Headlines October 4, 2021
Women’s March Rallies Held in Denver, Boulder and Longmont
On Saturday, thousands of people rallied at the State Capitol in Denver in support of reproductive rights and freedom. Hundreds of people also turned out in both Boulder and Longmont as part of the national Women’s March in which 600 protests took place across the country. The demonstrations occurred just a couple of days before the beginning of the term for the U.S. Supreme Court which will hear arguments about the future of abortion rights. We’ll have more on the Women’s March after headlines.
State Says There’s an Uptick of Kids Infected with COVID
On Friday, Colorado’s epidemiologist said that, despite a downward trend in COVID-19 cases across the state, there’s been an uptick of infections among children 6 to 11 years old. The Colorado Sun reports that kids under 12 are still the only group ineligible to get a vaccination because no shot has yet been approved; however, the drug company Pfizer is going through the final steps to gain approval for those 5 and older.
Scott Bookman, the state’s pandemic incident commander said that the state is at an incredibly high rate of hospitalizations compared to where they want to be. He added that it continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and they will not feel comfortable until hospitalizations go down significantly. On Friday nearly 830 people were in hospital with the virus, almost 80 percent of them were unvaccinated.
Janitors at DIA Strike on Friday and Hope for New Contract This Week
On Friday morning about 350 janitors, most of whom are people of color and immigrants, walked off the their jobs striking for better pay and work conditions. The workers are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 105 and work for Flagship Facility Services or its subcontractors. Their contract expired Thursday night and they have been involved in negotiations for weeks. The Denver Channel reports that the janitors are paid just under 16 and half dollars per hour.
While they struck on Friday the workers agreed to go back to work on Saturday with no deal in place but hoping an one can be reached this week. Other workers at the airport are threatening to go on strike. A security officer at Denver International told KDVR that their demands for higher pay have gone unheeded despite the fact they are usually the first responders. He also said that most of them are working 16 hours a day five days a week.
Objections to New Congressional Redistricting Map Expected to Be Filed
At least two organizations are planning to object to new congressional district maps in the state. The new districts are part of a plan submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court last week. Colorado Public Radio reports that some contend the map does not represent Latinos and other minority groups adequately, and dilutes their voices.
One group called CLLARO – the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization – said in a statement that the redistricting proposal is an incredibly disappointing outcome for Latinos and voters has a whole. The organization had advocated for a district in southern Colorado but that the commission prioritized competitiveness over communities of interest.
Another group, the League of United Latin American Citizens will also file a brief with the court explaining its concerns about the southern part of the state. According to CPR, the southern region of the state under the new districts would be in a safe Republican district. The state high court has until November 1 to approve the proposed map or send it back to the newly formed independent redistricting commission.
FBI Is Investigating Colorado Judicial Department
In other news involving the Colorado Supreme Court, the FBI is investigating the circumstances involving the awarding of a contract to a former employee of the Judicial Department. The Denver Post reports that a $2.5 million dollar contract was given after the employee threatened to file a tell-all sexual discrimination lawsuit.
The investigation by the FBI is one of six that have started after the Post revealed that Mindy Masias, the former chief of staff for the Judicial Department, received a five year training contract allegedly to keep her from revealing allegations of misconduct. According to the paper, Masias would have disclosed indiscretions at the highest level of the state’s court system including allegations that justices of the supreme court ordered evidence destroyed. At the time the contract was awarded, Masias was being fired from the state department because of financial improprieties.
Aurora Police Officers Express Disapproval of Chief
Police officers in Aurora have voted in a poll to disapprove of Chief Vanessa Wilson who has been committed to reforming the embattled department and improving its reputation. The Denver Post reports that Wilson has called for expedited internal affairs investigations, and has fired three officers who were involved in a scandal where three police were photographed while imitating a chokehold used on Elijah McClain who later died from being injected with ketamine by Aurora first responders.
The Aurora officers voted 442 to 16 expressing their disapproval of Chief Wilson. The head of the Aurora Police Association, told the Post that the vote was prompted by the chief’s reopening of an investigation into traffic stop of a Black man who said he was tackled and stunned with a Taser by officers.