ink! Coffee shop in Denver reopens amid continuing protests over gentrification sign

DENVER – The ink! Coffee shop that sparked controversy with its sign that appeared to celebrate gentrification in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood has reopened for business.

The shop was supposed to reopen after the holiday weekend on Monday but remained closed.

Workers opened the shop to customers at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Hundreds attended a protest over the weekend, upset about a sandwich board posted outside the shop that read, “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”

Protesters once again gathered outside the coffee shop on Tuesday. Protest leader Tay Anderson called on the resignation of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver City Council member Albus Brooks over their responses to the controversy.

"We can't have elected officials who only show up when a camera shows up," Anderson said. "We need them to show up when we are in the streets, right now. I don't see any of them right now with us."

Anderson said he'd like to see the coffee shop close and become a community center where residents can get help with housing and other issues made worse by redevelopment and the rising cost of living.

"We're pushing African-Americans and Latinos out, and we're not giving them affordable housing. Because eleven hundred dollars a month is not affordable," he said. "We need to continue to make our voices heard."

Hancock issued the following statement in response:

“I grew up in these neighborhoods and know first hand how development can offer both promise and disappointment. Ink! Coffee’s advertising was insensitive and disrespectful. I, too, feel the indignation and deep wounds that this has exposed for our community. But protesting an insensitive billboard is just the start, our community is now faced with a galvanizing moment to collect constructive ideas about how we can better blunt the impacts of this aggressive market.
 
This is fundamentally an economic equality challenge for our families and businesses. We’veve been addressing this challenge since 2012 coming out of the Great Recession -- very intentionally in the neighborhoods that are feeling it the most: Globeville, Elyria/Swansea, Five Points, Montbello and on the West Side. We have created more affordable housing, rental and utility assistance and financial support for families -- all to help keep people in their homes.
 
But our work is not done. I encourage the community to now turn their focus to helping shape practical, effective economic mobility actions. There are no easy answers, but I believe this is a chance to have an honest conversation with the community that leads to solutions for our community.”

Ink!’s founder and the advertising firm behind the sign have both since apologized, saying it was “callous, naïve and uninformed” and highlighted a “blind spot” in regard to community concerns about development and its effects on residents.

Staff at the Five Points ink! location directed all further questions to the company’s corporate office.

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