More than 65% of voting property owners opted to retain the Stapleton name in a referendum last summer. But the death of George Floyd and the ensuing unrest renewed the debate.
“A lot of people have woken up to the social injustice and the endemic racism that permeates through the society,” said Keven Burnett, executive director of the community association. “Things have changed in a major way.”
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
Christie Spilsted, a delegate on the Stapleton neighborhood’s community association, said she initially was against changing the name because it would cost too much and the community had decided against it.
“I had a change of heart. … By not acting more decisively on this, I was holding up the process of racial equality,” she said at Wednesday’s virtual meeting.
The community association’s recommendation will be followed by a vote by a community board of directors. The community’s master developer and the City and County of Denver also need to approve a name change before it can take effect.
Former gubernatorial candidate and state treasurer Walker Stapleton, the great-grandson of the former mayor, tweeted Sunday that he was disappointed the democratic process represented by previous resident votes was being overlooked.
But Stapleton said he supported the name change if it “brings more equity, fairness and opportunity” for Denver residents and Colorado residents of color.
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