The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) along with a list of civil rights and immigrant rights organizations, condemn the City of Durango’s censorship toward community members during recent Community Relations Commission (CRC) meetings and celebrate the efforts of community members to ensure immigrant voices continue to be heard.
During the May 25th meeting, a member of the CRC commission, who is also an immigrant rights advocate, had a background image with the words “Abolish ICE.” Mayor Barbara Noseworthy reached out to the chair of the CRC and mentioned she did not like commission members using the space for their “personal agenda.” She then asked the CRC chair to censor the advocate and remove their background.
At the following meeting in June, advocates present at the meeting were told by the city attorney, Dirk Nelson, it was improper etiquette to display images depicting a political stance. Further, Mayor Noseworthy resigned from her position as City Liaison for the CRC.
First and foremost, we at CIRC believe this kind of censorship gives the impression that the City of Durango has a kind of self-interest in maintaining a strong ICE presence in the region. We recognize the barrier this kind of action creates for the immigrant community’s ability to participate in civic engagement activities and understand it harms the delicate trust between the immigrant community and public officials. ICE is a constant threat to the immigrant community in Durango. They use manipulative tactics to coerce information and ambush families when they are most vulnerable. The desire to abolish ICE is not a controversial stance across the vast majority of the immigrant community.
In addition to this censorship, community members were forced to go the extra mile to ensure the CRC meetings would continue after they learned there were plans to pause them. This was due to a “technicality” following Mayor Noseworthy’s resignation as CRC liaison.
Sadly, the CRC chair only learned of this agenda item a couple of days before the August 2nd City Council meeting, where it was to be discussed. CRC members were not informed of the possibility that those meetings would end. This begs the question– why did the City Council not bother to reach out to CRC commissioners and allow them to prepare for the discussion? If they had been informed a liaison was necessary for the continuation of the CRC, members may have been able to recruit one ahead of the next meeting. Instead, the community was forced to move quickly and request a large turnout for the August 2nd city council meeting.
The CRC has been a powerful space for individuals who are typically marginalized to voice their concerns around issues impacting their communities. It is vital these meetings continue, and immigrants demonstrated that fact by showing up in the dozens to the August 2nd meeting. The immigrant community has proven its resilience in the face of obstacles countless times, and we want to uplift the effort that created this amazing turnout.
We ask Durango City Council members to take a clear stance on issues such as ICE separating families in our communities, so families in this community can make informed decisions before participating in civic engagement activities. We also invite them to listen to the stories of people who have been impacted by ICE enforcement, directly from them. The city of Durango claims to be prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We applaud this stance, and we hope to see more evidence of this work in the future.
For anyone else interested in voicing their concerns around censorship and ICE’s impact on our cherished immigrant community in Durango, upcoming meetings of the Community Relations Commission are located here: https://publicaccess.durangogov.org/OnBaseAgendaOnline/.
Read more about the incident in this Durango Herald Article
Organizational Sign ons:
CIRC Action Fund
UTST (United Today, Stronger Tomorrow)
Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center