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Ministers protest Hickenlooper for ‘sexualizing’ Hancock

DENVER — A group of African-American church leaders want Gov. John Hickenlooper to apologize for a racy joke he made Tuesday when introducing Mayor Michael Hancock at a luncheon.

Hickenlooper’s remark about Hancock’s wife, an accomplished singer, performing for him in the shower, marked the second time in a week that sexual innuendo — seemingly inadvertently — found its way into an off-the-cuff comment.

On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Timothy E. Tyler and a group of church members and community residents took a letter to Hickenlooper’s office at the Capitol demanding a public apology.

“I urge you to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for your inappropriate remarks regarding Denver’s newly-elected African-American mayor,” Tyler said, reading the letter aloud outside Hickenlooper’s office. “It is absolutely critical that you cease making sexually inappropriate comments.

“I am sure I do not need to remind you of this country’s longstanding and ugly history of sexualizing people of color.”

Hickenlooper wasn’t there to greet them. He’s in Houston today, according to spokesman Eric Brown.

“We appreciate the concerns voiced by the pastors,” Brown said following the protest. “Of course, the governor didn’t intend anything bad toward Mayor Hancock or Mary Louise. He simply put his foot in his mouth.”

Hickenlooper apologized to Hancock and his wife, Mary Louise Lee, according to Brown and Hancock’s press secretary Amber Miller.

“Mayor Hancock and First Lady Mary Louise Lee completely understand Gov. Hickenlooper’s comments were an honest mistake,” said Miller.

“Of course the Gov. personally apologized to the Mayor and First Lady, and we’re all carrying on with the business of the City.”