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Activists gather for Stapleton name change community meeting

DENVER -- Activists continued their push to change the name of Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood on Monday.

The community is the site of the former Stapleton International Airport and is named after the late Benjamin Stapleton, a longtime Denver mayor and a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Those wanting the name change said its time to stop honoring a man who embraced racism.

The primary airport that served Denver from 1929 to 1995 was named in his honor.

When the airport was demolished, people living on Denver’s northeast side said they were told the new neighborhood would have a new name.

“This is a long time coming,” organizer Genevieve Swift said. “The name should’ve never been used.”

Swift and others are continuing to encourage businesses and other organizations to drop the Stapleton branding while also working with the city to do the same for the entire neighborhood.

“Coming together, as a whole, as a community -- to come together as one -- that’s awesome,” an area business owner at a community meeting said.

The meeting Monday night at the Stanley Marketplace served to remind people of Stapleton’s strong connections to the Ku Klux Klan, among other things.

Stapleton, who died in 1950, was Denver’s mayor from 1923 to 1931 and again from 1935 to 1947.

“We don’t feel that he should be honored,” Swift said.

Activists are calling on city council members to vote on a name change to help put an end to the negative emotional response the name creates for some.

Critics point out Stapleton wasn’t the only politician involved in the KKK decades ago.

They also point to his leadership in the creation of the Denver Civic Center and the acquisition of Red Rocks Amphitheatre. But his KKK association has overshadowed his legacy.

“It’s very important to change the name because it is symbolic violence,” Swift said.

No people were vocally opposed to name change at the meeting.