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A statement from the Executive Board of The African Diaspora Initiative of the Colorado Democrats:
Over the last few months, the Black Community has experienced extreme division with anonymous allegations made against Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson who is a registered Democrat. The Board of Directors for the African Diaspora Initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party will always hold space that believes survivors while equally holding space for accused individuals to respond to their allegations. Holding space for survivors include and is not limited to: the right to due process, the right to face their accusers, and the right to go through the proper investigative process by local law enforcement authorities. These processes exist to allow for restoration, atonement, and a path to forgiveness without stigma.
However, in Dir. Anderson’s situation, there is no accuser. Rather, an organization brought forth allegations from an anonymous source/person who has yet to be identified. This is beyond dangerous for many reasons. The organization is not open about its membership process, members, or leadership. The process of verifying an accusation of “Sexual Assault” is only known to the individuals of the organization that brought forth these accusations. Because of these individualistic practices not communicated or agreed to by the public, when we consider that there is a less than friendly relationship from the accusing organization towards Dir. Anderson there exists too much space for personal bias that is hurtful to the accuser, the accused, and the community we share.
Additionally, we must acknowledge that this situation worsened and became more hazardous when a white woman insinuated that Dir. Anderson raped 62 children (61 of which were allegedly undocumented). These accusations have also been unconfirmed, and no families, schools leaders, teachers, religious leaders, or community organizations have come forward to ratify these claims. As of today, there has only been a doubling-down on the initial accusations from the accusing organization, meaning that, based upon the public facts of this incident, there exists no victim; there is only an organization with a history of personal bias and closeted systems and a white woman making the accusation of rape against a Black man.
Here are the facts of what we know:
- In late February 2021, an anonymous individual allegedly shared an experience with BLM5280 (Black Lives Matter 5280) claiming Dir Anderson committed sexual assault.
- On March 26, 2021, a statement was issued publicly by the BLM 5280 accusing Dir. Anderson of committing sexual assault, thus igniting a trial within the court of public opinion.
- Later, these accusations were supported by a gun violence prevention group that claimed that Dir. Anderson made the work environment in their group uncomfortable. To be clear, an uncomfortable work environment is NOT sexual assault.
- After further investigation, it was found that when presented with a letter from his former colleagues about his behavior, Dir. Anderson took accountability and publicly apologized for his actions as a teenager in this organization.
- Denver Public Schools launched an external investigation into these prior claims after MK (Mary Katherine) Brooks-Flemings appeared before a committee at the Colorado State Legislature in May with claims that an individual within Denver Public Schools sexually preyed on 62 students. Of those 62 students, 61 were alleged to be undocumented students.
- During this testimony, MK Brooks-Flemings asserted that Denver Public Schools was covering up these alleged assaults by having students sign NDAs on behalf of the accused individual.
- To date, the Denver Police Department and the Denver District Attorney have not had a single person come forward alleging they are a victim of Dir. Anderson.
- Several Latino community organizations have confirmed they were never contacted about the alleged assaults on undocumented individuals in DPS who were identified as undocumented students.
- Denver Public Schools confirmed they have never signed any NDA’s with any students and this is the first time they have ever received any complaints of this nature against Dir. Anderson.
This leads ADICD to question the origin and nature of all parts of these allegations, subsequent allegations from the gun violence prevention group, and MK Brooks-Fleming. While Dir. Anderson was not named explicitly at the testimony given at the legislature, MK Brooks-Fleming has never refuted him as the accused. Instead, she has paid for an advertisement that defames his name in this situation.
When this whirlwind of accusations began in March, our community was told it was being done in the spirit of “restorative and transformative justice” by an organization that was founded on the death and vilification of the Black man. However, several professionals in the field of survivorship and advocacy on behalf of survivors agree that the ways in which these allegations were handled were neither in the service of “restorative or transformative justice.” Rather than heal our community, this incident has further divided our community. It has created opportunities for various right-wing organizations and hate-filled individuals to attack Dir. Anderson.
How the accusing organization handled this situation has also made possible the targeted attacks on Dir. Anderson’s associates and family members, who have incurred death threats in public and online. As a result, we have seen mainstream media and even local leaders in our communities regurgitate inflammatory and false information from right-wing blog posts. Publications like the “Colorado Herald” have given counterproductive reporting in ways that have been harmful and damaging to all of us.
Therefore, we arrive at a precipice: we must decide whether we are willing to allow the ugliest parts of our community (white supremacists, far right-wingers, those seeking to vilify another Black man, etc.) to capitalize on moments where our community expresses vulnerability or we must decide whether we remain dedicated to the principles of integrity and restorative justice that are seminal to the ways in which we handle harm in our community.
If we choose to allow our community’s vulnerabilities to be capitalized upon (especially as many people are showing up to various legislative bodies attempting to overthrow teaching Critical Race Theory, consent education, etc.), stories like Emmett Till will not only never be taught to our students, but the reality of Black men being falsely accused will be perpetuated again and again. As we have even
witnessed recently, the community lynching of a Black man continues in our society. It is time for all of us to stand up and call out this entire process. Right now, we are witnessing a high-tech lynching of a 23-year-old Black man and other Black community members. Many of us have watched and remained silent as he has been crucified over false, unpursued, and recanted allegations where there still remains no victim whatsoever.
What will we say when it is our loved one being attacked, vilified, and hanged by the public, on social media, in the news, etc. without due process or critical thinking?
The way that our community handled this is larger than one individual — it is indicative of the ways in which we must grow in our quest of believing survivors, invest in due process for all individuals, and reckon with the historical and present effects of false accusations on a Black man in America. And, in our quest for community healing, we must support organizations that specialize in supporting survivors to share their experiences so that survivors may get the healing and justice they are seeking. Yet, without a community investment to ensure our communities are kept safe from anyone seeking to cause any harm, we run a great risk of causing harm to ourselves. And, we know that now more than ever our communities are in desperate need of the exact opposite: healing.
The African Diaspora Initiative of Colorado Democrats
Press Contact: Chairwoman Shenika Carter Email: Info@ADICD.org