PPEC members speak out on hate

Citizens Project is a proud member of the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition. The following is a letter in response to the bias-motivated crimes on July 3, written by Rosemary Harris Lytle and Shawna Kemppainen on behalf of PPEC:

The alleged bias-motivated crime that sent two soldiers to the hospital, ironically on Independence Day weekend, has resulted in outrage from the LGBTQ community and their allies in the wider civil-rights community.

Many details of the crime are still unclear and not even a real description of the suspects is yet available. But what happened has resulted in cries for more dialogue, more understanding and more education about diversity, inclusion and public safety.

As representatives of the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition (PPEC), we join our voices with those who recognize that racial and ethnic tension, heterosexism, gender bias, able-ism, and other forms of discrimination still run high in Colorado Springs. Our broad coalition is committed to a strong, vibrant community where the most vulnerable are cared for and responsive leadership values diversity and equality.

Unfortunately, reports of another alleged hate crime mean that our coalition has plenty of work to do — and so does our city has a whole. Marginalized groups, in this instance the LBGTQ community, often wonder whether they stand alone in combating the discrimination.

With our city’s troubled history,  it will take a comprehensive strategy, wide community dialogue and support from the highest echelons of leadership, to get to the root causes of our troubles.

If we continue to ignore the obvious need to, as icon Fannie Mae Duncan said, make everybody feel welcome, it will affect everything – from which employers choose to bring jobs here to whether tourists will come to witness our region’s beauty and bounty.

But Colorado Springs can’t continue to be beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside. The literal bottom line is that the lack of acceptance of those perceived as “different” is a villagewide issue. And it will take our whole village to change it.

— Shawna Rae Kemppainen, Executive Director – Inside Out Youth Services

— Rosemary Harris Lytle, President – Colorado Springs Branch NAACP

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