Denver Coffee Shop Vandalized After Joking About Its Role in Gentrification

The ire over a Colorado coffee shop’s apparent slight of gentrification in Denver did not stop on Thanksgiving, as photos from the location circulating on social media show the shop has now been vandalized.

The Colorado coffee shop ink! has drawn consternation after proudly proclaiming its role in gentrifying a Denver neighborhood. (Credit: KMGH via CNN)

The Colorado coffee shop ink! has drawn consternation after proudly proclaiming its role in gentrifying a Denver neighborhood. (Credit: KMGH via CNN)

The backlash against ink! Coffee in the Five Points neighborhood started after photos of a sandwich board sign reading “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014” went viral on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, according to KMGH in Denver.

The chain was forced to issue an apology, first on Twitter and then on Facebook, after the story gained national attention.

“Our (bad) joke was never meant to offend our vibrant and diverse community. We should know better. We hope you will forgive us,” a social media manager for the company wrote on Facebook.

But many area residents felt the company’s apology was hollow and planned a protest outside the location on Saturday.

Tensions between the company and Five Points residents escalated on Thanksgiving, as photos from the location show the shop was vandalized by early Thursday morning.

A photo from Denver-based photographer Armando Geneyro of Theyshootn, an international photography community based in Denver, shows the red walls of the shop are now decorated with the words “WHITE COFFEE” in all-black caps along with “gentrify deez nuts!” written on the shop’s sign.

“I thought the sign was in poor taste. You don’t laugh at other’s distress. That doesn’t justify this response, though,” a Twitter user said after KMGH shared the photo. “A sit-in of the people who are displaced by gentrification would be more demonstrative.”

Just after noon on Thursday, ink! Coffee founder Keith Herbert tweeted out a letter apologizing once again for the offending sign and saying he had spent to last 24 hours listening to residents and learning about gentrification.

“When our advertising firm presented this campaign to us, I interpreted it as taking pride in being part of a dynamic, evolving community that is inclusive of people of all races, ethnicities, religions and gender identities,” Herbert wrote. “I recognize now that we had a blind spot to other legitimate interpretations.”

The company removed its reviews section on Facebook but has seen a barrage of negative reviews on Yelp, where it currently holds a 1.5-star rating.

Meanwhile, some people passing by the store took pictures of the graffiti and said they understood the frustration behind it.

“We’ve seen a lot of development and started to call it RiNo, and those are primarily people that are white,” said Andi Todaro, who lives nearby. “To not be sensitive about that is to basically point the finger at yourself and say, ‘Yes. You are correct. I’m the biggest part of the problem.'”