Equality, Education, & Safety

Immigration Justice Task Force

Our Immigration Justice Task Force works to advocate for immigrants and their families who are facing deportation and legal challenges, and affirms and promotes just immigration policies at the local and national level.

We are currently working in collaboration with the New Sanctuary Movement in the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition. This work is to companion individuals who are in the process of deportation from the United States as they protest their deportation and seek a stay of deportation to be able to remain in this country with their family, loved ones, and community.

Contact Judy Cardenas for more information.

Immigration Task Force – Updates

Over the last two months we have had two individuals in Sanctuary, Ingrid Encalada Latorre and Jeanette Vizguerra.  Both left Sanctuary in the middle to late May.    Below is their update.

Ingrid:   On May 20th Ingrid, an immigrant mother of two who sought sanctuary at a Mountain View Friends Meeting,  received a temporary stay from deportation.  Ingrid had been at Mountain View for over six months.  

Members of First Universalist supported Ingrid and her 1 yr. old son while she was at Mountain View by bringing food, sleeping overnight, childcare and writing letters of support.  At her court date in Jefferson County on May 3rd the

there was a large contingent of our members who protect her from possible ICE arrest while she attended a court hearing.  A little history:   Ingrid is a native of Peru who came to the U.S. unlawfully, this will allow Ingrid to continue her appeal of a 2010 case in which she pleaded guilty to a felony charge for possessing falsified or stolen identification papers that she used to get work.  Her new attorney, Jeff Joseph, announced that ICE officials agreed not to pursue deportation through Aug. 7 to allow the local court to rule on the case.  Ingrid is seeking to withdraw the plea because she received deficient legal counsel who suggested the guilty plea would not affect her immigration status. She is scheduled for another court hearing July 7.

Jeannette:  Jeanette Vizguerra who is one of the founders of the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition was given a 2 year stay of Deportation.  Both she and Arturo Hernandez were given two year stays  as a result of a Private Bill submitted by Senator Bennett and Jared Polis in May.   As I understand Private Bills are something congressman can submit and while they are being considered by the congress they are immune from deportation for the next two years.

In May, Jeanette was also named by Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.  Because she was in Sanctuary at the time, she and others celebrated her award at First Unitarian Society of Denver.  Jeanette is very grateful for all those who helped her.  Although she has a stay for two years, her battle to remain in this country is not over.

My email for questions, thoughts or concerns is dmoe54@gmail.com or go the Metrodenversanctuarycoalition.org

Racial Justice Task Force

The Racial Justice Task Force works to promote the worth and dignity of every human being, regardless of race by

  • advocating for racial justice in the local community and beyond
  • building relationships with local organizations to broaden the impact of this work
  • tackling the tough questions through conversation and community

Check out our 2017 Racial Justice Film Series:

Films in the series are shown on the second Monday of the month at 7p.m. at First Plymouth Church.

  • JanuaryThe Doctrine of Discovery
  • FebruaryPolicing the Police   In this documentary, writer Jelani Cobb “rides along” with the highly criticized Newark Police officers for one month and documents their interactions with citizens.  This film and Mr. Cobb’s observations offer insight into possible solutions to the problem of over-aggressive policing.  In March, our selection will be;
  • March: 13th: Ava DuVernay’s documentary about the criminalization of African Americans since the end of the civil war is even handed and compelling. DuVernay was the director of the movie, Selma.
  • AprilBridge to Freedom: Chap. 6 of Eyes on the Prize.  On March 7, demonstrators start a 54-mile march in response to an activist’s murder. They are protesting his death and the unfair state laws and local violence that keep African Americans from voting. Led by SNCC activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams, about 525 peaceful marchers are violently assaulted by state police near the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside Selma.
  • MayMarvin Booker Was Murdered. This film documents the death of Marvin Booker, a “homeless street minister” while in custody at the Denver Jail, and introduces us to Marvin Booker as a human being through the testimony of his family and people whose lives he touched.

Latest Updates:

Racial Justice Task Force Has Been Busy!

Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve been up to:

  • In April, our Task Force joined hundreds of other UU congregations across the country in presenting a White Supremacy Teach In for members of our congregation.  This Teach-In was held in response to a call from Black Lives of UU(BLUU) to stand in solidarity with their protest of the biased hiring practices for leadership positions in our own Unitarian Universalist Association.  The Teach-In was well attended (@74 attendees) and was the first of many conversations about recognizing our biases as another step toward building the Beloved Community we dream of. Look for a 2-part workshop on Implicit Bias in October
  • R.J.T.F. wrapped up its first season of the Racial Justice Film Series by showing our first locally produced and directed film Marvin Booker Was Murdered. The director of the film, Wade Gardner led the discussion following this powerful documentary about the death of Marvin Booker, a homeless street preacher at the hands of Denver Deputy Sheriffs in the Denver Jail.    The Racial Justice Film Series will resume on a monthly basis in the fall.
  • Our Task Force held a half-day retreat on June 5 to set goals and plan projects for the coming year.
  • Members of our T.F. attended the Leadership Retreat put on for our congregation and the Resist Forward Summit at Shorter AME Community Church involving a broad cross section of social justice groups in our community.

Contact Dan Moen for more information.

LGBTQ Rights

We work to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We became  a “Welcoming Congregation” through the Unitarian Universalist Association in May 1996. The task force continues to educate the congregation and community.

  • We with other like-minded coalitions and the legislature in efforts to change local, state, and federal laws which discriminate against LGBTQ people. We work in partnership with The Center, Rainbow Alley for youth, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Denver (PFLAG).
  • We participate in PrideFest annually, a parade and fair celebrating gender diversity. Each year we well-represent “red” in the UU rainbow ( by wearing red shirts), and have a strong, enthusiastic youth presence.

The road to equality is long, and must be traveled one step at a time. As long as homophobia and discrimination exist, we have much work to do.

Contact Pris Ledbury for more information.

UUJME- UUs for Justice in the Middle East

The following is a status report of recent actions in support of UUs for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME).  I’ve been involved with group since 2002 or so, on a national basis.  Locally, there are a handful of UUs involved but there is no established “chapter” in Denver.  There is a UUJME group based in Boulder Valley UU Fellowship, Lafayette that is active. Since January, I have been stitching together the Colorado elements of a US tour by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem, Palestine. His trip to the US is anchored by several appearances at the UUA GA in New Orleans, later this month. At the GA, he will do presentations and participate in a panel discussion on Environmental Justice and sustainability.

In his talks, Professor Qumsiyeh guides the audience on a tour of science and peace, conflict resolution and ecological conservation, human rights and nature.  He connects the dots joining Christianity, Islam, climate science, environmental justice, museums and botanical gardens, Israel, Palestine, and peace.

Mazin Qumsiyeh was born and raised on the outskirts of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. He is a Christian Palestinian educated in the Middle East and the US.  He earned his Ph.D. at Texas Tech University and his post-doctoral training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His scientific research afforded him the opportunity to meet people from around the world.  He has been a professor at the University of Tennessee, Duke, and Yale.

Professor Qumsiyeh now teaches and researches at Bethlehem University, a Catholic co-educational institution serving Christian and Muslim students, and Birzeit University, both in the Palestinian territories. He is director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and founder of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability.

He has written more than 130 research papers and is the author of The Bats of Egypt, Mammals of the Holy Land and Sharing the Land of Canaan. He co-founded several organizations that promote social justice.  In 2011, he received the Social Courage Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association at the Christian Brothers University in Tennessee.

According to Professor Qumsiyeh, “Peace is not a commodity or a destination but it is a path of life that we humans must choose now. That choice is also the choice of human survival and sustainability on this planet. The only other choice is the path of greed and conflict and nationalism and tribalism that in the 21st century would lead to human extinction via nuclear war or climate change.”
His program in Colorado consists of multiple events in the Denver – Boulder area on 17 – 18 June, including the First Universalist Community Forum on Sunday, 18 June. We are delighted that we have been able to bring him to Colorado.