District 9 City Council Race Takes Nasty Turn After Racist Flier

On May 23, some residents of the Clayton neighborhood found racist fliers on their cars that promote Candi CdeBaca in the District 9 runoff against Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, according to the incumbent.

The flier shows Brooks's face on a cartoon monkey with a banana and includes the lines "Time for this monkey to go!" and "Voto latino #itstime," along with CdeBaca's logo.

It's unclear who produced the flier, but the CdeBaca campaign denies any connection to it. Strongly.

Brooks turned over one of the fliers to the Denver Police Department for a bias-motivated crime investigation; the initial police report notes that the flier was reportedly found in the 2800 block of East 37th Avenue.

"It’s disgusting, and it has no place in our community," Brooks says. "I’m just disappointed, and it’s so much bigger than a campaign. It’s something that I, as a black elected official, have faced several times. I just want to continue to call out hate and show that we’re going to continue to live and pursue leadership and love."

click to enlarge The disputed flier: Who really produced it? - ALBUS BROOKS
The disputed flier: Who really produced it?
Albus Brooks

After Brooks shared a photo of the flier on Facebook, CdeBaca responded: "This is a pretty pathetic grasp at straws. Low even for you considering you know my family is biracial. Someone who knows me or our campaign very clearly knows this would never come from our camp but nice try. This feels more in alignment with what you are doing. Unlike you, I have stuck to the facts and reality. Try again. Our supporters know better and if this is the best your camp can do to activate your supporters, good luck and godspeed to you."

Brooks was quick to rebuke CdeBaca's Facebook response: "It’s pretty telling and hurtful that she would go to anger and blaming instead of making sure that the victim in this, me, [hears] 'Hey, we denounce this in our community immediately. Sorry that Albus had to experience this.'....I did this when she was under attack for being accused of being a communist by conservatives. It’s just disappointing," Brooks says.

Gloria Neal, who works in Mayor Michael Hancock's office, shared the flier on her social-media page and initially insinuated that someone from CdeBaca's campaign knew about it, writing: "This is NOT okay! Who in her campaign approved this? How did this happen Candi CdeBaca? #BeyondOffended????" She later edited the post to say: "Albus. Keep ya head up! And that’s where you need to keep your campaign!#UP."

Hancock and Brooks are vocal supporters of each other's campaign.

CdeBaca also responded to Neal's post. "Nice try but the race baiting doesn't work with me. Please remove this post as it is clearly not from my campaign and coming from someone who knows nothing about me. My family is a multiracial family and to post something this ridiculous knowing my mom, dad, and wifey are black is offensive to ME! Remove this photo and give me a call if you are actually interested in telling me where this trash came from. P.S. I do my OWN graphic design and I wouldn't produce a low quality piece of trash like this in my sleep or drunk!"

Brooks earned 44.75 percent of votes in the District 9 race, and CdeBaca earned 43.06 percent on May 7. All ballots for the runoff election are due June 4.

Update: This story was updated on May 25 to include information about the police report. It had previously been updated to include a statement that CdeBaca sent after the piece was first published, shown below in its entirety:

Let me be VERY clear. The flyer did not come from our campaign. I fully and with the strongest of meanings denounce this flyer, the hate behind it, and whoever created it.

Whoever made it clearly doesn't know me nor anything about my campaign. My family is black and this is incredibly offensive not only to my opponent but to me and my entire family.

I have run a positive, visionary, solutions-oriented campaign, I will continue to run my campaign in that fashion and I denounce anyone who chooses a divisive route in a time where vision and unity are what matters most.

To my supporters: I highly doubt anyone who believes in our message and vision for Denver or the work I've dedicated myself to would create this, but I know campaigns attract a wide breadth of support, sometimes from unknown sources.

If you consider yourself a supporter but created and/or distributed this, you are in fact, NOT a supporter. This vile and racist rhetoric has NO place in this campaign, in District 9, or in Denver. Again, I denounce this flyer, the hate behind it, and whoever created it.

My track record speaks for itself. I believe in broad coalitions working across differences to build a better reality for all of us. I confront many of the -isms on a daily basis in my personal life and I have made a commitment to doing it in my professional life by teaching others to decolonize their minds and our communities. I challenge everyone paying attention to these races to see past the same old tricks that are always used to divide us. I stand firmly that we need to uplift the marginalized voices in our city, grow responsibly so that all people can afford to live in our city, build people-centered solutions that give us power to shape our communities, and most importantly build a government that is accountable to us and that we can trust.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.