Stapleton name change in motion after anti-racism demonstrations in Denver

The neighborhood’s community delegates will begin the process this week, but it requires cooperation from the city and developer Brookfield.

Stapleton, Aug. 29, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Stapleton, Aug. 29, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Stapleton may drop its neighborhood name after ongoing anti-racism demonstrations — and a day after school board member Tay Anderson vowed to protest in the northeast neighborhood if the community didn’t make a change.

The Master Community Association, which oversees the maintenance and operation of the neighborhood’s public spaces, said in a Facebook statement on Sunday they would begin the process to remove the Stapleton name. Discussions about changing the northeast Denver neighborhood’s name have been ongoing for years. The neighborhood shares its name with former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

“It has become more clear that continuing with the current name is hurtful to many residents of all backgrounds and life experiences,” the MCA’s statement read. “As a community that aims to foster inclusivity, diversity and respect, maintaining the current name only serves to divide us.”

The name change was first reported by the Denver Post. The change — which some have fought for over many years — marks the latest cultural shift prompted by demonstrations against racism sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody. Last week, a police reform bill was passed by the General Assembly while Denver police recently announced policy changes for their use of force.

Councilmember Chris Herndon, whose district includes the Stapleton neighborhood, said in a statement on Sunday that he has asked Mayor Michael Hancock’s office to remove Stapleton “as the neighborhood identifier from City systems moving forward.”

“This community is demonstrating that it is ready to change its name and we as a city are fully prepared to support that change,” Herndon said in the statement. “I am encouraged to see the neighborhood coming together to work toward creating significant, lasting change. I hope this step will be a first and not a last on the path toward practicing our values and ideals more fully.”

Stapleton resident Liz Stalnaker said efforts to rename the neighborhood had resurfaced over the past few weeks.  It started with several Stapleton-based Facebook groups changing their names and has now culminated with the group Stalnaker’s associated with, Rename St*pleton for ALL, restarting an online petition to change the neighborhood’s name.

“So many of us are just living online right now, so most of what has happened is going on online,” Stalnaker said.

The renewed calls came almost a year after property owners in Stapleton began to vote on whether to change the neighborhood’s name. Of the 35 percent of property owners who voted, 65 percent voted against the name change, though the process was criticized by the group seeking to change its name. People who rent in the neighborhood were excluded from the vote.

The MCA and its 11 community delegates will meet on Wednesday to begin the process of removing the neighborhood’s name. The delegates will recommend among several things sending a resolution to Denver City Council and Brookfield, the community’s developer, requesting the neighborhood’s name be replaced.

Clarification: Due to an editor’s error, the percentage of property owners in Stapleton who were against the name change was mischaracterized. Thirty-five percent of the eligible voters cast ballots. 


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