Colorado History

Reader: Why Not Vote on What Should Stay and What Should Go?

Kit Carson came down on June 26, with some help from city crews.
Kit Carson came down on June 26, with some help from city crews. Evan Semón Photography
On Wednesday night, the Civil War Monument at the Colorado Capitol was toppled. On Thursday night, the statue dedicated to Christopher Columbus at Civic Center Park was knocked over. On Friday, the city didn't wait around to see what might be next: Denver crews removed the figure of Kit Carson that had topped the Pioneer Monument at the edge of Civic Center Park since 1911, taking it away for safekeeping.

A week earlier, after delegates to the Master Community Association of Stapleton voted to change the name of that neighborhood, Mayor Michael Hancock had announced an effort to consider name changes and listen to other complaints from residents. “Our public spaces belong to everyone, and everyone should feel respected in these places," he said on June 19. "Hearing from our community at this pivotal time in our history will ensure that our city’s parks, spaces and places represent our values and the equity and diversity of our city.”

And people have plenty to say, as evidenced by comments posted on our slideshow of Kit Carson coming down. Says Mark: 
The pigeons are the only ones going to notice it gone.
Comments Tim:  
Okay, he was a real bad guy. The generic Civil War soldier and that other sculpture were not worthy of destruction.
Responds Charles:
 That's factually incorrect. WTF are you talking about? He helped map the Western United States and is the reason Oregon and Washington states are part of the United States. He's also the reason we won California in the Mexican American War. He's the greatest military scout in history.
Replies Tim:
Then he betrayed every tribe that showed him those routes. He burned the Navajo nation's ancient peach orchards out of spite. He committed legitimate and documented genocide, so all of that Louis L'Amour fantasy land history is covered in blood.
Suggests Steven:
 Next they'll be digging up Buffalo Bill off of Lookout Mountain...
Adds Peter: 
James W. Denver (city namesake) was Governor of the Kansas territory that had slaves. What will Denver’s new name be?
Comments Jane:
 Maybe they should take all statues down. Someone will have a problem with the rest eventually. Next step: Bubblewrap society.
Counters Ian: 
To all the complete idiots complaining about history: Germany tore down all the Nazi flags and monuments for good reason. They still teach and understand their dark history way better than we do here.
Destroying monuments to hate is not destroying history, but destroying the glorification of the dark sides of our nation's past. Stop hiding behind history.
And then there's this from Rob: 
Why not let the citizens of Colorado vote on what can stay and what should be removed — and if we vote for it to stay, then prosecute the idiots that try to remove it. That is what a democracy is.
If you have suggestions for what names/statues should go, the city's Agency of Human Rights and Community Partnerships advisory board will consider requests made to [email protected], then consult with residents, neighborhood groups and the History Colorado State Historians Council.

What do you think the city/state should do regarding names/buildings/statues honoring people with a checkered  (or worse) past? Post a comment or email your thoughts to [email protected], where we're still collecting proposed names for the Stapleton neighborhood.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.