“This is a cross burning in 2018”: Denver anti-slavery advocate finds burned election materials on his porch

3 min. read
A photo of charred pro-Amendment A canvassing materials on Jumoke Emery-Brown’s porch. He posted this to his Facebook page on Nov. 5, 2018. (Courtesy: Jumoke Emery-Brown)

Jumoke Emery-Brown ran home this afternoon after his wife, Amy, found a pile of burned election flyers on their front porch and called him in a panic, he told Denverite. The two are parents and activists, and Jumoke Emery-Brown has been a leading voice on Amendment A, the measure to remove slavery from the Colorado constitution.

"Slavery is not a Colorado value," the charred flyers stated.

They were still smoldering when Amy Emery-Brown found them, he said.

The materials were distributed by Together Colorado, a faith-based advocacy group whose website says it "values, uplifts and protects the humanity and human dignity of every person."

Amy Emery-Brown has also been an outspoken activist in the city, leading a Black Lives Matter 5280 takeover of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade in 2016 and an overnight vigil in Civic Center Park following the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling later that year.

Jumoke Emery-Brown's full Facebook post, Nov. 5, 2018. (Courtesy: Jumoke Emery-Brown)

Jumoke Emery-Brown was still angry when he spoke to Denverite, and said he felt the timing of the incident was not a coincidence.

"There have been politicians across the country, many of them in Washington, fanning the flames of racism, fanning the flames on my porch," he said. "This is a cross burning in 2018."

This comes a day before Election Day, when Colorado voters will decide on Amendment A, and a week after faith and civic leaders met at Temple Emanuel to decry hate crimes as the country reacted to a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Emery-Brown said he called the Denver Police Department. As of the time this was posted, they had yet to arrive. A DPD spokesperson said it was too early to comment on whether this would be treated as a bias-motivated crime.

State statute says: "A person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, he or she," among other things, "knowingly causes damage to or destruction of the property of another person."

Activists break the chains of a giant pair of shackles after a rally to vote "yes" on Amendment A, Aug. 28, 2018. That's Jumoke in the center, wearing grey. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Emery-Brown said he will soon be distributing a press release. He's less interested in pressing charges than he is letting people know that it happened.

"This isn’t the 1950s, this is 2018 in the middle of Denver," he said. And while he was shocked to find the burned pile on his porch, he added, "We won’t be intimidated."

Update: Nov. 6

Jumoke Emery-Brown said Denver Police did not respond on the day of the incident, but media coverage prompted them to collect evidence on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

DPD said they sent their bias-motivated crime unit to investigate.

Jumoke Emery-Brown also said when he got the call from his wife about the smoldering flyers on their porch, he was already dealing with an incident that happened at Regis University that day. A woman that he said is like an aunt to him, who works at Regis, found a "targeted letter" slid under her office door. He said it was marked with a swastika and stated "white lives matter."

He added that he did not think the two instances were related, except in that white supremacy is "in vogue."

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