick, Colorado Politics

The fire chief of a small Colorado town has resigned after posting a comment on Facebook saying he would turn a fire hose on George Floyd demonstrators in Denver — the latest in a series of career-damaging blunders amid calls to stamp out racism in the U.S. Lyons Fire Chief JJ Hoffman quit Tuesday over his comment last month in response to someone else’s Facebook post that said Denver police should “wash all this human trash into the gutter.” Hoffman responded, “Ha ha, If I was down there I definitely would open up our high pressure bumper turret and have some fun,” in what critics called a dark reminder of reprisals against Black protesters during the civil rights movement a generation ago. Colorado Springs residents call for police accountability committee, shifting funds away from police Hoffman’s departure comes amid increasing scrutiny over how race is discussed in public, leading to high-profile resignations and firings in Colorado and beyond — a measure of rapidly changing standards in the wake of Floyd’s videotaped killing. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. What prosecutors later called a murder prompted protests across

the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice. Hoffman apologized for the comment. “I am not trying to belittle history. I am upset that the protesting in Denver turned into riots,” he wrote. He pointed out the original post was not public and that ever since a screenshot of the post had circulated, people came to his page “looking for a fight.” “While my remark was made in jest, and was meant to refer to the rioters whose actions followed the peaceful daytime protests, it was brought to my attention by several community members that my remark was insensitive, particularly given the historical context of the use of water cannons to break up civil rights demonstrations,” Hoffman said. Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Singer of Longmont, who represents Lyons, said Hoffman’s apology was not enough, and that he had lost credibility and the public’s trust. Singer asked the NAACP to investigate, which organization officials said has begun. ”I was hearing from constituents who were very upset that there wasn’t more serious corrective action and accountability from the fire department on the actions of the fire chief,” Singer said Wednesday. ”I think it’s important when public officials have made racist statements, that other public officials hold them publicly accountable.” The district’s Board of Directors in response said that it would formally reprimand the chief, but that they still had

confidence in him. On Tuesday (June 9), Hoffman resigned. “A person with such cavalier disregard to the facts of history — a history of fire hoses and police dogs used to deter righteous, youthful protesters in the ’60s civil rights movement — does not deserve to serve in a public position,” said Rosemary Lytle, president of NAACP Colorado, Wyoming, Montana State Conference. Singer said Hoffman expressed remorse over the weekend, telling Singer “this isn’t who I am; I wasn’t raised this way.’” Efforts to reach Hoffman [on Wednesday] were unsuccessful. ”My only hope is that the conversation can still take place,” Singer said. “The issue of racism in our public officials hasn’t ended yet with his resignation. I just hope this isn’t a story of caseclosed; I hope this is a story of ‘How do we grow from here?’ This has got to be a teaching and healing experience.” Before Hoffman resigned, Lyons Fire Fund President Kerry Matre also resigned and said it was because of Hoffman’s social media post. “I feel the comment by JJ Hoffman regarding the usage of the fire department’s high-pressure bumper turret against people for fun does not serve the best interest of the community, especially given his position of authority in the community, even if made in jest,” Matre said. Last week, the Denver Police Department fired an officer for his social media comments — in that case, an Instagram post of himself and other officers with the caption “Let’s start a riot.” The officer, Thomas McClay, shared the photo on the fourth consecutive night of

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


violent protests in Denver related to the death of George Floyd. An internal review found he violated the department’s social media policy, Denver police said in a statement. Across the country, several executives have recently resigned over similar backlash regarding statements made about the protests. Tuesday [June 9], CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman stepped down after a tweet about Floyd sparked backlash and a wave of affiliated gyms cut ties with the company. In a Zoom call held with CrossFit gyms, Glassman reportedly said: “We’re not mourning for George Floyd — I don’t think me or any of my staff are.” In a statement, Glassman said he made a mistake and should have been more sensitive, but denied being racist. [On June 6] the Philadelphia Inquirer’s top editor, Stan Wischnowski, resigned after an uproar over a headline lamenting damage to business amid turbulent protests denouncing police brutality against people of color. The newspaper had apologized for a “horribly wrong” decision to use the headline, “Buildings Matter, Too,” on a column Tuesday about looting and vandalism on the margins of protests of Floyd’s death. . Editor’s note: This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. Denver Urban Spectrum joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public.

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With the recent Supreme Court ruling on DACA comes more time,

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Tina Griego, Colorado News Collaborative

As of the end of last year,

Colorado was home to 14,640 DACA recipients. They have always known their freedom runs on a clock. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Trump administration cannot summarily shut down the program does not change the precariousness of their legal status in this country, but it buys more time here. For now, Colorado recipients say, that is more than enough. “I just got done wiping my tears,” DACA recipient Kenia Pinela of Carbondale said this morning. “I feel like I can breathe again, just a huge sigh

of relief. I feel so grateful and blessed.” Mario Bravo Fuentes, a recipient from Grand Junction, said his mom woke him calling to tell him the news. “I’m not really surprised, but kind of,” he said. “When they ruled in favor of LGBTQ rights, that’s what gave me a little bit of hope.” The Obama administration launched DACA, short for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in 2012 after repeated failure by Congress to pass legislation that would provide a means for undocumented immigrants, particularly those brought here as children, to become legal residents.

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The program gave qualified young immigrants protection from deportation and, with it, permission to work legally in this country — a Social Security card, the nine-digit passport to life in mainstream America. “Oh my god, the weight just lifted off my shoulders,” said Pinela, now the director of community-based programs for a nonprofit that serves immigrants. She recalls the day her Social Security card arrived in the mail at her Carbondale home. “It was opportunity. Looking at the card, I was visually seeing my future.” DACA permits are good for two years and must be renewed. In 2017, after declaring recipients had nothing to fear, the Trump administration attempted to shut down the program, arguing that President Obama exceeded his authority when launching it. The attempt was partially successful. The administration stopped granting new permits, but renewals continued as court battles ensued. The Supreme Court last November heard arguments on whether the entire program should be scrapped, and, based on the justices’ questions and comments at the time, few experts were expecting a decision against the administration. “It’s definitely a good day to be wrong,” said Arash Jahanian, director of policy and civil rights litigation for the Meyer Law Office, an immigration law firm in Denver. The court did not take up the question of DACA as a policy, but ruled the administration’s attempted termination was arbitrary and did not comply with “the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


Armando Reyes Zapata

explanation for its action,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “The ruling surprised us not only in allowing the program to continue, but in reinstating new applications, not just renewals,” Jahanian said. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans from both major parties support the program and permanent legal residency or citizenship for recipients. Dozens of organizations representing health care, labor, and education, the military, religious institutions, and business filed briefs in support of the program. The decision provides DACA recipients another reprieve. For how long remains unclear. The administration could try to rescind the program again, though that seems unlikely, legal experts say, before November’s election, the result of which will also determine DACA recipients’ futures. As a Supreme Court decision loomed the past few weeks, five Colorado DACA recipients talked about the difference the program has made in their lives, how they manage anxiety around a future that often feels as though it’s built on borrowed time and why they continue to hope that one day they will be recognized as Americans. Their accounts and this article can be read in its entirety on the Denver Urban Spectrun website at m/sections/spectrum-talk. . Editor’s note: This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. Denver Urban Spectrum joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public.

Youth With A Future…Building New Leaders for Challenging Times

Adding to the summer heat with an at home quarantined pandemic and nationwide protest, we have a new health crisis unprecedented in our communities. Yet there are new lessons for young people as they try to fit in, maybe marching in protest or supporting front line workers, asking how do I make a difference? New, capable leaders are needed to lead us out of future crises, and they need to be adept with all the available tools. It’s never too early to plant the seed and sifting through the bombardment is challenging. Youth With a Future (YWAF), a program of the Transformational Leadership Forum, continues at the forefront of creating effective young leaders. Each summer its participants met weekly discussing leadership, viewing films on current issues, and leveraging technologies in storytelling. Previously field trips included to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. There will be no field trips this summer, as everyone is hunkered down, but still ready to learn. Director Robert Fomer says students have already received their iPads, and their projects throughout the summer include an eBook, podcasts, a magazine, and info graphics focused on their past present and future…their story. In absorbing knowledge and lessons from others they will listen to speakers and are required to read at least two leadership books from a built list and 20 books will be reported on by the students. Additionally students will view 10 films on leadership and current issues, including Just Mercy, on their iPads, and review them in the context of today’s environment. The will

also write on how COVID-19 has affected them and their families. Although there may be no field trips, they will experience the cultural diversity of other parts of the world with an audio conference on July 8 with students in Colombia and Costa Rica. During this time it is important that we remain grounded and for young people this may entail finding new footing with new and relevant experiences. The students will be introduced to the Youth With a Future 8 Core Values in the beginning sessions, and will be immersed in them throughout the summer in their various activities. “We firmly believe that through these 8 core values, that we can increase urban youth’s capacity for achievement, leadership potential, and technological skills to help their communities and college or career planning,” says Dr. Fomer. Corporate support has been integral to Youth With a Future’s programs and partnerships have been established with Apple Computer and Open Media, which facilitates the online classroom studio, and FirstBank who will assist with bank account assistance and the importance of saving. When you’re young, with proper guidance and real life and real world experiences confidence is inspired and there is nothing like getting paid for your work. Throughout the summer students will produce various work products for YWAF, and based upon their participation will be paid a stipend of $12.70 per hour up to $600 for the summer. In this program students

learn from their peers and those just beyond their peer group. Jamaika Elliott is a college intern who has been associated with Youth With a Future since her junior year at Denver East High School. She facilitates some of the online learning in the Google Classroom. Her goal is to be a cardio thoracic surgeon, and the college sophomore is studying

Integrated Physiology at CU-Boulder. “Dr. Bob’s mission is to give youth an idea of what leadership looks like, and I know that growing up I was given multiple opportunities to see what is being a leader like in the future and helping out my community and other communities,” says Elliott on why she returns as an intern. “I wanted to be a part of that mission by using my own experiences and telling students what I have learned through Dr. Bob’s mission and other people’s missions that have been a part of my life.” In these challenging times, missions are prudent. There is never a right time for leaders, at any age. “Younger people become older people. It’s very important to give space to those younger people to realize that they have a voice,” says Elliott.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


By Charles Emmons

Despite often being discounted by older generations, Elliot believes young leaders eventually emerge. “They will grow up kind of fearful thinking ‘oh I can only say something when I am a certain age.’ But this is so important. Younger people will be here when we are gone and will be the new leaders, and it is important for them to know that they can start right now being a leader and building those skills. They can be a part of that conversation and tell the world how they feel. It is important to hear every viewpoint, not just the older generation, not just my generation, but the younger generation as well.” Today there are no small choices. Each one will have an impact, and this goes far beyond the adage of each one teach one. Collectively we must make sure we leave the world a better place, and must stand up for the right thing, and this includes thanking those who continue to work for us like grocery workers. “My whole perspective is to challenge young people with this whole virus situation, no matter what our ages are, we have never gone through anything like this,” says Dr. Fomer. “As we look to the future, it is the young people like this that will face the different crises before them, so what will it be like for them to be leaders and how to prepare for them?” YWAF is giving them valuable tools for the times ahead. Jamaika Elliott is spearheading a social media strategy for conversations about the coronavirus and social justice that will include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, so follow and Google YWAF.. Editor’s note: For more information or to support YWAF visit the Young, Black, Giving Institute, (YBGB),, which supports Black led non-profits.

Letters to the Editor

Lost Your Joy?

Find it again at the

United Church of Montbello! Come as you are and get connected to your best self through great fellowship and the love of Jesus Christ! Sunday Worship: 8:00am (Traditional) and 10:30am (Gospel) 4VOEBZ 4DIPPM BN r 8FEOFTEBZ #JCMF 4UVEZ QN

Rev. Dr. James E. Fouther, Jr., Pastor 4879 Crown Blvd., Denver, CO 80239 303-373-0070

15037 E. Colfax Chambers Plaza • Aurora, CO 720-620-3236

Continued from page 3 The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that violence in protests is counter-productive to the protesters’ message. Shop owners and businesses should not be singled out for punishment. Everyone should patronize and support those who have suffered by the violence. Do not allow the destructive actions of those who are not allies of the movement overshadow the actual purpose and message of the protesters. Black lives matter! The true strength of this nation is in the inclusion of all races, creeds, gender and sexual preferences. Let us all search for ways to encourage, motivate and reward everyone who wants to have a place in this great laboratory of freedom and democracy that we call the United States of America. It is not just a place for the superrich, the super-talented, the super-beautiful, super-straight or super-powerful. It is a place for all. Please remember that each time you see someone who looks different, is acting a bit different or who just seems lost. There are shared values that the huge majority of Americans share. Let’s search for them as we also demand justice and equality. Let us look for solutions that we can replicate with our families, friends and institutions. Economic disadvantage is an underlying issue of the current protests. The protests that began in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd are beginning to take on the additional issue of economic justice, For All! As these issues come more front and center, let us all use our voices to demand economic justice. The distribution of wealth continues to be, and further grows, extremely unbalanced. These should not be political issues; they should be justice and economic issues only. Let’s look beyond political

labels and demand that our political leaders stand up for the values expressed in our constitution and our Declaration of Independence. All people, yes All people, have the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.� In a democracy, meaningful change starts at the ballot box. Please study the issues and find out who is contributing to the dialogue. Educate yourself from reputable sources. Find out who is talking about human rights and economic justice. Find out whether the candidates understand why Black Lives Matter. Anyone who refrains from voting is abdicating their responsibility. Please vote!

Mike Sawaya Denver, CO

JCRC Stands Shoulder to Shoulder with the African American Community Editor: The Colorado Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), a program of JEWISHcolorado, strongly condemns the unjust death of George Floyd. We send our deepest condolences to his family, his friends, and his community. The Torah (the Hebrew Bible) teaches that we must not stand idly by while our neighbor’s blood is shed (Leviticus 19:16). It is what drives us to fight anti-Semitism, bigotry, and racism wherever it may rear its ugly head. Over the course of human history – and in our living memory – we have seen what happens when people stood idly by while hate and oppression took the lives of millions and devastated ethnic and religious groups. Notwithstanding the end of slavery 155 years ago, this community continues to bear the brunt of systemic racism. There

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2020


are a number of examples: lack of access to healthcare and high rates of employment in positions deemed essential has resulted in African Americans suffering much higher rates of infection and death from the novel coronavirus; they are incarcerated in American jails and prisons at a much higher rate than other groups; and many African Americans are fearful that interactions with law enforcement may escalate resulting in them, their family, or their friends never coming home. We applaud Governor Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s calls for an end to bigotry and racism, for validating the rights of Coloradans and Denverites to peacefully protest, and for condemning those opportunists who engage in senseless violence that will only serve to further divide us. JEWISHcolorado’s Regional Safety and Security Initiative is proud to work with those dedicated public servants whose primary objective is the protection and betterment of our society. We draw inspiration from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and heed his call to action, “Racism is an evil of tremendous power [and] surrender to despair is surrender to evil. What we need is a total mobilization of heart, intelligence, and wealth for the purposes of love and justice.� We stand shoulder to shoulder with the African American community to create meaningful change and justice for all. Editor’s note: Rooted in shared Jewish values and enduring commitment to Israel, the JCRC is a coalition of 39 organizations and 15 at-large members that advocates for the Colorado Jewish community, educates on issues of importance to the global Jewish community, and cultivates and sustains relationships with public officials and faith, ethnic, and other stakeholder groups.

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