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Hey, #Boulder. A bit early to start tweeting, but the chambers are already quite full for 5:30. Tonight's special city council meeting on racism starts in ~25 min. Lots of overflow seating set up outside chambers, and even some of that has been claimed.
Zayd Atkinson is here, along with Naropa's Charles Lief and possibly an attorney... ? Dude definitely looks like either an attorney or a politician. Not smiley enough for a politician, methinks. boulderbeat.news/2019/03/10/i-t…
Majority-white crowd so far, perhaps unsurprisingly.
Sources tell me that overflow seating is full, too. City staff are stopping people from coming up to council chambers.
Council members are filing in. As I reported, they are not sitting behind the dais, but are on the floor level with the audience. I'm told they will be joined by City Manager Jane Brautigam, who will read a statement tonight, and Police Chief Greg Testa.
V noisy in the chambers as we prepare to get started. Though I predict we'll begin a few min late
Crowd is quieting down, so maybe this is it..? 5 of 8 city council members here so far. Nagle and Yates missing.
One of them is coming later (Mayor Jones doesn't say which one)
"This is a community that cares about matters of consequence," Jones says. Turnout shows that. "While there's a lot (we) can say tonight, we're going to listen." Reminds audience that they are "legally obligated" to refrain from judgement during public comment.
"Even without this incident, we already knew we had work to do in this community."
Council is sticking to 2 min per speaker. "We totally know that's not enough," Jones says. "Our intention is to provide space and time for all the perspectives in the room. This listening session is just a first step in a long conversation."
Recognizes that tonight's forum "might not work for everybody. The topic tonight is painful and challenging. We fully expect to hear testimony that includes pain and anger." Reminds people not to clap, cheer, or boo speakers.
Rev. Mary Kate Réjouis starts us out by telling everyone to "turn to a neighbor and offer a welcoming smile."
Moment of silence for the Christchurch victims.
Giving thanks for the first responders. And for ppl here tonight. "Let us now pause and prepare our hearts and minds to listen."
"The words 'we' and 'us' so often have not included all persons."
Asks audience to remember Boulder's history, including the removal and slaughter of indigenous people's, Latinx ancestors, black CU students forced to live on Goss Street bc they were not welcome on campus.
Boulder was one of (or the) first in CO to elect a black mayor, Penfield Tate. "But we are past that," she says. "One Penfield Tate does not cure us of our ills."
Norma Johnson is going to read her poem, “A Poem for My White Friends: I Didn’t Tell You”
OK, the collection is called Poems for my White Friends; I Didn't Tell You is the first in that collection, "largely inspired by living in Boulder," Johnson says.
Johnson: I wrote that poem in 2008. It's now being used nationally to inspire discussions about race. I hope you've been able to hear; that was my prayer when I wrote this, that it could be heard and felt.
Audience foregoes the clapping ban. "We'll break our own rules for Norma," Jones says.
Former DA Stan Garnett has agreed to conduct an independent review of this process, Brautigam says of the Boulder PD investigation into the confrontation with Zayd Atkinson.
Brautigam: I want to publicly and personally apologize to Zayd Atkinson and his family. I’m very sorry for the pain and fear you must have endured during this incident. I cannot tel you how grateful and humbled I am for the example you have set in the aftermath.
"My door and heart is open to you. I’m committed to learning about the reflections you might have."
At the same time, Brautigam said, she recognizes that the community's pain and anger goes beyond this incident. References the work Boulder is doing with GARE.
" I hear the anger in your individual and collective calls for justice."
Speaking to the cops, she asks officers to think of this incident as an opportunity to reflect and change for the better.
"I assure you this has affected me deeply, and other city employees."
Zayd Atkinson is speaking now.
Boulder is making a show for appearances sake, he says. He asked for an independent review of the police incident: Instead, Boulder picked a 9-yr Boulder DA. " Boulder has not taken this request seriously, and I have been ignored and my power has been taken away again."
Annett James, of Boulder chapter of NAACP, repeats calls for civilian oversight of police dept.
"Put down your bucket is a life and death difference between drop your weapon."
James said the city declined and opportunity for dialogue but retreated behind the gate of an internal investigation. "When the gate opens, we’ll be waiting there."
Nikhil Mankekar, chair of the HRC, says it took three years to get before council with recommended changes to bias-motivated crime sentence enhancements. Asks council to stop the talk. "Action, action, action. The time is now; the time is always now."
President of Naropa Charles (Chuck) Lief: "The lawyer in me understands the need to wait for a process to be in completed. The human in me says I cannot wait."
Jones said before Lief spoke that we need to start paying attention to time of speakers. I have a feeling that is not going to happen.
First two speakers, Elicia Goodsoldier and Manuela Sifuentes, recalled an email they sent to CC in Boulder (plus Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, BoCo Commissioners) about a band playing at local events that used brownface and Native imagery..... No one answered that email.
Next speaker, Shirly White, formerly of the HRC, says that group asked for quarterly data on PoC moving through the justice system. That still hasn't happened. Also thinks the community deserves answers on the former diversity officer.
Gloria McVeigh: I respect the police, but I no longer trust our police dept training and judgement.
Steve Bentley is reading a poem. Lots of good lines like this one, "Blue does not have to be synonymous with harm."
Al Petersen calls for an apology from Chief Testa, plus racial sensitivity and de-escalation training for the Boulder PD.
Michael Franklin, Naropa prof for 22 yrs: I can't tell you how many office hours have been spent with weeping students who are thinking about leaving our program bc of the heinous experiences they've had in our community.
"You have harmed my capacity to recruit students of color to my program. The word is out about this community."
Evan Ravitz says Garnett is "eminently unqualified" to lead this investigation.
Rob Smoke points a finger (literally) at City Attorney Tom Carr and Chief Testa, says they should not be involved in investigation in any way.
Steven McMillion brought a trash grabber. Recounting his own arrest and excessive use of force, for which he said he won a case against the city. "City wants you to think this is about race, but it's about the homeless. They face this brutality along with our minorities as well."
Lynn Segal is the first to reference the elk murdered by police in 2013. "We're going downhill."
Garnett recommended one year and should have given six in that incident, Segal says.
Shelia Davis, public health researcher and NAACP Boulder member, wants a program launched here to foster dialogue between cops, youth. "Dialogue works."
Bill Spain, who worked for city of Newark, OH, referencing program that helped police "get out of their cars" and engage with the community.
Neshama Abraham defends Boulder PD as "excellent" and "thoughtful" and Testa as "a good man."
"I think (the community's demands) are going to be listened to." (Implicit bias training, de-escalation training, etc.)
Darren O'Connor gave a few seconds of remarks and is standing silently with his sign, but there are *loud* cheers and clapping from overflow seating downstairs, where they are not subject to the rules of the chamber.
Kinda makes me wish we had that every council meeting. It's nice to hear the reactions of a distant crowd.
oh man, Mayor Jones asks the ppl downstairs to be quiet. Her remarks greeted with cheers; the doors are ordered shut.
Madelyn Woodley, of NAACP Boulder, repeats a statement that other members have uttered tonight: "No more shall our voices be heard but our message muted."
Woodley and her sister Glenda Robinson reference their nephew, Ron Settles, who was killed by police while a senior in college. presstelegram.com/2016/02/17/mov…
Clapping from downstairs tells me that the overflow crowd has not heeded the Mayor's request to be quiet. YOU GO, OVERFLOW!
Anna Segur recounting the time her husband, from El Salvador, was pulled over at gunpoint by Boulder PD. She is speaking bc it was too traumatic for him to tell the story himself. She herself is near tears.
Masyn Moyer: "You didn't have to condemn the police to just say something." I consider it complicit.
Janet Heimer: "I’ve lived in Boulder for 50 years. In all those years, Boulder has never been what it thinks it is. You cannot grow up white in this country and not be racist. I think we've talked and listened enough. We have to make a change; it has to be now."
Very passionate speech from Laura Gonzalez. So good I was only listening and not typing it down.
Ja'Mal Gilmore apologizes to all people of color in the room: "This is my fault, bc I sat here for 19 years and watched you and profited off it."
Addresses Zayd Atkinson: "I promise I am here, I will be here."
Gilmore: "I teach my son how to live in this world. I teach him to be perfect. Better than perfect. Your white kids can come up here be crazy, do whatever the hell they want to do. But you profile me. Land owner, business owner, fought for my country."
Whoa. Epic. Earns a thank you from Mayor Jones and a round of applause from downstairs.
Louise Oncley: "How many trespassers come to properties to pick up trash? I wish they’d come to my property."
Maria Murillo: "We are hurting a lot."
Her kids are moving away, even though they've lived here for 20 yrs, bc they want to feel comfortable and safe.
Deidre Johnston: We’re a strong intellectual community; I’m feeling this here. (Puts hand over her heart)
She is one of several people tonight recounting encounters with police where weapons where drawn.
Kirsten Wilson: If our city was to actually prioritize bias and equity work and put this beloved young man’s safety at the center of every conversation, would create a stronger and healthier community for everyone.
Neil DiMucci is one of those clapping and cheering downstairs, he tells council. He's not stopping. You go, Glen Coco.
Delivering a message from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center: It's time for civilian oversight of our police dept. that the community can truly trust.
Eric Budd: I grew up in St. Louis. My family was part of white flight, part of what led to the racial problems there. "In a lot of ways, Boulder is part of white flight. We have so much segregated ourselves; we are walled off from the greater community."
Rachel Friend: College teacher of criminal justice. PoC compared to white ppl for doing the same exact things are more likely to be stopped, arrested, given longer sentences, denied parole, put into solitary confinement....
... When we profile, we are shoving them onto a path that ends in a dark place. It all traces back to police exercising discretion.
We fight really hard and out front on climate; I would ask the same here."
Feels like a good time to note that, although Jones said one of the two missing council members (Yates, Nagle) would be here later, they are still not here that I see.
Speak of the devil and he doth appear: Yates *just* walked in.
Guillermo Estrada-Rivera: I came here 6.5 yrs ago, and Boulder told me, “Boulder’s white, Boulder’s politically correct, and words matter.” It means white words matter more than our Latinx identity. Boulder is not white; Boulder is diverse. We need to break that narrative.
I also want to note that Zayd is sitting smack in front of the speaker's podium. I cannot imagine the pressure of that, after everything else.
Bheema Bachus is the first to reference NIMBYism: "I think ppl want to design a community that looks exactly like them and exclude everybody else."
We are on speaker No. 50: Erica Joos.

I was told there were 47 signed up. There are at least 55, according to list of speakers up on the big screen.
There are 58 speakers, city clerk says.
Yo, overflow, there are empty seats up here
Cynthia Beard recounting the arrest of her husband, which included excessive force and charges of assault against cops. Says that, under Garnett's leadership, the prosecutor referenced his support of Black Lives Matter as evidence of anti-police bias.
Dozen-plus open seats now in the chambers. Rep. Jonathan Singer just showed up (or maybe he was just downstairs). Joe Neguse is here, too.
One empty seat by me, too, if you don't mind the smell of BO and loud typing.
Robert Sharpe going over all the isms.
Felicia Pless: It is not the job of the minority to teach you how to take action.
Jay Matthews: another speaker referenced that 12% of arrests are PoC but only 1% of population is. Even that doesn't include ppl like Zayd who were hassled. Police motto is to protect and serve the community: not just white ppl. All of us.
"When is the last time police had a bake sale? Educated children? Do community outreach?"
"We're not super predators. We're just like you. And you. And you. Your sons and daughters."
Says when he meets with his black friends, "one of the first things we do" is swap stories of being hassled by cops.
“My wife asked me, why don’t we go out more? You know why? Because I fear. I fear some overzealous police officer and his officers.”
Zoey Sherry: Being anti-racist is not an identity: it’s an activity.
Asks council/city leadership: What anti-racist activities are you doing?
Daniel Houser, friend of Zayd Atkinson: You are supposed to be here. I'm really glad you're here.
Avi Chertok is our last speaker. No. 57.
"Zayd, we're just so glad to have you as part of our community. Really cherish the fact that we can still say that."
Calls internal police investigations the "great blue wall of silence."
Jones: Thank you all for coming here. We've heard some horrifying stuff. That took a lot of courage to share. We heard what a drag it is to be a person of color in Boulder. That's very hard to hear.
Everything we've heard about this incident is incredibly troubling. I'm glad to have this conversation, even though I'm sure it feels like we've had it before.

I'm not sure, but I think she is fighting back tears.
Unusual display of emotion from Jones, who is quite stoic and matter-of-fact.
"What we've heard is a very loud call for action. We hear you."
Thank you again. Let us continue this journey together. You'll be hearing more from us in the days and weeks and months. Hold us accountable; hold our community accountable.
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