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Photos: Protester defies lawsuit threat from development near Rocky Flats

Categories: Environment

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Big photos below.
Americans have well-established rights to free speech. But at what point do such activities cross the line into defamation? That's a question currently confronting Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish, a mother of three who lives near the site of Rocky Flats, a facility that once made triggers for nuclear weapons. A powerful law firm has sent her a cease-and-desist letter regarding her criticisms of developments near the plant, threatening millions in liabilities. But rather than zipping her lips, she's retained an attorney of her own and plans to keep speaking out at a weekend event.

"They're clearly trying to quiet any controversy," maintains Gabrieloff-Parish. "They're not just trying to silence me. They really don't want anything about this out at all."

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A sign toward the Candelas development near the intersection of highways 72 and 93.
The issues have cropped up in regard to the Candelas development, described like so on the company's website:
Welcome to Candelas
The Next Great Place on the Front Range

There is a magnificent sweep of mountain pastureland you'd swear you've seen before on picture postcards of the great American West. This wide-open landscape, this epitome of raw western beauty, is called Candelas. A nearly 1,500-acre master-planned community in west Arvada, Candelas presents a life full of the very things people love most about Colorado. Come live life wide open.

Attorney Jonathan Pray of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which represents Arvada Residential Partners with respect to Candelas, declines to comment about the subject, citing the possibility of future litigation. But a letter Pray sent to Gabrieloff-Parish maintains that she made "defamatory statements" capable of affecting "the trade and business of ARP." They're said to constitute libel per se.

"Under Colorado law," the letter states, "to the extent you were involved in the making of these statements, you are personally liable for the full amount of ARP's damages, which could exceed many millions of dollars."

Candelas and ARP had received all the proper approvals and was well underway when Gabrieloff-Parish, who lives nearby, became concerned about the development, not to mention the Jefferson Parkway, an $813 million toll-road project in the area that has been targeted by assorted environmental groups.

As such, Gabrieloff-Parish put up a mini-website, Candelasglows.com. An essay posted there worries that the Candelas and Jefferson Parkway efforts could kick up plutonium particles that were buried as part of the plant's cleanup. After noting the June 1 grand opening for Candelas, Gabrieloff-Parish wrote that "local residents are proposing educating participants about the risks they may be incurring -- for themselves and for the larger community by buying homes so close to a Superfund site."

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Courtesy of Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish
Candelasglows.com features a version of the invitation to the grand opening -- except with radiation warning symbols on either side.

In addition, Gabrieloff-Parish wrote about Candelas for a post on Elephant Journal. Its headline reads "Green Housing on Plutonium," but its URL features the words "Angelina Jole cuts off both breasts to prevent cancer while we prepare to build housing on plutonium."

Continue for more about Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish and the Candelas development, including additional photos.


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9 comments
cecelia.gilboy
cecelia.gilboy

Michelle is a courageous advocate for public safety. Yesterday, in defiance of corporate intimidation, she organized another rally at Candelas. The developers were hosting another open house for prospective home-buyers -- and they had accidentally sent Michelle an invitation. We'll post photos from the event soon. (We photographed activists in full-body Haz-Mat suits touring $600,000 homes, and then the Arvada police reluctantly addressing the realtors' phone calls, and more.) For continuous updates, please "Like" Rocky Flats Nuclear Guardianship on Facebook, or follow @GuardRockyFlats on Twitter, or see www.rockyflatsnuclearguardianship.org. Thank you.

kippapao
kippapao

We support Mrs Michelle Ramon Garbieloff-Parish.  We know her to be a person of deep integrity and commitment to the well being of her community, families and children.  Local to Global Advocates for Justice and the Food, Health and Environmental Justice Coalition. Maria Whittaker, President.

kippapao
kippapao

We support Mrs Michelle Ramon Garbieloff-Parish.  We know her to be a person of deep integrity and commitment to the well being of her community, families and children.  Local to Global Advocates for Justice and the Food, Health and Environmental Justice Coalition. Maria Whittaker, President.

Maria Lewis
Maria Lewis

absolutely not - Mrs. Michelle Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish is raising public awareness while a business with plenty of money threatens her and her family with financial ruin to make her stop. Sounds like corporate intimidation.

fabfamilia
fabfamilia

@Maria Lewis Yes! Why is it acceptable to build housing in a horribly contaminated area... but contentious to speak up about it? Corporate intimidation all the way. If it's so safe, the debate should be welcomed...

fabfamilia
fabfamilia

@davebarnes Yupp! SLAPP suits meant to quiet community voices are illegal in many states, but not in Colorado. Either way, we've all got our 1st amendment rights to speak out-- especially about a public health concern!

... I think the developers should cease & desist, not the concerned community!

dejadoc
dejadoc

@fabfamilia It is as if everybody has forgotten.  Kristen Iverson's book  "Full Body Burden" gives those that do not know what this all about, so great insight.  Thanks for the efforts.

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