Why is the name of this restaurant such a big deal?: An Update and Call to Action

The comments in response to recent posts have shared a common theme: “Why is the name of this restaurant such a big deal?”

My friend and CSU colleague Antonette Aragon (recently interviewed by Colorlines.com here) has asked that I share the following information that provides some context about why the term “illegal” has been deemed inappropriate, even by the Supreme Court. These links make it clear that these objections are not a mere instance of political correctness. I believe you’ll also see the respectful tenor of the group of Fort Collins citizens who are concerned about the name and–since at least one person asked–note in the 8th bullet point that a formal protest has not been planned.

Finally, if you’re curious about what you can do to express your support, Antonette, on behalf of the group who started this dialogue (and it is a dialogue), shares some suggestions, which I also list below.


We welcome Illegal Pete’s Restaurant coming to Fort Collins and we understand that owner Pete Turner is a good business person in the other communities where his business is located, often acts in ways that further the good of the community and that he did not name his restaurant with any bad intentions towards immigrants or others. But, within the current social-cultural context, the term “illegal” is offensive.

• The word “illegal,” when applied to any human being is dehumanizing and offensive (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6GcPft7mqU ).
• The word “illegal” is racist. It is racially coded (https://implicit.harvard.edu/…/implicit.harvard.edu/implicit and http://www.tolerance.org/hiddenbias ).
• The proposed location of the restaurant is where many businesses establishments displayed “No Dogs or Mexicans.”
• Regardless of the reason Pete Turner named his restaurant, it is hurtful to many people, and creates an unwelcoming environment.
• We can never move forward on things like eliminating hate crimes or passing immigration reform until we address the language we use.
• The word “illegal,” when applied to humans promotes hate and poisons the dialogue about immigration reform, confuses the immigration debate.
• Many in mainstream media as well as the U.S. Supreme Court have refrained from using the term “illegal” to describe immigrants (http://www.youtube.com/watch… and http://www.democracynow.org/…/4/4/drop_the_i_word_in_victory ).
• We are NOT planning a protest because we are hopeful that Pete will do the right thing and change the name of his restaurant.
• Anti-immigrant groups (i.e. FAIR) and others recommended the use of “illegal immigrants” to encourage an understanding of immigrants as criminals (http://www.fairus.org/ ).


  1. Please send comments to Pete’s site http://illegalpetes.com/about/contact or call Pete’s to express your concerns: (303) 440-3955.
  2. Blog, tweet, use social media. Share your concerns on the radio. Talk to friends!
  3. Sign public declarations by organizations and institutions.
  4. Send a letter to your city (cityleaders@fcgov.com – Fort Collins) and state representatives.
  5. Celebrate the opening of the restaurant with a new name.
  6. For more information contact: The Fort Collins Community Action Network, info@fccan.org, 970.419.8944

3 thoughts on “Why is the name of this restaurant such a big deal?: An Update and Call to Action

  1. Seer Clearly says:

    Completely ridiculous. One has to consider intent when evaluating words. This is a paroxysm of self-indulgent PC-ism that doesn’t serve the community, those who are raising it as an issue, and especially a well-intentioned business owner bringing successful diversity in food to the community.

    • Brett Pavel says:

      Seer. let me tell you a personal true story. When I was only four years old my parents got me a rescue pet dog. I named him ‘Boy”. This was Oakland, California in the 1950’s. An older black woman lived by herself next door, and every time I called that dog…or my mom called that dog….that lady slammed her window or back door. Years later my mom told me she had escaped Mississippi without her husband who was lynched before the war. Guess my intent was ok, ya think? No reason to think why she would have been offended, ya think?

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