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Their Community's Name Is for a KKK Member. They Voted to Keep It

'Stapleton' sticks following referendum vote in Denver
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2019 10:55 AM CDT
The former Stapleton International Airport is shown here.   (Wikimedia)

(Newser) – A Denver neighborhood named for a former Ku Klux Klan member is sticking by its moniker. About a third of property owners in Stapleton—named for former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton—voted in a referendum, with 65% in favor of keeping the name, reports CNN. Liz Stalnaker of community group Rename St*pleton for All said she was disappointed in the decision as "removing the name Stapleton from places of honor in Denver is one small, visible way of making amends." The five-term mayor, who governed beginning in the 1920s, wasn't shy about his Klan membership. Indeed, the KKK "provided the manpower and money that helped get him elected and he in turn appointed members of the KKK to various political positions," says historian William Wei, describing a time when the Klan held regular demonstrations in the city while terrorizing minorities.

Keven Burnett of the Master Community Association says residents of the "forward-thinking diverse community" fondly recall Stapleton International Airport, which closed in 1995, rather than Stapleton himself. "The name is about ... a look back at the economic engine of the area for decades," he says. "There's not one statue of Ben Stapleton." CBS Denver reports racist graffiti appeared at a Stapleton park last week, leaving some residents fearful, though it was quickly replaced with loving messages. Stalnaker says she'll continue to push for a name change, which will need approval from a majority of all property owners after 2021. In a Monday statement, Rename St*pleton for All said it had advocated for a delay in voting as "more conversations to promote understanding and community outreach on the issue should have occurred," per CBS. (Read more Colorado stories.)

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