The most visible recent step backward for Boulder’s racial equity efforts came in March 2019, when a Boulder Police officer tried to arrest Zayd Atkinson, an African American Naropa student, on suspicion of trespassing while picking up trash outside his apartment. Atkinson disputed the officer’s right to arrest him, and he was eventually confronted by nine officers, with guns drawn. The incident sparked a community firestorm and led to a police oversight task force to look at racial bias. The arresting officer resigned.
Many people of color report not feeling included in Boulder County, despite the area’s reputation as a progressive stronghold. Several large institutions have recognized this is an issue, to the point where many are prioritizing efforts to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
Chester Kurtz credits his parents and his upbringing in a hardscrabble Montana town for motivating him to give to and volunteer for nonprofit organizations.