The ‘March and Play for Justice’ protest was the second protest outside Greenwood Village Town Hall since council sought to undermine the state’s new accountability laws by deciding never to find its officers acting in bad faith in interactions with residents. After the resolution was passed on July 6, more than 100 protesters took to the streets despite using a city snow plow to block street access to the town hall parking lot.
Between Rateliff’s hit “Say it Louder” and Schultz’s cover of Bruce Springsteen, Senator Jeff Bridges took the microphone. Bridges, who lives in Greenwood Village, said his first gig was in Greenwood Village, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, but that he will not return until City Council overturns his resolution.
“Our officers must be exemplary and not exempt,” said Bridges.
Just after 9 p.m., after more music from the Brothers of Brass marching band, the gathered crowd set off for a march towards the amphitheater. Tay Anderson of the Denver School Board helped lead the protest, with the Police Reform Bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.
“Do your job,” he called. “Obey the law,” replied the crowd.
Senate Bill 217 was drafted and passed this spring following protests against the police assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the deaths of other unarmed blacks, including Elijah McClain of Aurora’s last fall. Nathaniel Rateliff and Night Sweats, The Lumineers, Flobots and DeVotchKa, as well as gospel band Spirit of Grace and artists Erica Brown and Andrea Marchant all took part in Monday night’s protest.
“Live performances at Fiddler’s Green are a major source of income for the Town of Greenwood Village,” the petition reads. “Because city council does not understand why it is imperative – from a civil rights and security perspective – to obey our statewide laws, we hope they will understand why it is also a economic imperative that we artists and fans now refuse to spend our money in Greenwood Village.
For residents with long memories, the protests recall the boycott of Colorado in the early ’90s by touring musicians such as Madonna and Elton John, the result of Amendment 2, a nationwide voting initiative. State which was passed with a small margin in 1992. and forbidden Colorado to enact anti-discrimination protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
The United States Supreme Court overturned the amendment in 1995 because it was unconstitutional, but his three-year reign cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue from concerts, conventions and other cases, according to historians and reports.
“Amendment 2 is possibly the biggest public relations disaster to ever hit Colorado,” the Denver Post reported at the time.
Retaining performance, and therefore income, is just the starting point, musicians say. If the resolve doesn’t go away, the goal is to erode the prestige once associated with Fiddler’s Green – as well as brand it as being located in a city dangerous to people of color.
“In general, it’s an artist’s ability that most people don’t have,” said Storm Gloor, associate professor of Music and Entertainment Industry Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver. ” If I had to take a stand on something, I wouldn’t have much to negotiate personally. But artists do.
That’s the point, of course, to put together platinum selling acts like The Lumineers, whose singer – Schultz – provided one of the most popular names at Monday night’s event. Their voices give the message a different tenor, said Leslie Herod, the Denver Democrat who chairs the state’s Black Democratic Legislative Caucus and hosted the event.
“Nathaniel and his group were the first to sign up on board – and I mean within hours,” she says. “But of course bands like Flobots have always been there. It’s not just a time for Colorado artists, but a movement. It’s not just about the responsibility of the police, but how we present ourselves in life and respect the lives of black people, period. (These artists) are willing to put their livelihood on the line for the lives of black people, and that cannot be underestimated. ”
Mega-promoter AEG Presents, whose Rocky Mountain office delivers Fiddler’s Green and virtually controls the regional touring scene, also released a statement in support of the event Monday night.
“AEG Presents and the Museum of Outdoor Arts, the non-profit organization that owns Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, are coming together to support Black Lives Matter and against social and racial injustice. We also support all the artists who have come forward to lend their voice to progress, both locally and nationally ”, we read. “AEG Presents, as a music company that operates a venue in Greenwood Village and works closely with its police department, has a unique perspective and connections on this issue. We have already reached out to key voices on both sides with the intention of bringing all parties together for a constructive dialogue and resolution.
Singer Lerea Edwards performed at the event with her gospel band, Spirit of Grace.
“I’m happy to see the musicians standing up for this, but there are so many others who have been marginalized over the years and who don’t have that voice,” Edwards said. “From what I’ve seen, the music community is united in this area, and if you can’t love one of us, you can’t love any of us. “Edwards, who is Black, said she participated because she didn’t feel safe inviting her family to Greenwood Village to see them play, something she has done statewide with acts ranging from acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Colorado pop act OneRepublic. .
“We have tried to hold the police accountable by being silent, by prayer, by peaceful protests,” she said. “All these different ways to try to have equal civil rights. And nothing. “
Wesley Schultz from @thelumineers covering “My City of Ruins” by Springsteen. Vid doesn’t capture the refrain of “Come on, get up.” »Pic.twitter.com/BTy9mWxTOR
– Joe Rubino (@RubinoJC) 21 juillet 2020
The goal of Monday’s event, and other recent protests, is not to demolish the city, Senator Bridges said. This is to show how many people disagree with the city council.
“The Senate Police Accountability Bill 217 is one of the most significant anti-racist bills in the history of the state, and it was passed unanimously with bipartisan support,” did he declare. “To say that parts of it don’t apply to the city I live in undermines the bill and sends a very dangerous message to communities of color.”
Colorado musicians using their star power to draw attention to the Greenwood Village resolution put additional pressure on city council, he said.
“These musicians bring with them huge fans and media attention,” said Bridges. “It was already getting some attention, but nothing like the one we have now.”