Tag: Ethnic/Minority

What’s up with the four City Council candidates who are ditching forums and questionnaires?

An attendee at the “Stand for the Constitution Freedom Rally” last July 4 (Photo: Facebook). Stand for the Constitution endorses Haitz, Andrews, Green and McAllister, calling them “our candidates.”

Kristin Wynn of Citizens for Clean Air Grand Junction reported that her group has not received responses to questionnaires they sent to City Council candidates Mark McCallister, Kraig Andrews, Jody Green, and Greg Haitz. Nor did any of these candidates bother to respond to a short questionnaire from the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley and none of them participated in the City Council Candidate Forums organized by the Western Colorado Alliance, which were held virtually on Zoom.

So why are these four candidates dodging public forums and refusing to answer City residents’ questions? And what do they all have in common that the other four candidates don’t?

For one thing, they are all endorsed by the local right-wing extremist group  “Stand for the Constitution,” who calls the slate of them “our candidates.”

Application by Cindy Ficklin to be D-51 Superintendent raises alarm

Cindy Ficklin (L), an applicant for the job of D-51 School Superintendent, flashes the hand signal of the “Three Percenters” militia while scuba diving in Hawaii. (Photo credit: Facebook). Right photo & caption are from Wikipedia. The Anti-Defamation League lists this gesture as a racist hand sign. [UPDATE 2/20/21]: We have since been informed that in the context of scuba diving, this symbol is used to say a diver is “OK.” That was likely the case in this scenario, although since Mesa County is largely a desert, very right wing politically, has numerous elected officials who have in fact advanced QAnon theories and Trump’s lies about the election, and since few people here scuba dive, many people interpreted this symbol in its political context rather than its scuba diving context.]

Grand Junction real estate agent Cindy Ficklin submitted an application February 10 to become District 51 Superintendent, raising alarm bells among people familiar with her extremist views.

Who is Cindy Ficklin?

Ficklin is a 40-something GOP firebrand known for her extremist right wing views and her outspoken manner.

In a red-meat speech she gave on July 4, 2020 to a mostly un-masked crowd at the “Stand for the Constitution Freedom Rally” in a local park, Ficklin railed against masking and contact tracing — the only tools available to control the Coronavirus. She said that “CDC guidelines for opening schools … are literally formed of human torture and child abuse,” and spread the false narrative that government was forcing vaccines on people. She railed against public health recommendations to “stay home to stay safe” and whipped up anger at community efforts to control the virus, saying “the new normal” we’re all living with is “an attempt to infringe on our civil rights.”

More hate in Grand Junction

Some of the 30-40 racist, sexist and homophobic memes and cartoons sent anonymously to the author in the mail this week

Grand Junction’s “Inclusivity Proclamation” notwithstanding, there is plenty of hate and racism in Grand Junction. The above represents a small fraction of the 35 to 40 hate-filled memes and cartoons someone took the time to copy, cut out and mail us in an anonymous snail mail letter, received on Tuesday, 9/22/20. The rest were similar, many were worse, and many focused on Trump worship, denigrating Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, liberals, non-white people, etc.

 

 

Shadowy Chamber “social welfare” group funds billboard thanking racially tone-deaf members of G.J. City Council “for their service”

The Chamber and WCBA’s billboard thanking the most tone-deaf city council members when it comes to racism in Grand Junction

The little-known, seedy political arm of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), has appeared again in Grand Junction, this time funding a billboard praising four sitting Grand Junction City Council members who recently earned the reputation for being the most tone-deaf when it comes to racism: Philip Pe’a, Duke Wortmann, Phyllis Norris and Kraig Andrews.

Pe’a was the councilman who was so threatened by what he claimed was the presence of G.J. Police Department’s “swat team” at the June 3 Council meeting that he proclaimed he thought he might need to bring his Glock handgun into the meeting. That was the meeting that was attended by a crowd of City residents who showed up to protest pervasive racism they had seen or experienced in Grand Junction, or to support friends who had experienced it.

Grand Junction’s Police Chief later confirmed there were no SWAT team members at the meeting that day.

Mesa County Republican Party removes Facebook post suggesting George Floyd’s death was a hoax

Screen shot provided by the Colorado Times Recorder of the post deleted from the Mesa County GOP’s Facebook page

The Colorado Times Recorder reported June 3 that the Mesa County Republican Party removed a post from its official Facebook page that suggested George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police on May 25, 2020 was faked.

The post contained a list of questions about the incident meant to imply it was staged, including:

“Why does one photo from behind show the man on the road is not handcuffed and the video from the front that he is handcuffed?”

“Why does the video show the diesel fuel price as 99 cents instead of the regular price in the area of $2.49?”

“Why does the police car have a non-municipal license plate with “Police” on it?”

(NOTE: The police car has a license plate that says “Police” because many Minneapolis Police cars have license plates on them that say “Police.”)

When asked why he removed the post from the page, Kevin McCarney, Chair of the Mesa County Republican Party, told the Times Recorder, “It’s not the position of the Party.”

Grand Junction mosque’s new sign vandalized

Two Rivers Mosque’s new sign after vandalism

On August 31, the Islamic Center of Grand Junction unveiled a colorful new sign installed in front of its new Two Rivers Mosque at 8th and Gunnison Ave. and held a community barbecue to celebrate. About 50 people attended the barbecue, and it was an afternoon of peace, friendship and great food.

Not three weeks later, the sign was vandalized beyond all recognition.

What to do if ICE comes knocking: Know your rights

On the same day Trump’s raids on immigrant families are scheduled to start (today), Trump issued a series of tweets that make his racism very clear:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…… ….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how……..it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Trump and his administration are working to create terror in immigrant communities throughout the U.S. by directing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carry out sweeping “family op” raids across the country on undocumented immigrant families who have been in the United States for years.

Free digital literacy resources available from Southern Poverty Law Center

Are you a teacher looking for ways to teach kids how to tell the difference between real and “fake” news, how to determine whether an online source is legitimate, reliable and fair, and how to engage in social media discussions responsibly? Are you looking for ways to help kids negotiate topics in the news, like immigration, civil rights, race and gender identity?

Well, here’s your answer.

The Southern Poverty Law Center now offers free Common Core-compatible classroom materials and resources that can help kids discern malicious online fare like propaganda deployed by hate groups to recruit new members, false conspiracy theories and racist lies. It will also help kids become more sophisticated consumers of news and social media and navigate topics like race and ethnicity, religion, variations in ability, immigration, class, bullying and bias, gender and sexual identity and rights and activism.

And did we mention it’s all free?

SPLC’s, program, “Teaching Tolerance,” includes K-12 lesson plans that align with Common Core standards and offers professional development tools that will help teachers increase their own online savvy. Teachers can access a multitude of resources, like lessons for different grade levels, student tasks, lesson plans, teaching strategies for different grade levels, film kits, printable posters and other classroom materials, and they are all available at no cost by visiting Tolerance.org.

Trump on immigration: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

NBC Nightly News

Kick the kids out of the room. The president in on TV again, and again it’s for a shockingly offensive comment, especially from an American president.

The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump actually told a bipartisan group of Senators in a conversation about immigration today,

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Trump-linked hate graffiti found at Horizon Drive Safeway

Graffiti left in the restroom at the Horizon Drive Safeway this evening.

An employee at the Horizon Drive Safeway discovered hateful anti-gay graffiti scrawled in the store’s restroom tonight and posted photos of it on social media. The employee discovered the graffiti while changing out of work clothes in the restroom.

One message was “Trump 2020” with a swastika. The other message said “God hates all fags,” also with a swastika.

The vandalism occurred between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. this evening.
Donald Trump’s presidency is fueling divisiveness, emboldening supremacists and radical right wing hate groups and has led to an increase in hateful rhetoric around the country, including in Grand Junction. Trump’s negative comments and punitive policies towards immigrants, transgendered citizens and other minorities are also contributing to an increase in hateful rhetoric directed at these groups.  Our community is not immune.

Trump Appoints White Nationalist, Anti-Feminist Steve Bannon as “Chief Strategist”

Article published by Breitbart News that encourages fat-shaming of women, the way Trump did to the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado

Article published by Breitbart News that encourages fat-shaming of women, the way Trump did to the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado

President Obama is trying to calm the fears of people abroad about a Trump presidency, while here at home Trump is stoking public fears of his presidency by his appointment of Steve Bannon a his “chief strategist.”

Who is Steve Bannon?

You might want to sit down before you read this.

Steve Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a far right wing commentary website known for championing views of the “alt-right,” a white supremacist fringe ideology that has raised alarm bells for its chest-pounding, misogynistic, race-baiting, and anti-Muslim positions. Breitbart and the so-called alt-Right oppose multiculturalism, immigration, feminism and have a strong disdain for diversity. Breitbart News has actually carried articles with headlines saying “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off,” “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews,” and “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.”

Grand Junction Business Owner Trying to Make People Feel Safer in Wake of Election

The T-Shirt Litsheim plans to market to help make people feel safer

The T-Shirt Litsheim plans to market to help make people feel safer. To get your “Protector of Peace, Ally to All” shirt, call or text Litsheim at 970-201-8752.

After David Litsheim, owner of Seeds of Revolution at 241 Grand Ave., started reading growing numbers of first-hand accounts on social media of racist assaults and bullying after the election, he wanted to find a way to address the problem. With help from Bryan Wade, Litsheim designed a highly visible T-shirt that will serve as a symbol telling people “If you are being intimidated or fear for your safety, come to this person because they are safe.”

The campaign mimics a similar campaign that sprang up in the United Kingdom after Donald Trump’s election. Brits have started wearing safety pins on their lapels to symbolize anti-bigotry, anti-violence and safety.

Who Is the Woman Cutting Loose With a Racist Rant in Front of the Mesa County Health Department?

Adding to concerns about the growing undercurrent of bigotry, hatred and intolerance that runs in western Colorado, this unidentified Grand Junction-area woman cut loose with a racist rant towards a Latino family in the parking lot of the Mesa County Health Department on Monday, August 1.

The family expressed concern about a dog that was left in a hot car in the parking lot.  The temperature that day was in the mid to high 90s.

One of the Latino family members filmed the woman’s rant as evidence in case the woman harmed them, then posted the video on Facebook, where as of August 4 it had gotten over 360,000 views. It’s also posted on YouTube.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ran an article about the incident and the video in today’s paper.

So far, the woman engaging in the racist rant has not been identified.


UPDATE: Here is the ranting woman’s response after the video went viral. She claims she is hispanic herself so could not be racist.

City of Grand Junction Officially Endorses Gay Pride Week

The City of Grand Junction's official proclamation endorsing Gay Pride Week in town

The City of Grand Junction’s official proclamation endorsing Gay Pride Week in town

In a landmark action towards welcoming diversity in our community, at its Wednesday, May 4, 2016 meeting, the Grand Junction City Council will officially declare May 2nd through May 8th, 2016 “Grand Junction Pride Fest Week.”

More Proselytizing Reported in District 51 Schools

Proselytize definition

Yet another incident of inappropriate proselytizing was reported in a District 51 school late last month. The parties spent the last few weeks working to resolve it. An update was just recently available. Following is a description of what happened.

On December 31, the father of a Lincoln Orchard Mesa (LOM) Elementary student contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), a western slope group that advocates for separation of church and state, about an inappropriate incident of proselytizing involving his child that occurred at LOM on November 20.  The student is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.

According to the parent and child, here is what took place:

LOM students were taking their regularly-scheduled lunch break in their school’s lunchroom on Friday, November 20, 2016.  The student at the center of the incident was sitting at a table chatting with friends in the lunchroom, as was usual for kids at lunch. During the conversation, the student shared with her friends that she did not believe in God. A friend who heard the comment immediately went to a nearby lunchroom assistant named Jody Payne and told her that her friend did not believe in God. Ms. Payne went over to the table and told the student, in front of her friends, that “God created everything” that she “needed to, and should believe in God.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation Warns Delta County School District About Illegal Proselytizing

Gideon Bibles piled on a table at the entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015

Gideon Bibles on a table at the only entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015

An attorney with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a national organization that acts to protect the principal of separation of church and state, sent a letter (pdf) January 6, 2016 to Delta County School Superintendent Caryn Gibson and Delta County School Board President Pete Blair warning of the potential legal consequences of continuing to ignore the ongoing proselytizing and harassment of students over religion in Delta County schools.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote that the on-campus Gideon Bible giveaway a student documented in Delta Middle School’s library during class hours on December 18, 2015 violates the U.S. Constitution. School Superintendent Caryn Gibson has tried to defend the giveaway by saying the district’s “open forum” policy for non-curricular literature distribution permits the bible giveaways.

But Seidel lists three reasons why the District’s policy doesn’t provide legal cover for the bible distribution.

In-School Proselytizing is Not Permissible

“First,” Seidel writes, “[I]t is unconstitutional for public school districts to permit the Gideons International to distribute bibles as part of the public school day. Courts have held that the distribution of bibles to students at public schools during instructional time is prohibited.” Seidel cites two significant U.S. court rulings that have upheld this principle.

“Second, even when distribution of religious materials is done passively — from a table of some other fixed location — courts have ruled that distribution may be unconstitutional,” he writes, citing 2009 8th Circuit Court case Roark v. South Iron R-1 School District.

“Third,” Seidel writes,

“…if Delta Schools maintains this passive distribution policy and continues to assert that it allows the Gideons to prey on other people’s children, we [will] formally request permission to distribute FFRF literature in March. We will also contact other potentially interested organizations, including the Satanic Temple, to alert them to this unique opportunity. We already have local volunteers willing to set up the distribution.” [Italicized emphasis appears in the original letter.]

WCAF's new brochure for kids, "It's Okay to Not Believe in God"

WCAF’s new brochure for kids, “It’s Okay to Not Believe in God”

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, a western slope secular advocacy and church-state watchdog group, is among those ready to distribute literature to Delta Middle School students. The group recently created a colorful, new age-appropriate brochure about atheism titled “Its Okay to Not Believe in God!” (pdf) which they are eager to deploy in schools with open forum policies, like Delta County’s.

FFRF Sued Over Same Issue in Florida, and Won

FFRF has confronted these kids of in-school bible giveaways and “open forum” policies before, and won.

Jime Charlesworth, the Delta Middle School teacher who told her class "people who aren't Christians are the bombers."

Jime Charlesworth, the Delta Middle School teacher who told her students “people who aren’t Christians are the bombers.”

On June 12, 2013, FFRF sued the Orange County, Florida school district over a very similar “open forum” policy the district cited in response to protests over an in-school bible giveaway similar to the one at Delta Middle School. When FFRF asked to distribute its own literature at the same school, and the Satanic Temple asked to distribute their childrens’ coloring book and fact sheets, the school district refused to distribute their literature. FFRF then sued the district. The Orange County school district spent two years and $86,000 trying to contest the lawsuit before finally giving up and voting in February, 2015 to ban distribution of religious materials of any kind in District schools — the very remedy FFRF had originally asked for.

Mr. Dunham, Delta Middle School drama teacher

Mr. Dunham, Delta Middle School drama teacher who leads prayers in a school classroom every Wednesday morning, using free doughnuts to lure kids to the prayer sessions

Seidel lists other religious violations reported at Delta Middle School, including the school making all students watch a religious play about the baby Jesus (even students who protested it), and a teacher named Mrs. Charlesworth, who in December, 2014, reportedly told her students she was Christian and that “people who aren’t Christians are the bombers.” When a student protested the statement, Mrs. Charlesworth said she felt “it was her duty to teach the class about Christianity” and then harassed and ridiculed the student in front of the entire class. When the student’s parent contacted the school about the incident, the school “investigated” and concluded Mrs. Charlesworth didn’t do anything wrong, but immediately moved the student to a different class. The student reported that other teachers at the school have continued to harass her, including a drama teacher, Mr. Dunham, who according to Seidel’s letter “runs or ran the ‘Children’s Ministry’ at the Thunder Mountain Church of Christ in Delta.”

Two DMS teachers also reportedly lead students in prayer in one of the school’s classrooms every Wednesday morning, offering free doughnuts to lure kids to attend the sessions. Mr. Dunham is also one of the teachers who regularly leads the on-campus student prayer sessions.

Next Move is on Delta County School District

FFRF told Delta County School officials that if true, all of these allegations amount to constitutional violations, and asked for a prompt reply about how they intend to correct the violations and prevent them in the future. WCAF has also written to the district superintendent and the Delta County School Board notifying them of the problems with proselytizing, religious harassment and peer bullying occurring at DMS as a result of their apparent endorsement of Christianity on campus, and warning that these are violations of separation of church and state, but have only gotten a canned response from the superintendent saying district policy allows Gideon Bible giveaways.

 

Freedom From Religion Foundation Weighs in on CMU’s Graduation Bible Giveaway

GradBThe Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster urging him to end the practice of allowing Gideons International to hand out bibles to students at on-campus graduation ceremonies.

A group of students who are about to graduate from CMU’s nursing program have protested an administration plan to have Gideon Bibles offered to students at their December 11 pinning ceremony at Moss Auditorium. Program instructors indicated to the nursing students that the bible giveaway was a non-negotiable part of the ceremony. Later, under pressure, program staff held a mandatory vote on it by email only, a method that would allow them to identify the dissenting students.