Letters to the Editor

From the week of August 8, 2002

My question is this: How did this happen in my neighborhood? Is Gregory Wolfe, owner of Small Gatherings, so greedy that he will rent his building to anyone for any purpose? He stated that he vehemently disagreed with the skinheads but believed they had a right to "freely express" themselves. Did it not occur to Mr. Wolfe that as the owner, he had no obligation to rent to the skinheads? Since he stated that he would have "thought differently if 50 or 100 counter-demonstrators were going to be chanting outside," Mr. Wolfe made his decision on greed. Mr. Wolfe also stated that they were "good clients" and that he would rent to them again.

Mr. Wolfe, do you base all of your business decisions on public opinion? What happened to your moral compass? Two other groups in Denver (apparently people with moral convictions), said no to the Heritage Fest organizers when approached to rent their venues. Mr. Wolfe, I urge you to think about your actions and consequences to our community before renting to another hate group.

Name withheld on request

The rights stuff: I was rather surprised when an elderly gentleman stopped by this afternoon to hand me a copy of the July 25 issue. In a loud voice peppered with swear words, he let me know how stressed he was that I had rented space for the "skinhead" event. His residence is only three blocks away, and after reading your article, visiting the local chamber of commerce, the City of Arvada and area ARMs (an association of religious groups), he was on his way to a nearby Presbyterian church to share his stress and to combat my presence in the community.

He was not interested in hearing about my participation on local panel television shows as a youth, my efforts on behalf of minorities and civil rights as an adult, or the thousand-plus events we host each year: Spanish-speaking Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, a modest number of Protestants -- including nine small churches - and a variety of ethnic groups who prefer our halls because they feel more comfortable here. Nor did he want to hear that our chef is Jewish, or that a daughter-in-law is Hindu/Buddhist. In fact, he did not want to discuss anything with me since the "skinheads" were a hate group opposed to others having rights and being present in our country, and he certainly felt that was wrong and un-American.

There is at least a modest effort to "close us down," since we found two copies of a Boycott Notice attached to the front of our building with a very strong and ugly layer of broadly applied adhesive this morning. As a retired Army lieutenant colonel, I am offended that someone in the community feels that after I have stood ready for thirty years to protect our country, my business should now be boycotted because I continue to stand up for the rights that our country represents. It is obvious to me that this person or these persons do not understand that everyone has those rights in our country whether we agree with them or not. It is also obvious that they do not adhere to the laws of our community, since our building was vandalized and we were slandered by being declared Nazis because we honor the rights of others.

While David Holthouse had an unpleasant experience with police officers in Denver, the five Arvada police officers who came to our site just prior to the concert conducted themselves in a professional and appropriate manner. They made it clear that they would be available and ready to deal with any illegal activities of the "skinheads" or demonstrators who might come into the community, but they were not there to close down the event or to harass the participants. They did not ask if I supported or disagreed with the "skinheads" or if I liked rock music, which I do not.

In conclusion, I need to revise the part of the article that reads: "Wolfe says he would rent to them again." Given the possibility that a local citizen would put a brick through one of our windows or that a demonstrator from outside the community would come and do harm to our property or guests, it is unlikely that I would take the same risk in the future -- regardless of how much I favor all citizens having and being able to exercise their rights.

Gregory Wolfe
Small Gatherings

David Holthouse responds: To answer two of this week's letter writers, I went undercover because doing so afforded me the best chance of getting the best story. In the weeks leading up to Rocky Mountain Heritage Fest, I'd learned the Midland Hammerskins would be running security, and I'd read the following on their Web site's Frequently Asked Questions: "Does MHS speak to news reporters? No. The Media, Law Enforcement and the Judicial System have conspired many times to railroad White Separatists, and until these atrocities end we will continue to turn out backs on all of them." Frankly, I think I might have been the guest of honor at a surprise boot party had I shown up at a checkpoint with long hair, flashed my Colorado press card and inquired of the Hammerskins, "Hey, dudes, where's the party?"

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