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As we reported last week, an organized effort by a small group of closed-minded individuals has convinced some local businesses to stop distributing the Independent. As a result of this effort, King Soopers recently banned our paper from their nine Colorado Springs stores. King Soopers made this decision without seeking input from the Independent or giving us any notice.

Until we were banned, 7,500 copies of the Independent were picked up by regular customers at King Soopers every month, beginning over seven years ago; they were our second largest distribution point.

We founded the Independent in 1993 because we believed that many viewpoints were not being heard, let alone debated, in Colorado Springs, and that our community would be a more vibrant, inclusive, tolerant and democratic place if a self-supporting, locally owned alternative newspaper was in place, offering a forum for the lively exchange of ideas.

No one is forced to pick up the Independent. If you don't like what we write, don't pick us up -- or better yet, do what officials from Focus on the Family, Colorado for Family Values, the American Family Association, and even Doug Bruce have done in the past -- write a guest op-ed or a letter to the editor. If it addresses issues or opinions previously put forth in the paper, it is likely to be published.

In response to King Soopers' action, we have launched a positive buying campaign that we call an "unboycott." Our purpose is to show the breadth and depth of community support not only for the Independent, but also for the basic American concept of free speech and freedom of expression. We are asking people to continue to shop at King Soopers, while at the same time urging the company to respect the myriad cultural, ideological and spiritual differences of the 500,000 citizens living in our community.

King Soopers is unquestionably within their rights to distribute or not to distribute any publication. But especially in light of our city's national reputation for intolerance, it is critical that here in Colorado Springs we make an extra effort to support freedom of expression. The unfettered flow of ideas and opinions between a multitude of voices is the best way we can honor the time-honored principles set forth by the founding fathers of our country.

Later this week we will meet with King Soopers' Denver managers to learn firsthand why they banned the Independent and to discuss whether they will allow our paper back in their stores. Before they make their decision, it is crucial that they hear from the people they care about most -- their customers. We would be grateful if you take a few minutes to share your concerns with the company.

Our sincerest thanks,

-- John Weiss, Publisher
Kathryn Eastburn, Editor

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