By Melissa Garcia
DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of protesters gathered outside ink! Coffee in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood Saturday to protest the company’s recent pro-gentrification advertising campaign.
A sign placed in front of the coffee shop on 29th and Larimer read, “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”
Some residents said the message was tone-deaf, tasteless and offensive.
Ralliers were also encouraging a boycott of the local business that remained closed over the holiday weekend and was scheduled to reopen early Monday morning.
Signs of destruction remained where vandals tagged the building with paint and threw rocks through the window during the community’s backlash.
Protesters Saturday used their voices to get their messages across in a non-destructive way.
“This is what community looks like,” the ralliers chanted.
A company spokesperson initially responded to community complaints by saying that the advertising sign was a bad joke.
Protesters, however, said that gentrification and the troubles it causes are no laughing matter.
“Our communities are in pain,” said Victor Galvan, who grew up in Five Points and spoke at the protest.
Booming development and rising rent prices pushed Galvan and his family out of the historic and formerly affordable neighborhood, Galvan said.
“I’m 26 and I’ve been moving my whole life because of not being able to find an affordable place to live,” Galvan told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “We used to be able to rent an apartment in this area for $400-$500 dollars (for a) one to two bedroom apartment. Now that’s not even the case. It’s triple that for a one-bedroom.”
ink! Coffee’s founder apologized for the sign’s message on social media saying in part, “I interpreted it as taking pride in being part of a dynamic, evolving community that is inclusive of people of all races, ethnicities , religions and gender identities. I recognize now that we had a blind spot to other legitimate interpretations.”
Rally organizer Tay Anderson said that an apology was not enough. He planned to hold the business and the city accountable.
“We need to sit down and have a deeper discussion with those directly impacted by gentrification,” Anderson said.
Anderson (https://www.facebook.com/auontai.anderson.1?fref=search) has invited anyone interested to sign up for a new coalition to curb gentrification.
He hopes that citizens, community leaders and city officials can work together to come up with some solutions.
ink! Coffee has not responded to CBS4’s request for an interview.