Black Panthers in Jeffco?

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County GOP website draws criticism for posting ‘inappropriate image'

By Vicky Gits

A photo of two members of the New Black Panther Party with clenched fists and berets appeared briefly Sept. 26 on the Jefferson County Republican Party website, JeffcoRepublicans.com, prompting charges of racism. The image was removed that night.

The photo accompanied a recruitment ad for volunteer poll watchers that said, “Pollwatchers Needed. Because these guys will be there too!”

The appearance of the photo was first reported by ColoradoPols.com in a story with the headline, “Jefferson County GOP: Black Panthers Are Coming to Steal Your Vote.”

Don Ytterberg of Evergreen, vice chairman of the state Republican Party said: “It was a picture that one of our volunteers posted. It’s not up anymore. A volunteer did it to recruit poll watchers.

“It was an inappropriate image. It’s disappointing that people interpret it as racially motivated. We are not racist and reject anything that purports to say we might be,” Ytterberg said.

The chairman of the Jeffco Democratic Party, Chris Kennedy, said the photo was probably just a misguided attempt to motivate people to volunteer.

“I don’t think it was racist. I think it was extremely poor judgment,” Kennedy said. "… Maybe there was a deliberate intention to be provocative, but not racist.”

As chairman, Kennedy manages the Jeffco Dems' website himself instead of delegating it to others who might not understand the ramifications. “I think about this every time I put up a picture,” he said.

He said the photo gave the impression that Republicans think liberals are all militants. “I hope they realize the liberal stereotypes are untrue,” he said.

“They were just trying to rally their people. … It’s a constant effort to try to get volunteers involved,” Kennedy said.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.