Ink! coffee shop protest about more than a sign

DENVER -- Hundreds of people gathered Saturday for a protest after ink! Coffee's Larimer Street location posted a controversial sign outside its store.

The message "Happily Gentrifying the Neighborhood since 2014," didn't sit well with those who have called the are home for years.

While a sign sparked the conversation, the protest was really about what the group calls the real problem: Gentrification.

“Gentrification has a negative impact around all our communities,” one speaker said.

“I think the sign is symbolic of a problem that we’ve had for a long time," another speaker said.

Most would say the coffee shop on the corner of 29th and Larimer streets is in the heart of RiNo, one of Denver's bustling new neighborhoods.

“RiNo, no. RiNo is a new name,” community activist Justine Sandoval said. “We are in Curtis Park.”

Sandoval said Curtis Park is one of Denver's oldest neighborhoods.

“When you rename our history communities, Highlands, Slo-Hi, Lo-Hi, RiNo, you are defacing our community,” a speaker at the protest said.

“When they use the word gentrification to a communities like ours, it’s a dirty word because it means pushing us out of our communities,” Sandoval said.

The controversy brought part of the community together and sparked a conversation about the effects of Denver's continuous growth.

Ink!'s owner released a statement saying in part he did not "appreciate the very real and troubling issue of gentrification."

The controversial sign was taken down on Wednesday. The building was vandalized the next day.

The store was closed for holiday weekend and set to reopen on Monday. Community members say they'll be there to have their voices heard on Monday as well.