DENVER – Denver police are investigating a series of racially charged signs that have appeared in the Highlands. Since Monday, police say about eight flyers have been posted with derogatory messages such as "Get rid of the poor Hispanics," and "This neighborhood belongs to the whites now."
Local poet Bobby LeFebre says he believe the attacks are a side effect of gentrification.
"There's a lot of tension in the neighborhood and I feel like this is a manifestation of that tension," LeFebre says. Saturday afternoon, LeFebre lead a group of more than a dozen Denver residents –mostly Hispanic- around the neighborhood to express their disgust.
"This neighborhood isn't integrating as it should be," LeFebre says.
"Initially, it was anger," says Phil Vigil, a lifelong Denver resident whose family has lived in the city for decades. Vigil says as more move into the Highlands, the complexion of his neighborhood is changing.
"It is hard," he says. "It's hard for a lot of people." Now with two children of his own, Vigil says he hopes to redirect the message sent to his young boys.
"We're not leaving," he says, adding that he doesn't expect new neighbors to leave either. "We are still here, we are united, and we are a proud people."
Lauri Briscoe has lived in Denver of eight years. Briscoe is Caucasian and says she carries a sense of guilt for unknowingly intruding on an historic neighborhood. When she saw the signs, she was livid.
"I was furious and ashamed that the sentiments were from people like me, " she says.
Police have been canvassing the neighborhood, hoping to find someone who saw something. They urge residents to call if they have any information, adding they take racist and intimidating messages seriously.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)