Welcome to Aurora City Council Junior High School.
That’s what the city’s legislative body has essentially devolved to under the juvenile leadership of Crass President, Councilman Dave Gruber.
The freshman lawmaker has for months played petulant and adolescent stunts to smear or attack his political foes on the council. Gruber, a Republican, and a smattering of his council followers who should know better, continue to reach into the Donald Trump grab- bag of puerility to ridicule council Democrats.
Monday night’s sophomoric ruse crossed the line, even for Gruber.
Six city council members, two of which were voted out of office last week, donned “Thin Blue Line” t-shirts on the dais. All six are part of a soon-to-shrink faction pushing against another group of progressive lawmakers on the council.
For the past few weeks, demonstrators have appeared at city council meetings, disrupting proceedings with chants and vulgar barbs. Some of the protests have focused on recent deaths of people who’ve been engaged by Aurora police. In particular, one group wants answers to an investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a young black man who had a heart attack and later died after being confronted by police in September.
The skirmishes have gotten so bad in recent weeks, that Mayor Bob LeGare moved a city council meeting to a closed room.
Post-election, most of city hall was expecting a similar or worse confrontation Monday night. Police and local TV camera crews were ready.
It never materialized.
Anticipating Black Lives Matter oriented protests, however, council members Gruber, Marsha Berzins, Johnny Watson, Francoise Bergan, Bob Roth and Charlie Richardson all wore t-shirts that are the moniker for Blue Lives Matter.
You can see where this is going.
The statement was unequivocal. Richardson himself made that clear during the meeting when he angrily shot back at the chairwoman of the Arapahoe County Democratic Party.
Dem chairperson Kristin Mallory called out the gang for donning the shirts in light of a growing call for answers in McClain’s death.
Richardson gruffed that when he and Roth leave the dais next week and are replaced by two Democrats, the city will boast the most “anti-police” city council in its history.
After the meeting, Gruber told reporters that it was only coincidence that the six council members agreed to wear the t-shirts. He said it was not a statement about the McClain death, protesters or Black Lives Matter. Nor was it a statement about police retirement bonuses on the council agenda Monday night, he said.
Gruber’s preposterous lie would elicit nothing more than an eye roll from adults in the room if it weren’t so dangerous.
Gruber, and the equally foolish members of city council who went along with the prank, send a clear message to hundreds of thousands of black and minority residents in the area, growing fearful of Aurora police.
If Aurora lawmakers won’t keep an open mind to discover how McClain and others have died while encountering police, what hope do Aurora minority residents have?
Gruber’s lying about why six city council members chose to wear the t-shirts undermines his sunken credibility and makes him irrelevant to this serious public problem.
Councilwoman Allison Hiltz made a good point while explaining that Democrats on the city council were neither advised nor invited to participate in the t-shirt stunt. There is no line drawn in the sand for supporting either police or the public and not both. It’s entirely possible for a city lawmaker to support the city’s 700 or so talented and passionate police officers who dedicate their lives to helping people and simultaneously ensure police protect the rights of all citizens they interact with.
Apparently, just not for Gruber.
For the sake of Aurora, others on the city council should choose someone else on the dais to follow.
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