After dispatching mental health teams, instead of police officers, to certain 911 emergency calls, the city of Denver is proclaiming their pilot program a huge success—and expanding it significantly. Since June 2020, the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) has deployed medical and behavioral health clinicians to respond to over 2,200 low risk calls reporting trespassing, intoxication, or mental health crises involving poverty, homelessness or addiction. In all that time, STAR teams have never called for police back-up due to a safety issue, according to their January report. In January, the City Council unanimously allocated a $1.4 million contract for the STAR program’s expansion, paying for five additional white vans and hiring 7 clinicians, 4 paramedics, and two emergency medical technicians.
Aurora, CO - On March 22, residents of the Sable Altura Chambers community in Aurora, Colo., won a four-month-long struggle to keep Sable Elementary School from being shut down by the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education. This grassroots struggle, its members made up primarily of parents and teachers, has called into question the true motives behind the BOE’s “Blueprint APS initiative” and the decision to close Sable Elementary. Blueprint APS is a plan created by Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn that aims to consolidate and repurpose multiple public schools in Aurora due to what Munn refers to as “changing enrollment trends.” Blueprint APS divides Aurora into seven geographical regions.
This facility is used during the day up until 9:00 p.m. as a warming shelter when the temperatures are dangerously low. However, with the night low expected to be 10 degrees Thursday into Friday, community members are taking matters into their own hands. “If the City will not open the Recreation Centers for this life or death need, we will just have to do it ourselves. We are here to keep this public Recreation Center open to the public so unhoused neighbors can stay here tonight to survive this weather.” With Denver’s homeless shelters full during the below freezing nights, people who are seeking a warm place indoors have no available options. The organizers of Thursday’s action point out in their press release that “the City has an existing contract with Bayaud Enterprises to run a pop up emergency shelter at Recreation Centers in extreme winter cold,” but that they never used it.
A group of natural gas companies and utilities in Colorado formed a front group to oppose the state’s push towards electrifying homes and businesses, spreading misinformation about the cost of electric heating while also promoting false solutions to lock in the ongoing use of natural gas. The group, “Coloradans for Energy Access,” is made up of a coalition of gas companies, real estate interests, utilities, and other energy trade associations, including Atmos Energy, American Public Gas Association, and the Consumer Energy Alliance. Announcing its formation in an op-ed in the Colorado Sun, Coloradans for Energy Access decried what it calls “forced electrification,” a reference to a growing movement in Colorado and around the country to discourage or prohibit natural gas connections in newly constructed homes and commercial buildings in an effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
On Wednesday, January 12, more than eight thousand workers at around eighty King Soopers and City Market grocery stores in Colorado went on strike after declining what the stores’ parent company, Kroger, called its “last, best, and final offer” on Tuesday. The workers, who are members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7, had voted nearly unanimously to authorize the strike earlier this month. The King Soopers contract expired on January 8, and workers say the company — which is owned by Kroger, the country’s largest grocery chain and fourth largest private employer — has been dragging its feet at the bargaining table. Distance remains between the two sides on issues of pay, health care benefits, and worker safety — in the sense of COVID precautions as well as protections from customers
Dar-Lon Chang moved to this Denver suburb to start a new life. In Houston, he’d spent 16 years as an engineer at ExxonMobil, the nation’s largest fossil fuel producer. In Colorado, he planned to pursue a career in renewable energy, but the real draw was his new house. Oriented towards the sun, with solar panels on the roof and high-performing insulation, it was capable of generating as much carbon-free energy as it consumed. What little heating and cooling it required came from an efficient, all-electric heat pump. Through these parallel tracks—the domestic and the professional—he and his family would become part of the climate solution, he hoped, rather than participating in its destruction.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos is a Cuban truck driver who was sentenced for 110 years in prison because of a vehicle accident on the I-70 in Denver in 2019. The brakes of the semi-truck failed and he crashed into traffic, causing a 28-car pile up, killing four people, and injuring several others. The accident occurred because the company Aguilar-Mederos worked for at the time did not properly maintain their equipment and permitted a driver to use a truck with faulty brakes. “I ask God too many times why them and not me? Why did I survive that accident?” Aguilera-Mederos said to the court. “I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me.
The last remaining charges have been dropped against three activists in the US who were involved in organizing protests seeking justice for Elijah McClain. On September 13, Monday, John Kellner, the 18th Judicial District Attorney for the Arapahoe County in Colorado State, announced the dropping of all the 12 remaining charges against Joel Northam, Lillian House and Terrence Roberts, nearly a year after their arrest. Northam and House are members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). While the decision to withdraw all charges against House and Roberts was taken on Monday, the motion to clear Northam of charges was passed on September 9. The decision comes months after felony charges were withdrawn in April this year by Kellner. The last remaining misdemeanor charges together carried a maximum prison sentence of 13.5 years.
Denver, Colorado. On March 25, 2021, after over nine hours of testimony at a preliminary hearing, Adams County Court Judge Leroy Kirby dismissed the First Degree Attempted Kidnapping charge against Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Eliza Lucero of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (“PSL”). This represents a major step forward in the defense against the political prosecution levied by Aurora police and prosecutors against the leaders of peaceful demonstrations in Aurora this past summer demanding justice for Elijah McClain. The defendants could have faced 12-24 years in prison for this single charge if convicted. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution provided no evidence that any of these protesters committed any act of violence, or barricaded any entrance...
On March 24, 2021, a man shot up a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, killing nine workers and shoppers and one police officer. I live nearby and heard about the shooting when a comrade sent me a local Libertarian’s livestream of the tragedy as it was happening. About five minutes into the livestream and roughly six minutes since the first shots were fired, four Boulder Police officers rushed into the store. They were met with what sounded like gunshots, then two of the officers ran out of the King Scopers entrance. This is likely the moment Officer Eric Talley was killed. For the next 45 minutes, SWAT from neighboring municipalities rallied outside of the King Soopers, but despite their advanced body armor, firearms, and training, they did not go inside.
Montana and Colorado have both stopped attempts to pass Right to Work laws and will continue to be free bargaining states. In Montana, Republicans have control over the entire state government, a first in over 16 years. Yet, over the past month, union members and employers have successfully pushed legislators to vote against Right to Work. On Tuesday, with union members filling the gallery and lining the hallways, legislators voted down the bill by a vote of 38 in favor to 62 opposed. In a show of bipartisanship, 29 Republicans joined with 33 Democrats in opposing the bill. In speaking in opposition to the bill Rep. Derek Harvey, a Democrat from Butte spoke about the role that unions played in his city producing the copper that fueled the industrial revolution, electrified the nation, and supplied ammunition during both World Wars.
Aurora, CO - Police agencies in the Denver area arrested anti-racist organizers in a coordinated assault today. People were arrested in a Home Depot parking lot, at their homes, and after they were pulled over while driving. Those arrested were the leaders to demand justice for Elijah McClain, who was brutally murdered by the Aurora Police Department. They are still in jail, with the exception of one person. They are facing multiple felony charges and years in prison in an obvious frame-up aimed at stopping the movement for justice for Elijah McClain.
The wildfires that exploded over the past few days in California and Colorado show clear influences of global warming, climate scientists say, and evidence of how a warming and drying climate is increasing the size and severity of fires from the California coast to the high Rocky Mountains. They may also be the latest examples of climate-driven wildfires around the world burning not only much bigger, hotter and faster, but exploding into landscapes and seasons in which they were previously rare. For tens of thousands of Californians enduring evacuations, and millions more suffering through smoke that has brought some parts of the state the worst air quality in the world, the recent fire weather has seemed almost biblical. The entire state and much of the rest of the West has been, for the last week, in the grip of a "heat dome" that has brought temperatures of 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit to Death Valley, perhaps the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet.
Washington, D.C.–Today, the United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit ruled that a case launched by Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder will proceed in state, rather than federal court. Marco Simons, General Counsel of EarthRights International, which is representing the municipalities in the case, issued the following statement in response: “We applaud today’s decision as an important step forward in our lawsuit against Suncor and Exxon. Federal courts have consistently ruled that these climate cases belong in state courts — which makes sense because these cases are about harms experienced at the local level. The Colorado state court has already begun considering this case, and today’s ruling means that the case will not be moved to federal court as the oil companies would prefer.
Denver - The ACLU of Colorado has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Black Lives Matter 5280 and other protesters against the City and County of Denver over police use of force during the protests against racism and police violence that erupted in the city last month after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The complaint alleges the use of force by Denver police, Denver sheriffs and Colorado State Patrol effectively “restricted, frustrated, and deterred” the First Amendment right of protesters in the city. The ACLU said police responded, “repeatedly with an overwhelming and unconstitutional use of force” during protests from May 28 to June 2. “Plaintiffs have been-and still want to be-part of the movement to protect Black lives,” the complaint reads.