Photos: Jenny Kush, pot activist, remembered at moving (and loud) candlelight vigil
Westword cover story subject Jenny Kush's favorite color was purple.
So it was only fitting that her friends and family -- draped in purple T-shirts -- gathered last night to remember Kush, a cannabis activist killed by a drunk driver, by the purple flowers on the west steps of the State Capitol while a perfect Colorado sunset created pink-purple clouds over the purple Rocky Mountains in the distance. Get more details and see photos of the memorial event below.
People were still trickling in after 6 p.m., the scheduled start of the memorial. But by the time the sun had set and candles were being lit, more than sixty people were on hand. Those who didn't have any purple bought up T-shirts with Kush's now-iconic angel printed on the front, with all the money going to the four children she left behind after dying in a crash on Labor Day weekend.
Shirts for sale to benefit Kush's family.
For the most part, the event was unscripted. Joints and pipes were passed around between friends milling around near the Civil War statue and reminiscing about time spent with Jenny. Kush's parents, in town from Montana, met a seemingly endless stream of her friends with hugs and handshakes.
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Around 7:20, the music on the PA system faded out and Kush's boyfriend, Jeremy DePinto, spoke to the crowd.
"Thank you for coming out tonight," he said. "I've never done a candlelight vigil before. What I do know and what I have learned is that these things usually have moments of silence. So we'll do one of those. But, because it was Jenny -- and for those of you who knew her, and if you're here you obviously knew her -- she would want us to be loud.
"They did something up in Washington for her, by screaming for a few seconds and it was a great tribute," he went on. "We're in downtown Denver. We can be heard for a long, long ways. Jenny would want that, because Jenny was heard for a long ways. Whether it was in person or on the Internet or wherever it was. There were newspaper reports out of Germany, out of New York, out of the United Kington and many others. She would want that, too. I know it might be hard to scream. But think of things that make you frustrated or that make you happy. Build it up and let it out, if even for a couple of seconds. She would appreciate that. Tonight, we are just going to wing it, like we usually do. That's how Jenny and me roll.
Jenny's iconic angel.
"We chose here for a multitude of reasons," he pointed out. "We have done a lot of activism here. One of my favorite recent stories to tell is about the southbound-lane of Broadway over there. One night during Occupy, Jenny and I sat down in that street and turned an entire line of cop cars around. They were driving one way. The wrong way. It's a proud moment. You don't think about those things when it's happening. You just try and do what is right. Ironically, we were trying to stop people from driving the wrong way. This is one of Jenny's stomping grounds, because it matters." Continue for more about last night's memorial for Jenny Kush, including additional photos.
A reminder of Jenny on a joint case.
Several other people spoke at the memorial, often directing their comments to Kush's family. Activist Miguel Lopez recounted how Kush was at the Capitol on the last Saturday of every month to protest cannabis prohibition, whether it was 100 degrees outside or ten below. Paul Garret, former owner of Mad Hatter Smoke Shop, teared up several times while speaking.
"She was definitely the most selfless person I've ever met," Garret said before pausing to catch his breath. "And I think it shows how far her love spread with how many people keep showing up to these events. How many people keep making donations to help her kids and their future."
Others told of how Kush directly affected their lives. Medical marijuana patient Dina Martinez credits Kush with saving her.
"I met Jenny here," Martinez said. "Right down there in the grass with Jeremy -- and I came into this community very sick and very broken. Please know that your mother saved my life. Not kind of, but literally walked into my home and helped me get out of bed. She taught me how to be an activist. Showed me that I can have a voice. She showed me that I could do it by doing it with me."
At DePinto's request, the moment of loudness wrapped things up with whoops and yells that echoed blocks away through Capitol Hill. Continue for more about last night's memorial for Jenny Kush, including additional photos.
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