NewsCovering Colorado


Race relations: A community conversation

Recent vandalism sparks conversation about racism
Posted at 11:13 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 01:13:34-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — There have been ongoing repercussions from a grand jury decision that found the deadly officer-involved shooting of De'Von Bailey was justified, which continues to spark protest, and most recently, criminal activity to try and make a point.

On Tuesday, the City of Colorado Springs woke up to see the new welcome sign vandalized, part of which read Bailey's name. News 5 spoke with a professor who said long before the shooting of Bailey, there have been underlying racial issues in the city. "There are individuals who think that the city does not embrace their communities of color, particularly African-American and Latino youth," said Stephany Rose Spaulding, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Spaulding also said the city needs to have a conversation about racism and how it impacts everyone in the community. "Actually have conversations with people in their communities, not necessarily bringing them to a state of the city address, but sitting with them, in their communities, listening and learning what their concerns are," said Spaulding.

It's a concept Councilmember Yolanda Avila agrees with, and she wants to see people express their opinions at City Hall. "Racism is systemic throughout the nation... We are all one, and what happens to someone in Southeast hurts someone in Northwest," said Avila.

Those with the Colorado Springs Police Department said vandalism is not the way to express an opinion. "Any type of criminal activity or vandalism is just not acceptable, and there's no reason to do that, it doesn't help anybody," said Lieutenant Jim Sokolik.

However, Lt. Sokolik did say CSPD is proud of the protests. "That's a first amendment right, that's a very American right, and we're here to protect the right to do that," said Lt. Sokolik.

At the end of the day, Lt. Sokolik said those with CSPD are part of the community too. "There's no room for racism in the police department. What we do is not based upon somebody's race, it's not based upon their socioeconomic status, it's not based on their religion. When you call for the police, we're going to come and assist you," said Lt. Sokolik.

Spaulding said the responsibility lies with our city leaders to reach out to these communities, give them a seat at the table, and allow them to have a platform for an open and honest discussion about racism.