Protest planned against ink! Coffee continues to grow after controversial gentrification sign

DENVER - The crowd planning to attend a protest planned outside ink! Coffee in Denver continued to grow Friday night ahead of the event scheduled for Saturday.

The protest was planned in response to a controversial sign the company posted outside of its Five Points location that read, "Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014."

As of Friday evening, almost 600 people RSVPed online for the protest and another almost 3,000 said they were interested in attending.

According to Merriam-Webster, gentrification is defined as "the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents."

Gentrification has become a hot button issue in Denver's Five Points neighborhood. Denver City Council's President Albus Brooks responded to the company's sign on Facebook Friday calling it a "huge failure."

"Folks are feeling like their community has changed and they are no longer welcome in this community. It’s a huge backlash," said Brooks.

He suggested people support local coffee and tea shops in the Five Points area. He also offered suggestions to ink! Coffee's owner.

"There needs to be some cultural competency training for his staff. They need to be looking at folks from the neighborhood and hiring. They need to be investing in neighborhood opportunities," said Brooks.

The owner has publicly apologized for the sign. He has not responded to FOX31's requests for an interview.

The coffee shop's ad agency, Cultivator Advertising & Design, posted an apology of its own to its Facebook page on Thanksgiving Day. It reads in part, "In hindsight, our campaign was callous, naive and uninformed to the true character of the neighborhood and to those who have long called it home. We assure those within the local community and throughout Denver that the literal contents of the sign do not represent the values we hold as an agency or as individuals." The ad agency said it developed the campaign.

The protest is planned for 1 p.m. in front of ink! Coffee's location on Larimer Street.