Adam Rayes | KUNC

Adam Rayes

Reporter, Rural and Small Communities

Credit Ashley Jefcoat / KUNC

As KUNC’s rural and small communities reporter, I help further the newsroom’s efforts to ensure that all of Northern Colorado’s communities are heard. These communities have so much to tell us about themselves and Colorado as a whole. They’re all unique and simultaneously a crucial part of a bigger picture. Many of these communities exist in a news desert; their stories aren’t being told and they’re disconnected from each other and the rest of the region. I hope to bring more stories and voices from these places to elevate the conversation.

Before coming to KUNC, I worked at Michigan Radio where I was a production assistant for the statewide newsmagazine, Stateside. I graduated after just three years at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is where I fell in love with journalism.

I love cooking my dad’s traditional Syrian recipes, even though my attempts are never up to his standards. I enjoy gaming, running, tasting new beers, watching anything Sam Esmail makes and I hope to gain new hobbies here in Colorado, like skiing.

Minneapolis police officer with a light blue shirt wears a body camera.
Tony Webster / CC BY-SA 2.0

Body-worn cameras have long been a staple of police reform efforts. Activists, civil rights groups, politicians and law enforcement value the accountability boost they provide. The cameras have a wide range of uses and some rather unclear impacts on police-community interactions.

Rae Solomon / KUNC

For many Black communities, George Floyd’s death brought a long-time distrust of whole police departments as well as individual officers back to the forefront. Now historic crowds of protesters across the Front Range and the country are continuing to call for massive reform, if not the abolishment or defunding, of police departments. 

“As far as a lack of trust,” said Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Tanya Dobbins of the Denver Sheriff’s Department with a sigh and a long pause. “Unfortunately we earned it. Just like we’ll have to earn for the community to trust us again.”

Adam Rayes / KUNC

Following the death of George Floyd, protesters in Denver, the Front Range and across the nation have been marching through the streets demanding police reform.

“I hate to say this but I know exactly how George’s family feels,” said Natalia Marshall, referring to George Floyd’s family, during a recent press conference at the state Capitol. Her uncle, Michael Marshall, was killed by deputies in a Denver jail in 2015. 


Adam Rayes / KUNC

From on top of a trailer mounted with massive speakers, Denver Public School Board Secretary Tay Anderson stopped a Black Lives Matter march a few blocks in on Sunday to make an announcement many were hoping for.

“Director Jennifer Bacon (vice president of the school board) and I are proud to announce we have the votes to officially end the contract with DPD (Denver Police Department) and DPS (Denver Public Schools),” Anderson said to cheers and applause. “We still will have safe and welcoming schools for all. It is our time to end the school to prison pipeline with bold actions.”

Rae Soloman/KUNC

Protesters plan to take to the streets across the Front Range again this weekend, with calls on social media for mass gatherings in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Greeley, amid continued demands for reform to Colorado’s justice system ignited by the death of George Floyd.

The planned demonstrations follow a week of mostly peaceful activism in the region, which saw declines in incidents of vandalism, looting and arrests. Some elected officials also outlined promises to work with protesters to make lasting change.

Rae Solomon/KUNC

Protests remained peaceful in Denver until about midnight, when the arrival of armored police at the state’s Capitol stoked tensions among the small group of protesters still present despite the city’s 9 p.m. curfew. Clashes broke out as a few individuals lobbed glass and fireworks at encroaching police vehicles, which, in return, sent tear gas flying at the crowd.

Adam Rayes / KUNC

Tensions between Denver Police and people protesting the death of George Floyd ratcheted up again Sunday night as clashes broke out. Protests were peaceful throughout the day but after the city’s 8 p.m. curfew police fired tear gas at protesters who were also throwing fireworks and other objects at them.

KUNC Composite Illustration

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the state, a rural corner of northeastern Colorado has become home to the highest rate of cases of any county due to an outbreak at the Sterling Correctional Facility, a large state prison.

Dora Reyes sits at a desk with bookshelves full of learning materials behind her. The classroom is devoid of students.
Adam Rayes / KUNC

Sandy Harper usually works as a paraprofessional, meaning she helps teachers by giving direct assistance to a group of special education students in the Akron R-1 Public School District. But these days, she’s responsible for just one student: her 12-year-old granddaughter.

“We talked about it and I told her I was her teacher when we’re doing schoolwork. And that’s what it had to be,” she said.

Crop rows
Lance Cheung / USDA

In this pandemic, we keep hearing that the food supply is fine.

That, obviously, couldn’t be true without the work of farmers. But they don’t do it alone.

“The workers that we work with, they’re essential,” said Harrison Topp, a fruit farmer on the Western Slope and director of membership for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.  “I mean, they’re declared essential because of the COVID situation but they were essential before the COVID situation.”