Concerts may be canceled, but some of Denver's biggest musicians are planning to play on, this time at a protest tonight, July 20, in Greenwood Village, in an attempt to persuade that town to overturn its new policy protecting police officers from financial liability in civil cases, even if they acted illegally or in bad faith.
That resolution, approved unanimously two weeks ago by the Greenwood Village City Council, was a response to the new state police-reform law that would hold officers accountable for up to $25,000 in misconduct cases.
Over the weekend, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, the Lumineers, Spirit of Grace and Flobots announced a boycott against Greenwood Village and the largest venue in it, Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, which is owned by the Museum of Outdoor Arts, an Englewood-based nonprofit. (Read the full letter here.)
Even Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone came out in support of the petition at a July 19 press conference. "So the fact that we have some of the best musicians in the world located in Denver taking that stance to boycott Fiddler’s Green in Greenwood Village and support the Black Lives Matter movement, I think is outstanding,” he said.
At 7:30 p.m. tonight, under the hashtag #LiveMusicforBlackLives, the Lumineers and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats plan to join Representative Leslie Herod and protesters outside the Greenwood Village City Hall, at 6060 South Quebec Street. The event is being billed as a march and play-in; organizers hope the bands will draw their fans, who'll join the musicians in expressing outrage at the city's new policy.
The Lumineers made Fiddler's Green history back in 2017 when the act sold out three consecutive nights at the 18,000-capacity venue.
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"Fiddler’s Green is one of the largest sales tax-generating establishments in Greenwood Village," bandmembers Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites note in a statement. "Artists and fans should not be forced to financially support a City government that has established such racist policies to perform in Colorado or see their favorite artists perform locally. In fact, no one should."
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Rateliff, who's played annual stands at Red Rocks Amphitheatre the past few years, was in talks about booking a Fiddler's Green show. Unless Greenwood Village flips its policy, that's off the table.
"We support the Black Lives Matter movement and were so proud to see Colorado lead the nation in implementing police reform last month by passing Senate Bill 217 with a huge bipartisan majority," wrote Rateliff in a letter to the mayor and city council of Greenwood Village. "We were appalled last week to learn that the City of Greenwood Village, CO passed a resolution to undermine the applicability of SB20-217 within its community...[t]he new resolution shockingly predetermined all future police abuse as justified to further shield bad officers from enforcement mechanisms created within SB20-217. Recently we have discussed plans to play at Fiddler’s Green; we write to you today to publicly announce that we will not play music there until Greenwood Village rescinds its recent resolution permitting police to act without accountability."
Neither Greenwood Village nor AEG Presents Rocky Mountains, which books shows at Fiddler's Green (at least when the industry isn't decimated by a global pandemic), responded to requests for comment on the boycott. The Museum of Outdoor Arts declined to comment on the Greenwood Village resolution.
“The passage of Senate Bill 217 in Colorado was a watershed moment for our state in the decades-long struggle for the most basic of civil rights: the right to not be murdered by our own police officers because of the color of our skin," Herod says in a statement. "Greenwood Village’s terrible decision to short-circuit police accountability means that Black people, and for that matter anyone who comes into contact with their armed municipal security forces, are not safe. As long as Resolution 40-20 is the law in Greenwood Village, it would be dangerously irresponsible to hold, attend, or promote any event at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater located in their city.”