A Republican candidate running to represent Aurora in the U.S. House of Representatives removed Elijah McClain‘s name from an event he was hosting after the family said he didn’t have permission to use it.
Steve House, the Republican candidate for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, was set to host a prayer breakfast in remembrance of McClain at a campaign office Saturday morning. But the McClain family’s attorney said they were not invited to the event nor contacted about it.
“While it is certainly true that every member of our community should share the outrage against the Aurora police and medics killed who this innocent young man and the city that refuses to accept accountability, it is disheartening that candidate House would use Elijah’s name in his campaign against a progressive candidate who is actively working to combat police brutality,” attorney Mari Newman said in an email to The Denver Post.
House’s campaign was contacted by a friend of the McClain family Thursday night after the family became aware of the event, said Roger Hudson, spokesman for the campaign. McClain’s name and photo were immediately removed from the flier about the event at their request, he said. They did not intend for the event to upset anybody, Hudson said.
“The last thing in the world we would want to do is cause them any pain whatsoever,” Hudson said.
Hudson said the event was created after the campaign’s volunteer office on East Colfax Avenue received a letter from the Aurora Police Department warning of the possibility for large demonstrations Sunday. The campaign staff talked with community leaders, pastors and other organizations in the area about holding a peaceful event commemorating McClain’s life and calling for justice in his case, Hudson said. A pastor from Aurora’s Heritage Christian Center was scheduled to speak.
The breakfast was not an official campaign event, Hudson said, though they are hosting it at the campaign headquarters. The first flyer for the event included a photo of House, his campaign logo and a quote from him about McClain, along with McClain’s photo.
“This wasn’t really a political thing for us,” Hudson said.
McClain’s mom, Sheneen McClain, for weeks has repeatedly posted on social media asking people not to use her son’s name without permission.
House’s incumbent opponent, U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, was one of the first elected officials to reach out to the McClains, well before national media attention to the case began, Newman said. Crow has stayed in contact with the family and worked on a police accountability bill after McClain’s death, she said.
House is finalizing his own platform on police reform and accountability, Hudson said.
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