DENVER - Residents of the Denver's Curtis Park neighborhood say they're tired of gentrification happening where they live.
After an ink! Coffee shop on Larimer St. was vandalized earlier this week for displaying a controversial sign that read, "Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014," people are now using the incident as a jumping off point to address what they say is an even bigger problem.
Though the coffee shop was closed for the holiday weekend, a big crowd still formed outside its doors Saturday afternoon. However, people weren't lining up to get coffee. They were calling for a boycott of the business.
Most of the people protesting outside of ink! Coffee said they live in the area and think they're being kicked out of their own homes "without an economic future" because of a gentrification problem.
"We need to build economic power so that we can own these shops and we're not being pushed out of our own neighborhoods," Lisa Calderon, one of the organizers of Saturday's protest, said. "We have nowhere to pushed to other than outside of Denver."
Calderon and other speakers at the protest said part of the problem is with current city leaders who aren't doing enough to protect them or their communities. During Calderon's speech, she told the crowd that "our political leaders have failed us," "left us out" and "left us behind" when it comes to economic opportunity.
Calderon and a few others announced they're forming a new coalition to fight gentrification throughout the city. They currently don't have a name for their group but already have a clear mission.
"The first point we want to make is direct accountability from ink! and the cultivator who made this sign and thought it was OK," Tay Anderson, another one of the protest's organizers, shouted to the group. "People have said they gave an apology and that is good enough. If you think giving an apology is good enough, you are part of the issue we are trying to solve."
The group will also push for candidates "that will put a curb to gentrification" during Denver's next city council and mayoral elections, Anderson said. They're also calling for Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council to repeal the urban camping ban, "ditch the I-70 project," and support their new coalition while making sure they have resources they need to stop gentrification.
"If anything, we're glad that the sign galvanized our community for something that was festering for years anyway," Calderon said. "So, we've been able to see it manifested and now we can do something about it."
Monday at 6 a.m., the group said it will stand outside ink! Coffee and hand out coupons for other coffee shops.
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