This letter was published in the August 22, 2017 Gazette and August 23 Colorado Springs Independent in response to recent national and local hate speech.
Our collective national attention has been consumed by the appalling behavior and rhetoric in Charlottesville, motivated by hatred and bigotry. We should not forget, though, that in our community we have recently brushed with the same dangerous ideology and behavior, which should have already been relegated to the shadows of history.
On one recent night a synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic symbols and property was marred with a racist slur. This week we learned that the white nationalist hate group (according to Southern Poverty Law Center) VDARE had planned a conference in our community.
For 25 years Citizens Project has been challenging the Pikes Peak region’s national reputation as a place in which discrimination and bigotry are tolerated. We know this reputation to be false. Citizens Project is heartened by the strong community response, peacefully denouncing hate. In the public outcry following these two events, many in the community boldly declared, “We will not tolerate hate in our city!” The exclusionary ideas that led to these events are not the values of our community and this month we came together in action.
Citizens Project is now proudly challenging the assumed narrative on billboards across the region. “Bravery NOT Bigotry.” “Welcoming NOT Walls.” “Diversity NOT Discrimination.” Those are the values of the Pikes Peak region.
— Staff and board of Citizens Project, Deb Walker, Executive Director