Letters to the Editor

LETTER: Occupy Denver’s actions at the vigil to honor the homeless were downright uncivil and disrespectful

Dear Editor,

This evening I shed tears three times while attending the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil in front of the Denver City and County Building. For 26 years, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has organized this annual event on the eve before the winter solstice to honor and remember our homeless sisters and brothers who have died on the streets and in the halls of metropolitan Denver. I have participated in this event for as long as I can remember because it is good and proper to honor the lives of those who have come before us and to remind us of our common humanity.

However, this memorial vigil was unlike any that I have experienced before. This evening, a group of Occupy Denver folks stood amongst the sea of candle lights held by people who were there simply to remember those who have died needlessly and to honor their lives. I cried because the Occupy Denver folks could not let go of their anger for a few minutes to allow Mayor Hancock to speak. They shouted profanities, interrupted the speaker and were downright uncivil and disrespectful. At one point, they rushed towards the podium and a number of us provided a nonviolent human shield just in case. I cried because I witnessed first-hand how deeply divided and wounded we are as a people. I cried because the Occupy cause is just but the means demonstrated this evening were not.

One hundred thirty six names of men and women were read, and I cried because these untimely deaths were wrong and could have been prevented if we as a society had gathered the courage and the resources to create homes. I cried a third time with the closing prayer that was sung with such grace and beauty, stilling our hearts and reminding us of our common humanity and love. When the Christmas lights went on with all of their colors and intensity, I regained some my hope.

As a member of the Colorado General Assembly preparing for the 2012 legislative session, my experience this evening reminded me how critically important it will be for us, as elected officials, to exercise leadership by being civil and respectful as we strive to conduct the people’s work. There is work to be done and I for one am weary of all the bickering.


State Rep. John M. Kefalas
D-HD 52
Fort Collins