Hope Tank, a cheery shop full of doodads and whatnots that donates part of each sale to local nonprofits, was vandalized by a white supremacist group Wednesday, according to owner Erika Righter.
Four or five other businesses were similarly vandalized, Righter said, declining to name them.
Righter said a staffer arrived at work in the morning to find two stickers advertising a hate group recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist organization. The vandal placed the stickers over signage welcoming everyone regardless of nationality, race, religion, sexual preference or gender.
One sticker read, “WILL YOUR SPEECH BE HATE SPEECH?”
“The work that we do at Hope Tank is definitely about inclusivity and about justice, and so we are obviously open to criticism on that front,” Righter said. “However, the thing that I think that people miss is that our whole neighborhood is made up of people who have done business in the neighborhood for a very long time, who have actively fought for inclusivity and justice.”
She pointed to Soul Tribe, Mutiny Information Cafe and Buffalo Exchange, businesses she says step up against hate all the time with no press. But a couple of stickers have attracted unwanted cameras inside her store.
“If this surprised people, then they’re not really paying attention, because this is rampant everywhere in the country,” Righter said. “These are often not people you would expect. They are in and amongst us, they are probably friends of people, customers. Again, we can’t be surprised and we can’t be complacent to this. We are all a part of upholding this system.”
In April, a man was stabbed five times at Goodwill across the street, allegedly for removing stickers posted by the same group, according to a Westword report.
The Denver Police Department said it is investigating the incident, along with other reported vandalism by the group along South Broadway.
Righter and other businesses will hold a block party on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. to show the neighborhood is “about hope over hate,” she said.