Denver Officials Confront Surge in Hate Crimes Following Vandalism of Martin Luther King Jr. Monument

MONTGOMERY, AL - MARCH 25: Dr Martin Luther King Jr speaking before crowd of 25,000 Selma To Montgomery, Alabama civil rights marchers, in front of Montgomery, Alabama state capital building. On March 25, 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama.

Denver officials and city leaders convened on Monday morning at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument to discuss the increase in hate crimes across the state following the recent vandalism at the site.

An investigation has been launched by the Denver Police Department in collaboration with the Bias Motivated Crime Unit.

It is uncertain at this time whether the vandalism will be classified as a hate crime, pending confirmation of a motive.

However, Denver city leaders emphasized the significance of tackling the increase in hate crimes that have taken place in Colorado.

Information provided by Hate Free Colorado, a collaboration of 18 civil rights and advocacy groups and 7 law enforcement agencies, indicates a 9% rise in hate crimes statewide from 2022 to 2023.

According to a 2022 survey conducted by the coalition, approximately 1.25 million Coloradans reported experiencing verbal harassment, property damage, and/or physical injury since 2020, as stated by Denver City Councilwoman Shontel Lewis.

“We can begin here with the monument of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the background, but there’s also the disappearance of the historical marker from Denver’s Chinatown, and we’ve observed offensive graffiti at synagogues too,” she mentioned, highlighting the increase in hate crimes against Colorado’s Jewish community following the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A Call for Unity and Action Against Hate in Denver


DENVER, CO – FEBRUARY 21: Sculptor, Ed Dwight, left, and Dr. Vern Howard, right, chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission, discuss the vandalism on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument in City Park Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, February 21, 2024. Vandals stole a bronze panel depicting Black Americans who fought in U.S. wars and two decorative bronze emblems, one next to an engraving of the monuments title. Dwight made the monument, Howard was the project manager of the monument.


At the news conference, Lewis also revealed the establishment of a coalition of city leaders to address hate.

You could view it as a Rainbow Coalition. This afternoon at the city council, supported by several representatives present, a call for unity is being made.

“For unity within our community, for us to come together as one and rise up,” Lewis said.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once expressed to Cesar Chavez, ‘Our separate struggles are really one.'”

Lewis emphasized the importance of collaboration among government agencies to strengthen communities and address all types of hate.

Regarding the restoration of the “I Have a Dream” monument at City Park, Councilwoman Lewis mentioned that some city council members are exploring options to provide financial support for these initiatives.

Wellington Webb, the former Denver Mayor, has already initiated a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for repairs.

Former Denver School Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson urged lawmakers and Governor Jared Polis to provide funding for the restoration during the news conference.

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