Time and again, Denver police have moved people off the sidewalks at Park Avenue West and Broadway in the Ballpark neighborhood, and people have moved right back in. On Monday night, roughly a dozen homeless activists instead planted themselves before the seat of power, camping in front of the Denver City and County Building.
“For months we’ve been saying … we’re bringing it to the mayor’s front steps,” said Terese Howard, an activist with Denver Homeless Out Loud.
Howard said activists had considered taking this step before. When they were yet again pushed out of the Triangle area Monday afternoon, multiple people decided it was time to go to city hall.
Two people were issued tickets under the camping ban at the Triangle, an unusual step for Denver police who usually tell homeless people to “move along.” The tickets carry penalties of up to 364 days in jail and fines up to $999. They also give activists another opportunity to fight the camping ban — in court. (One person, PJ D’Amico, was arrested for refusing to leave a taped-off area, Chris Walker reported for Westword.)
“This has gotta stop,” said Jerry Burton, who received one of the citations. “We’re humans too. God didn’t make no scrap.”
Denver police issued warnings to the protestors a little before midnight for violating the camping ban and handed out flyers for services.
Denver police Officer Jason Rivera, a member of the District 6 neighborhood impact team, told the protestors he was sympathetic to their situation, but the encampments in the Triangle had also attracted drug dealers — not necessarily homeless themselves — and created safety problems for nearby residents.
As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, there had been as many as eight police cars on deck to disperse the protest. About half the camp had vacated, and nobody had been arrested. At least one new camping ban ticket had been issued.
Update: Denver police said Tuesday that three people left after receiving verbal warnings, another six left after receiving written warnings and three people were issued summonses for violating the camping ban. Nobody was arrested. Everyone had left by morning.
Denver Homeless Out Loud was live on Facebook to share their experience.
Kevin J. Beaty contributed to this report.