Anti-Gentrification Night of Broken Glass in Denver
Print Friendly and PDF
There was a racist hate crime in Denver last week, for which the Mayor blamed the victim. But now the Mayor is being blamed for not blaming other potential victims enough.

Of course, nobody is calling it a hate crime for the usual Who? Whom? reasons.

Judging from one afternoon I spent there in July, downtown Denver is currently prospering. But …

From the NYT:

Denver Cafe ‘Happily Gentrifying’? Neighbors Aren’t So Happy


Ink Coffee in Denver became a target for vandalism and outrage after the cafe posted a sign saying it was “happily gentrifying the neighborhood.”

DENVER — The sign outside Ink Coffee was supposed to be a joke: “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014,” read the sidewalk board, displayed in a rapidly changing part of Denver once full of black and Latino families.

The joke did not last long. …

The cafe’s owner, a self-described ski bum from Aspen, Colo., issued a swift apology, but the anger did not abate. Soon someone smashed a shop window and scrawled graffiti across the storefront.

The sizable role played by crime and racist violence in blacks acquiring and maintaining control of potentially valuable urban real estate is little remarked upon these days.

Mayor Michael Hancock was quoted calling the sign “very insensitive and disrespectful.”

And a flippant sidewalk board had grown from an ill-conceived advertisement into a full-fledged symbol of the pain and anger that have accompanied urban transformations from Brooklyn to San Francisco.

“It was like someone punched me in the heart,” said Alizah Wright, 38, a medical biller who grew up around the neighborhood, known as Five Points, a few blocks from the coffee shop. She can no longer afford to live in the area. …

A thousand families a month are moving to Denver these days, and the exploding demand for housing has pushed up rents and property values. The median price of a single-family home has doubled in the last five years, to about $450,000. That price is beyond the reach of about half the city’s residents, according to researchers at Harvard University.

Though the city’s population is overwhelmingly white

The city of Denver appears to be about 53% non-Hispanic white, which I guess these days qualifies it as “overwhelmingly white” if not “hideously white.”

In the 2016 election, Denver County (not quite the same as Denver city) saw Hillary beat Trump 74-19.

, it has a black mayor and a black City Council president. Community organizers have been calling on city officials to take a more aggressive approach to creating and protecting affordable housing, pointing out that minority residents are more likely to be displaced by rising rents. …

A Denver writer named Ru Johnson spotted the board and posted a photo on Twitter, where it prompted immediate outrage. One person observed that “a pro-gentrification sign to a black person is like hanging a ‘Whites Only’ sign.” …

Tay Anderson, a 19-year-old who had recently run for a seat on the Denver school board, organized a rally and a boycott of the cafe. On Saturday, the sidewalk outside the shop was crowded with protesters, clustering in the autumn sun, some with small children perched on their shoulders. Men and women carried posters: “Gentrification = Urban Colonialism.” “Black Lives Matter. White Coffee Doesn’t.” “Eat the Rich.”

You’ll notice that the entire “controversy” is framed as being about the horribly insensitive thing the coffee shop did, not the racist criminality unleashed on the coffee shop. For example, the black mayor of Denver is not being criticized for blaming the victim of the glass-breaking racists, he’s being blamed for not being racist enough. For example, from the Denver Post:
Mayor Michael Hancock says criticism directed at him over ink! Coffee gentrification controversy is “misguided”

Denver mayor says sign flap has created “an opportunity to respond to this community-wide issue”

DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 27: By JON MURRAY | | The Denver Post

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday waded into a gentrification controversy sparked like a powder keg by an ink! Coffee sign in Five Points, calling it “a very serious macroeconomic issue” even as some protesters have targeted their ire directly at him.

“I think it’s wonderful, to be honest with you,” Hancock said during an interview about the opportunity for a broader discussion about gentrification.

Ink’s sandwich-board sign last week described the shop as “happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.” The professionally produced sign, spotted outside ink’s location at 29th and Larimer streets Wednesday in the River North Arts District section of the historic near-downtown neighborhood, immediately sparked a furor on social media, leading to a well-attended protest Saturday outside the shop.

But some attendees turned their fire on Hancock — and that has prompted him to defend his administration’s attention to the displacement of longtime residents and other negative effects of gentrification.

On Saturday, some protesters held aloft signs that appropriated the design and message of ink’s sign board to accuse Hancock of “happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2011.”

The upshot of all this, I suspect, is that urban white liberals will decide they must redouble their efforts to encourage blacks to move to Ferguson, MO. If only those bad, bad white people in Ferguson weren’t so racist, all the blacks would move there.

[Comment at]

Print Friendly and PDF