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Searches for definition of ‘gentrify’ spike by 2,500 percent after controversial coffee shop sign

DENVER — The recent protests of a local ink! Coffee shop were sparked by a single word: Gentrify.

After the protests and media coverage of the sign, people have flocked to the web to figure out what the word and its derivatives mean.

The sign that incited resentment and outrage in the Five Points neighborhood read, “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”

Neighbors in the area took issue with the meaning and caused a huge spike in people looking for the definition.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, searches for the words “gentrification” and “gentrify” surged by 2,500 percent after the tone-deaf joke that used the word.

Merriam-Webster defines gentrification as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

The idea is a hot-button issue in rapidly evolving and growing Denver communities.

Five Points has long been considered one of the poorer parts of the city, and new businesses encroaching on that neighborhood and many others has rattled lifelong residents.

The ink! Coffee shop at 29th and Larimer streets was scheduled to reopen Monday, but after protests and vandalism of the building, the doors remain closed.