Aurora lawmakers spar over Councilmember Coombs’ Facebook post, police hazard pay

3766

AURORA | A Facebook post shared by Aurora City Councilperson Alison Coombs garnered dozens of public comments, both in support and in outrage, during Monday’s city council meeting.

“F*ck Pride. It’s Wrath Month,” the post Coombs shared on her personal page said. “No Cops. No KKK. No Racist USA. All Lives Don’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter. We’re Here, We’re Queer, And We’re F*cking Angry For Our Black Siblings.” 

Screen shot from a Facebook media post by Councilperson Alison Coombs. The post was the subject of fiery controversy at the June 23 city council meeting The post has since been deleted.

The Facebook post, which has since been deleted, quickly made the rounds around social media over the weekend, raising eyebrows of conservative political bloggers and attracting coverage from TV news reporters. 

Coombs, the council’s first openly LGBTQ member in city history, said the post was intended to be a show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement during Pride Month. “No cops. No KKK. No Racist USA,” has been a staple chant at marches across the country in recent weeks. 

Instead, many who sent in their comments of disapproval for the shared post said the language likened Aurora cops to KKK members. 

Coombs said during the meeting she’s received nasty messages, including death threats, over the post, but won’t be deterred for standing up for vulnerable or marginalized communities. 

While the shared post divided the council — Councilperson Dave Gruber said the post was “absolutely disgusting” — Mayor Mike Coffman simply encouraged all council members to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful to the office they hold.

At the end of the meeting, during council comments, Gruber pressed that the dozens who sent comments in support of Coombs were organized by the Arapahoe Democratic Party, while Council Members Allison Hiltz and Crystal Murillo pointed to the police department’s bargaining union, Aurora FOP Lodge 49, as the force behind the objecting comments.

A deleted Facebook post from the union linking to Coombs’ post said “This is a definite slap in the face to all officers, dispatchers, victim advocates, and other personnel, who continue to work incredibly hard building strong partnerships and doing what is necessary to bring a sense of healing to Aurora’s many beautifully diverse communities.”

“…I’m sure she would like to know how you support your LE (law enforcement) community,” the union post ended.

In the shadow of the controversial Facebook post, city council members approved a final member of the Aurora Police Community Task Force. Candice Bailey, a police reform advocate who Murillo said she supported because of her work in the criminal justice sphere and recent efforts in police reform at the state level.

The local lawmakers also formally approved hazard pay for Aurora police officers and firefighters. Gruber was the sole member to vote against the measure, saying only six officers contracting the virus demonstrated that first responders did not encounter any hazard.

“These folks can’t work from home. They can’t call in sick or go to their basement office. They have to be on the front lines every day,” said Councilperson Curtis Gardner, who sponsored the item.

The hazard pay will be funded by federal CARES Act money, not out of city coffers.

“There’s not a magic number in testing positive for there to be a hazard,” Gardner said.