Tonight: Racial tensions spur meeting

John Colson
Aspen CO Colorado

BASALT ” Worries about rising tensions over immigration issues in the valley has prompted a local nonprofit to organize two meetings this week so Anglos and Latinos can talk.

Catholic Charities, which dispenses everything from food to housing to those in need and works closely on Latino issues, is sponsoring a meeting Monday in Basalt, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Vincent’s Church, 250 Midland Ave.

A second meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 3, in Glenwood Springs, starting at 8 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church, 1885 Blake Ave.

“With the Fourth of July coming up, it could trigger another incident,” said Tom Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities, “Especially with the drinking that will be going on.”

The meetings, he said, are an opportunity for Latinos and Anglos to get together “to discuss rising tensions over immigration in the valley. In light of recent local incidents and failed immigration reform legislation, this is an important time to sit down and talk about our common community concerns and how we can reduce tensions.”

Chief among the recent local incidents was the firing of rifle bullets into the 7-Eleven store in Basalt, perhaps as a result of racial tension between patrons and a store clerk. Police have arrested no suspects in the case and continue to investigate.

In addition, an immigration reform bill recently died in the U.S. Congress.

Both meetings this week are to be bi-lingual, Ziemann said, adding that he has invited some elected representatives from various communities affected by the issue.

“A lot of people may show up, or no one may show up,” he said Monday. “It may be just Latinos, it may be just Anglos.”

But the important thing, Ziemann said, is to provide the forum and see what happens.

“We’re king of concerned about what might happen over the holiday, with both Anglos and Latinos drinking,” he said. “There’s potential here for another incident.”

For coverage of Monday’s discussion, see Tuesday’s Aspen Times.

John Colson’s e-mail address is