Following comments about blackface, Denver lobbyist Roger Sherman resigns from group charged with nominating citizen watchdogs

“In recent weeks there was public discourse that made his appointment seem less appropriate,” Denver City Councilman Paul Kashmann said.

Police parked outside Denver's City and County Building during a lockdown Wed., Feb. 27, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Police parked outside Denver's City and County Building during a lockdown Wed., Feb. 27, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

CRL Associates lobbyist Roger Sherman has resigned from his role screening people for Denver’s Citizen Oversight Board on Friday following a Facebook comment he apparently made about college students wearing blackface.

The board is a volunteer body that assesses the Office of the Independent Monitor, which watchdogs the city’s police and sheriff departments. Denver City Council members appointed Sherman in July though some were uncomfortable with Sherman’s deep ties to Denver’s political scene and his donations to candidates.

Cannabis entrepreneur Wanda L. James shared screenshots on Facebook of what appears to be Roger Sherman’s commentary defending the First Amendment rights of Colorado State University students to wear blackface. “Too many colleges and universities have used aggressive enforcement of overly broad and vague speech codes to police and punish student expression,” the message says.

City Councilman Paul Kashmann confirmed Sherman’s resignation, telling Denverite he received a letter Friday morning after he and other council members expressed concern about comments on social media.

“I let Roger know that I didn’t think his comments were appropriate for someone in the role that he had been appointed. He’s an adult and his decision is his but I think he heard clearly that there were concerns,” Kashmann said.

According to campaign finance records, eight of 13 sitting Council members accepted campaign contributions from Sherman, who has embedded himself and his firm in Denver politics. Mayor Michael Hancock has received $6,000 over the years.

“I think from the beginning there were a number of us on Council who felt he was a good nomination, and some that didn’t think he fit,” Kashmann said. “In recent weeks there was public discourse that made his appointment seem less appropriate.

Sherman posted on Friday afternoon that he had “crossed a line.”

“As many of you know, I place a high value on our Constitutional Rights, including our freedom of speech, and I am not shy about sharing my opinions in person and on social media. Yesterday, however, I crossed a line and shared a post about my alma mater that was terribly hurtful and insensitive to many people who I value and respect – people I have spent my career working alongside in an effort to build stronger communities.

“The image I posted does not reflect my personal beliefs. In fact, I believe that it is our obligation to create a dialogue and culture where – no matter a person’s background, heritage, political leanings, gender or other identifiers – we have an open and respected space for communicating with one another. In posting that image, I violated my own beliefs and standards. I will not make excuses. I just want to reiterate how very sorry I am for any anger or pain I caused. I can assure it won’t happen again.”

Weird times

Denverite is powered by you. In these weird times, the local vigilance, the local context, the local flavor — it’s powered through your donations. If you’d miss Denverite if it disappeared tomorrow, donate today.

You’re our superpower

Denverite supporters have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.

You’re our superpower

Denverite members have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.