Michael Bennet and Jason Crow should apologize, immediately and without qualification.
As the world knows, U.S. Sen Bennet and U.S. Rep. Crow each ruined the vigil for Kendrick Castillo — the teen hero who gave his life trying to save others during the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
Bennet and Crow showed up together at two memorials May 8, the first at a church and the second at Highlands Ranch High School. At each event, people gathered to mourn, grieve and pray. At the school, Bennet and Crow brazenly marketed political dreams for more federal gun control.
In their defense, neither organized the event. They may have been confused about its purpose. They may have expected an adequate lineup of student speakers with varying messages. Any which way, and for whatever reason, they destroyed an evening no one can replace.
Regardless of how one feels about the gun control agenda, this was no time or place for political proselytizing. Parents and students walked out in protest. Not just a few, but dozens who had the same reaction.
“They (Bennet and Crow) were just talking about Kendrick like he was a prop and that wasn’t something I could handle,” said Christopher, a 17-year-old senior at STEM School, speaking to Colorado Public Radio.
“We are pretty much really mad because they turned us into politics about gun control when we came here to respect our brother Kendrick,” said Gavin, also a STEM student who spoke to public radio. “We are people, not a statement.”
Even Whoopi Goldberg, the liberal host of “The View,” said the politicians should have allowed students to mourn without political noise.
None of this stopped Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Johnston from quickly exploiting the tragedy with a Denver Post guest column. Johnston blames U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner — his prospective Republican opponent, of course — for getting donations from the NRA. Johnston goes on to promote a wish list of gun laws that could do nothing to prevent a tragedy the likes of the STEM School shooting.
Responding the vigil uproar, Bennet spokesperson Courtney Gidner issued a statement:
“That evening should have been about Kendrick Castillo and the STEM School students. They are our focus and the event should have been set up to ensure their voices were fully heard,” Gidner wrote.
Crow issued the following, through Communications Director Anne Feldman.