The issue: Racist groups could hold national meetings in Colorado Springs.
What we think: The city should stay together to prevent violence and to make it clear: There’s no room for hate or violence in the city.
When branding Colorado Springs as Olympic City USA, the city aligned itself with very specific values: inclusion, respect, equality, inspiration.
The brand builds on the foundation set by Gen. William Jackson Palmer, an abolitionist who fought to maintain the union of the United States, and followed by Fannie Mae Duncan, who operated a club that proclaimed “Everyone Welcome!” during a time when not everyone was welcome in other establishments. We celebrate and honor both people’s contributions with the Olympic City brand.
Colorado Springs is set to receive national attention — not only for its Olympic City USA branding, home of the United States Olympic Committee, but also for its efforts to create a cybersecurity industry here that can compete with any city across the globe. The city’s attracting business interests, companies drawn to the region thanks to its workforce, its natural beauty and its history.
There’s no place here for the kind of extremists and violence that we saw in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. There should be no room for hate and divisiveness here. This isn’t debatable, and it isn’t a conservative or a liberal issue. It’s a human issue. In the 21st century, marchers carrying Nazi and Confederate flags and promoting violence against other people should be relegated to history. This kind of hatred should have been laid to rest long ago.
The Business Journal believes in, supports and advocates for the First Amendment, which protects both free speech and the right to assemble peacefully. But that doesn’t mean businesses are required to provide a platform for their speech, nor does it mean our city should welcome a group espousing racism and hatred — idealogy that has no place in modern American society.
That’s why Mayor John Suthers had exactly the right response to news that VDare, an anti-immigration, racist, white supremacy group, would be coming to Colorado Springs for a gathering in April at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort.
The mayor’s admirably direct statement, which came quickly and forcefully: “The City of Colorado Springs does not have the authority to restrict freedom of speech, nor to direct private businesses like the Cheyenne Mountain Resort as to which events they may host. That said, I would encourage local businesses to be attentive to the types of events they accept and the groups that they invite to our great city.
“The City of Colorado Springs will not provide any support or resources to this event, and does not condone hate speech in any fashion. The City remains steadfast in its commitment to the enforcement of Colorado law, which protects all individuals regardless of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, harassment and physical harm.”
We applaud Mayor Suthers for his statement — let’s hope city leaders do meet with the resort to put an end to the conference, however. And let’s all be steadfast in our willingness to protect and support fellow residents who might be targets while this group is in town, to uphold the state’s laws and to make it clear: In the city where everyone is welcome, there’s no room for hate.