Desecrated Armenian khachkar monument in Denver (Photo Pastor Brian Henderson, First Baptist Church of Denver)

Colorado State Capitol Khachkar Genocide Memorial Vandalized

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DENVER – The Colorado state capitol khachkar memorial to the Armenian Genocide and to the victims of all crimes against humanity was vandalized with spray-painted graffiti on the night of May 29-30 in downtown Denver during the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd due to police brutality. It appears that the whole area, including another statue and the government building, was targeted. The perpetrators have not been identified.

One oddity is the phrase “Sample Text” spray-painted on the building behind the monument.

The following Facebook link provides a video of the monument and its immediate surroundings from May 31 taken by Simon Maghakyan who confirms the reality of the incident: https://www.facebook.com/thesimon/videos/10158533969637292.

Below is a statement from the board of directors of the Armenians of Colorado organization from May 30 from the organization’s Facebook page. It both condemns the injustice against African Americans and the vandalism of the monument.

President of the organization Sona Hedeshian later added on Facebook that several Armenian community members offered to help with the clean up but the organization asks that no one tries this at present. The organization will work with the state of Colorado to have it cleaned and restored professionally.

Unfortunately, according to Maghakyan on June 2, despite the warnings some individuals attempted to clean the khachkar on their own, and possibly damaged it further.

Denver khachkar after attempted cleaning (photo Simon Maghakyan)

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Dear community,

We are heartbroken to inform you that the Colorado State Capitol khachkar memorial to the Armenian Genocide and to the victims of all crimes against humanity has been vandalized with spray paint graffiti during the ongoing protests in downtown Denver.

Since the khachkar commemorates the victims of all crimes against humanity, including slavery and state-sponsored racism, it is ironic that individuals who claim to seek justice have vandalized the very monument that honors the victims of injustice.

Protest leaders have repeatedly denounced violence and vandalism. We do not hold the peaceful protesters responsible for the behavior of violent individuals. As Armenian Americans, a community that has survived genocide and centuries of oppression, we recognize and condemn the ongoing injustices against our African-American community and we join them in calling for justice for George Floyd.

Earlier today, our community leadership discussed scenarios for protecting the khachkar monument before we found out that it had been vandalized. One idea to protect the monument was boarding it up, which could have made the khachkar more vulnerable by making it inflammable.

Any vandalism against the capitol khachkar is particularly painful given that it is a replica of one of the 3,000 medieval cross-stones of the legendary Djulfa cemetery destroyed by Azerbaijan’s government in 2005 as part of their plan of erasing the Armenian history in Nakhichevan.

We will continue to monitor the ongoing protests and consider short-term and long-term solutions for the protection of the Colorado state capitol memorial to the victims of all crimes against humanity.

If necessary, we will rebuild our sacred monument again and again, while defending human rights and equality for all.

Board of Directors

Armenians of Colorado

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