Denver Targets Institutional Racism in New Equity Package

Published on August 06, 2021

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation is working to eliminate institutional racism and build equitable policies in local government, which are the focus of two bills unanimously passed by Denver City Council on Monday, Aug. 2. 

“I am proud of our city agencies for putting forward this Equity Packet for consideration and thank City Council for their unanimous support on these critical issues,” Mayor Hancock said. “Being an inclusive city means being inclusive in our laws as much as it means being inclusive in our values. Our actions should reflect those values, and this is another step in implementing our citywide equity strategies.”   

“Inclusive language matters. With the passage of this Equity Package, Denver will replace the phrase ‘illegal alien’ with ‘worker without authorization,’ Atim Otii, Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs said. “The term illegal alien criminalizes individuals, but it also dehumanizes our residents based solely on their immigration status.”  

Additionally, the Denver Revised Municipal Code will be updated to include the prohibition of discrimination based on a protective hairstyle. 

“Hair discrimination is discrimination. That’s why I passed the CROWN Act, so that people would not have to endure such discrimination in school, in the workplace or housing,” Rep. Leslie Herod (HD-8) said. “I applaud the City and County of Denver for taking necessary steps to ensure people can live and thrive as their whole true selves.” 

Creating inclusive neighborhoods around the City and County of Denver begins with commitments to Race and Social Justice and Equity. The Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation leads the City’s efforts to eliminate social inequity and race and social injustices by first identifying racism, then by taking action to eliminate it through changing the systems, organizational structures, policies and practices that allow it.   

Executive Order 146 requires each city agency to create equity plans and strategies to ensure that employees are moving towards creating equitable outcomes in programs, policies, and budget decisions. 

“We will partner with the community to ensure all city employees understand how vital equity and inclusion are to all aspects of city services,” Kim Desmond, Interim Chief Equity Officer said. 

Actions by Denver legislators in the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions helped to lay the groundwork for these new code changes. We thank Representative Leslie Herod for her sponsorship of HB20-1048 and Representative Susan Lontine and Senator Julie Gonzales for their sponsorship of HB21-1075.


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