A Black family whose Denver, Colorado, home was defiled with racist graffiti, including the n–word and an image of someone hanged by a noose, aren’t in a hurry to remove the hateful display in hopes that it will spark a larger conversation about racism.
Ken Jenkins, who co-owns the property with Devin Meade, said he first discovered the vandalism on Saturday evening.
“We will have this removed at some point,” Meade told The Denver Post on Tuesday, “but we wanted the community to be able to have a conversation about it and leave it up for a little while.”
“I felt like if I painted over this, it makes everything go quiet and it just kind of fades out like everything else does,” Jenkins chimed in, adding that neighbors have been bringing their kids down to see the vandalism and explaining to them what’s going on.
Jenkins, who’s the father to two young sons, told the newspaper that his children are going “to live with it (racism) at some point” in their lives, adding “they have to learn how to deal with it and what it means.”
In addition to the home, several wooden doors and boards placed in the couple’s front yard were defaced with racist graffiti, local station 9NEWS reported. Jenkins’ boards were meant to block the view of a neighbor across the street with whom he and his wife were having issues.
Denver Police Department’s bias-crime unit is investigating the incident, and officers have offered to remove the graffiti whenever Jenkins and Meade are ready, a department spokesman said. Authorities declined to say if the neighbor dispute was in any way linked to the vandalism.
Although the couple has remained strong in the wake of the racist attack, they admit the experience has left them feeling unnerved and concerned for their safety.
“I don’t feel safe here now,” Jenkins said. “This neighborhood is somewhere I’ve been comfortable for 10 years. I’ve never had anything like this.”
Local resident Jayla Proctor, who sat parked across the street with her son to catch a glimpse at the racist graffiti, agreed, calling the incident “disturbing” and something you would see “in the South — but not here.” Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks said that isn’t the case, however, telling The Denver Post he sees racist incidents like these at least once a month in the area.
“This isn’t an isolated incident,” Brooks said. “This is the world we’re living in.”
Jeff Fard, the founder of Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center in Five Points, likened the couple’s decision to leave up the graffiti to the time “when Emmett Till’s mother decided to have an open casket so people could see her son’s mangled body.”
Till, 14, was kidnapped and lynched by two white men after allegedly whistling at a white woman. His swollen and badly disfigured body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River days later.
“I have to applaud them for their courage to say, ‘Yeah, this was directed at us, but this is a common issue, a societal issue, an issue that this nation has to wrestle with,’” Fard, whose wife was targeted in a similar racist attack, told the newspaper. “This is a form of activism, to put in on a public display. That’s a courageous act.”
Fard has since planned a community gathering for Friday called “Love Beats Hate,” which is intended to foster cross-cultural dialogue between local residents about the incident.
Watch more in the video below.