AURORA | Following the shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs that killed five and injured dozens, Aurora’s City Council voted to formally condemn hate crimes against the LGBTQ community and encourage other municipalities to follow suit.
“This is not the first shooting targeting safe spaces in the LGBTQIA community, but this one does hit close to home,” council sponsor Crystal Murillo said. “That’s a very fear-inducing and traumatizing event for anyone, but there’s an increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and as a city, I think it is our job to help make people feel safe in our city.”
Members voted unanimously to pass the resolution, after Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky said she would prefer to vote on a resolution that did not focus on the LGBTQ community but instead addressed hate crimes in general.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a mosque that’s attacked, if it’s a synagogue that’s attacked, if it’s an LGBTQ nightclub attacked, it affects everyone,” she said. “Hate is hate, and I guess my issue with this is that it talks about hate solely committed against one group, and … I guess I just wish and would like to see that we condemn hate and we condemn hate crimes against people, against people in the city of Aurora and everywhere.”
Anderson Lee Aldrich has been charged with five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing injury as well as five counts of murder in connection with the Nov. 23 shooting at Club Q
While Aldrich’s attorneys have described the suspect as nonbinary and asked that Aldrich be referred to using gender-neutral pronouns, national news outlets have quoted neighbors saying Aldrich commonly used homophobic slurs, and club patrons have said they believed Club Q’s reputation as an inclusive space made it a target for violence.
Councilmember Alison Coombs, who is bisexual and married to a transgender woman, told Jurinsky that Murillo’s resolution focused on hate crimes impacting LGBTQ people because that demographic was the target of a recent, high-profile incident of mass violence.
She also said she’s personally witnessed “an increasing amount of hateful rhetoric, hateful acts (and) a resurgence of kinds of rhetoric that I haven’t seen since I was a teenager.”
“And it was specifically a safe space for LGBTQIA people. Gay bars and clubs are some of the only places where actually we do get to feel safe,” Coombs said. “When I go to the grocery store with my spouse, I see people sneering and jeering. A lot of places that are safe for a lot of people are not safe in the same way for us.”
Jurinsky said she “absolutely support(ed)” the resolution by Murillo and called the shooting “absolutely horrifying” but she said hate crimes were “becoming overwhelmingly accepted against multiple protected classes,” including Jews. Jurinsky is Jewish.
Last week, Mayor Mike Coffman began the council’s study session with a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Club Q shooting, which he said was “clearly an act of hate.” He said Aurora police had also offered to aid the Colorado Springs Police Department, and that he and the council had sent a letter of support to the city.
Coffman and multiple other council members also offered condolences to Colorado Springs and the victims of the shooting on Monday.
“Although I’ve lived in Aurora for over 20 years, I grew up in Colorado Springs,” Councilmember Angela Lawson said. “I wish nothing but healing for the families and to the city and the community.”
Having listened to the comments from both sides, my opinion is: both things are true. As Councilwomen Coombs and Murillo expressed, our citizens and neighbors in the LGBTQIA+ community deserve our support, and a condemnation of acts of Hatred against them. But as Danielle, on whom many things I disagree with stated: All of these violent acts of Hatred are abhorrent. Whether it’s Club Q, the assaults on the trains, the shootings. All of these selfish, violent expressions of Hatred towards individuals and groups needs to stop. We all should stand together, regardless of our personal, religious, political, lifestyle choice, or other affiliations. We share our lives here in this Metro together. We need to stand up together as well. Say no more. No more Hatred. No more discrimination. No more selfish acts of violence. If Aurora is supposed to be an, “example to the state,” as the Mayor puts it, then we need to act like an example worth following. Not just a bunch of people with big mouths, and no willingness to act on what harms and threatens us all.
To be respectful Omen, did you really listen to this conversation last night? I hear what you’re saying about everyone standing together and saying enough is enough. But Councilmember Jurinsky seemed to have missed the point of Councilmember Murillo’s resolution and its relevance to the horror at Club Q. And she stumbled every time she said LGBTQ and couldn’t even say it without looking at her screen. If she truly was “horrified” I wonder why she never put forth an anti-hate proclamation or resolution?
I agree fully with you. Jurinsky isn’t used to being asked to support anything but rich business owners. She obviously has trouble with it. But the point she was making was a good one. I just wouldnt expect to her to actually push such legislation, just complain and complain, then rush votes so she can go home. Cause she’s cold, as Sundberg put it. But none of that discounts what happened. I have my own ideas for things. I support all people, you don’t hafta tell me how you identify for that to be the case. Im a straight, cis white male who proudly wears a ring on my left hand I bought at Pride in Pennsylvania years ago.
America at its core is about freedom. Freedom to be who you believe you are inside. No one should be denied that right. Nor should they be hated, discriminated against, or attacked for it.
And as I understand it, its LGBTQIA+ now. I don’t think Jurinsky managed that one right much at all.
And yes, I was there. I spoke first, for the second hearing in a row from the public. Spoke to Councilwoman Coombs just before the hearing. She asked me how I was doing. My head slumped, and I could only answer, “better than some people right now”. Then her head slumped too. We may not share the same minds, or the same lifestyle. But in that moment, we shared a similar grief over yet another tragedy that should never have happened. That’s what it means to be an ally. Maybe more people should get down on the definition.