Stapleton name change won’t happen overnight

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DENVER (KDVR) — The sky-blue sign that sits outside the Founders’ Green was stripped of a brown “Stapleton” logo overnight in northeast Denver.

But just because the sign was changed overnight, doesn’t mean the process of changing the neighborhood’s name will be as quick or easy.

Calls to remove and replace the neighborhood’s name escalated over the weekend in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The airport turned neighborhood is named after Denver Mayor, and Ku Klux Klan member, Benjamin Stapleton.

“Having these public spaces bear the name of a clan member was unacceptable to us, and that was Denver’s monument to white supremacy,” said Liz Stalnaker with the Renaming St*pleton group.

Over the years, there have been several attempts to rename the area, but with the current climate towards social justice reform, the neighborhood’s Master Community Association announced delegates will meet Wednesday to begin the process of removing the name.

The MCA’s Executive Director, Kevin Burnett, tells the Problem Solvers delegates serve as a working group for the board, and can motion for a special board meeting to take place.

Once that meeting is set, the board can vote on removing the name, branding, marketing and signage.

But changing the name isn’t done with a simple vote, and it isn’t free.

Burnett says the community input process for finding a new name, plus consulting fees, graphic design, marketing, new signage, buying a new website and other branding could cost roughly $300,000.

Stapleton’s MCA is a non-profit, and is funded by things like property assessments and special district taxes.

Some residents believe that money could be used elsewhere for social justice causes.

“So those folks who are in Montbello and don’t know where their next meal is coming from, they look at us living over here in Stapleton and their like ‘Really?’” Said Stapleton resident Chris Nelson. “I’d rather that money go to folks who need it, than a bunch of self-righteous folks who think that a name change is gonna actually stop systemic racism.”

Nelson says the process is being rushed, and the symbolic change won’t translate to the change that needs to happen to help minority communities in Denver.

“Who knows what the names gonna be. You know what the funny part is? People are still gonna call it Stapleton,” Nelson said. “Let’s sit down and make some real concrete change. If we don’t do that, we’re gonna look back and say we missed the moment, and I don’t want to do that.”

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