DENVER -- A Colorado coffee chain’s sign appearing to celebrate the gentrification of one of Denver’s historically black neighborhoods sparked a backlash on social media Wednesday afternoon and calls for a boycott.
A sandwich board sign reading “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014” was photographed outside the ink! Coffee location near 29th and Larimer streets. The picture began circulating on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon after being included in a tweet by local writer and event organizer Ru Johnson. (Johnson has contributed to the Denver Post’s Reverb and The Know sections.)
— La Suprema Pistola (@theperfectRu) November 22, 2017
Johnson, who has an office in the neighborhood, said she did not take the photo but saw it on Facebook on Wednesday morning and decided to share it on her Twitter account to bring broader attention to it. She shared a photo of the opposite side of the sign with the Post on Wednesday night. It read, “Nothing says gentrification like being able to order a cortado.”
“My first reaction was, ‘Is this real?’ because it’s just so mind blowing,” said Johnson, noting the sign was ink-branded, not written on a chalkboard or in some other impermanent medium. “Their sign was almost like a poke in the eye for the people who have worked to make the community what it is, and a lot of those people have been pushed out. Who created this sign, sent it to manufacture and put in outside your business?”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also commented on the controversy as it spread through Twitter.
"So disappointing!! Very insensitive and disrespectful!! Who thought this was ok?" Hancock said.
The coffee shop chain released a statement nearly three hours after Johnson had shared the photo through social media, in which the company apologized and asked for forgiveness.
But the apology did not do much to quell the ire of social media users, who are now planning a protest outside the location at 29th and Larimer this Saturday at 1 p.m.
Read the rest from our partners at the Denver Post.