DENVER — Mayoral challenger Jamie Giellis deleted social media accounts Wednesday after drawing criticism for her comments related to African Americans, Latinos, and Asians.
Giellis apologized Wednesday for what she called a “momentary lapse” when she was unable to identify what the initialism NAACP stands for in an interview on the Brother Jeff Fard show.
The NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is America’s best-known civil rights organization.
“This campaign has expanded my knowledge of other cultures, their wants, struggles, and successes,” Giellis said in a written statement explaining her NAACP gaffe.
Within hours, Giellis announced a tacos and lowriders fundraiser at a Mexican restaurant in Denver.
A tweet announcing the tacos and lowriders campaign event was later deleted from Twitter Wednesday night, but the event is still scheduled Thursday evening.
Twitter users noted that Giellis’ personal Twitter account, under her maiden name Jamie Licko, contained a 2009 tweet in which the urban planner questioned the prevalence of Chinatown neighborhoods in cities across America.
“Here’s a question: Why do so many cities feel it necessary to have a ‘Chinatown’?” Giellis tweeted on May 13, 2009.
The Chinatown tweet was deleted late Wednesday night and Giellis’ entire personal Twitter account was deactivated minutes later.
The Giellis campaign’s Instagram account was similarly deleted Wednesday night, as was Giellis’ personal Instagram account. The campaign account went live again Thursday.
9NEWS reached out to the Giellis campaign late Wednesday for comment on her race-related comments and her social media purge. On Thursday morning, her campaign released this statement:
“Our campaign Facebook and Twitter pages remain active and we are working on restoring the campaign Instagram page. I turned off my personal accounts when I felt like personal statements were being taken out of context for the purpose of diverting the conversation from the issues that Denver is facing and voters care about.
Throughout my work and travels I have shared personal observations about what I was seeing in neighborhoods around the world. The comment about Chinatowns is one example. I was noticing that those neighborhoods were changing, that "Chinatowns" became less of the cultural centers that they once were.
I continue to meet with voters every day to talk about the issues that are important to them: runaway development, our homeless crisis, and bringing leadership that puts people first.
As for our fundraiser tomorrow, our Facebook event is up and we welcome anyone to join us and our hosts.”
Giellis faces two-term incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock in a June 4 runoff election after Hancock was held below the threshold to win outright in the first round of voting.
Giellis was endorsed Tuesday by Hancock’s two other key challengers, Penfield Tate and Lisa Calderon. Both Tate and Calderon had stressed outreach and inclusion of minority communities during their campaigns.
Thursday, Calderon published a Twitter thread on behalf of her and Tate. She said that politicians should know about the NAACP, she feels Giellis has taken responsibility for her statements.
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