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Stapleton name change ‘reignited,’ ‘re-energized’ by protests, calls for racial justice

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 13:15:21-04

DENVER — The group behind the effort to change the name of Stapleton says they have received a wave of increased support following protests and calls for racial justice after the death of George Floyd.

“Originally, people were speaking. Now I think they’re shouting,” Kimberly Brewer, of the group Rename Stapleton for All, told Denver7.

The group, and others, have been pushing for a change to the popular Denver neighborhood built on the land of the former Stapleton Airport for years. The community is named after former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton.

“He also carried an ideology that was part of the Ku Klux Klan. He was an active member, he was not just a passive member,” Brewer said.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests and movements calling for equality and the removal of racist imagery, statues, and names have gained steam. Brewer believes that momentum is being felt in Stapleton.

“People are waking up and decrying subtlety. Time out for being passive. Time out for trusting that someone else is going to solve the problem,” she said.

Within the last few weeks, 21 Facebook groups have changed their names to remove the name ‘Stapleton’ from them. That includes Stapleton Gardeners, who are now the 80238 Gardeners, and North Stapleton Political Action, which is now known as Northfield Political Action.

Several local small businesses have also changed their names, according to Brewer. The Rename Stapleton For All petition has ballooned from 500 signatures to more than 3,100 as of Friday afternoon in the last few weeks as well.

“I would say the fight is being reignited,” she said. “I think there’s always been a low burning flame but now people are reignited, they are re-energized.”

Denver7 went 360 on the issue of the Stapleton name change last summer, ahead of a community vote on the topic. Denver7 followed that up with another 360, speaking to a historian about Benjamin Stapleton’s involvement with the KKK, and how it may not be as simple as his one-time membership.

“I do think Stapleton is so well established now that to change the name now is kind of silly,” resident Sarah Pincus told Denver7 in June of 2019.

“We today are living the legacy of white supremacy and white privilege,” another man who raised his kids in Stapleton countered.

Voters ultimately decided last summer to keep the name.

But Brewer thinks that vote would go a different way if it was held again.

“I think if we voted on this issue again tomorrow and all members were allowed to speak, I think there would be a resounding response,” she said.

There are no votes or ballot measures scheduled on that topic, but the group says they will remain open to all options moving forward now with their new momentum.

On Saturday, Denver Public School Board member Tay Anderson — who organized peaceful protests for George Floyd and led the charge to end DPS' relationship with the Denver Police Department — tweeted an ultimatum, demanding a name change in one week: