Denver police aren’t enforcing the camping ban while the city appeals a decision against it

A judge last week said it’s unconstitutional.
2 min. read
Kennith Body stands near his tent as Denver Police officers tell people living in the encampment near Sonny Lawson Park that they need to leave. Sept. 26, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The city on Monday filed an appeal seeking to overturn a Denver County Court judge's decision ruling the city's controversial camping ban unconstitutional.

The appeal was expected after the judge's decision was announced Friday. A copy of the appeal was provided to Denverite by the City Attorney's Office, which is representing the city in the case. Andy McNulty, who is representing the man challenging the ban, said the city is trying to stop the lower court's decision from taking effect until the appeal is decided on by a higher court (Denver District Court) at a later date.

McNulty said this means the city may continue enforcing the ban. But Denver Police spokesperson Doug Schepman said in an email to Denverite on Monday that the department suspended its enforcement Friday, "pending further guidance from the Denver City Attorney's Office."

"The Department will continue to provide outreach and services to individuals experiencing homelessness," Schepman said in the email.

In his decision, Denver County Judge Johnny Barajas found the ban to be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. The amendment prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." The case challenging the ban was lodged by Jerry Burton, an advocate for people experiencing homelessness.

City Attorney's Office spokesperson Ryan Luby said in a statement to Denverite on Monday their request is seeking a stay of execution for the lower court's decision, which would suspend the decision.

"We are still exploring our options and next steps, but it is important to remember that this is a narrow ruling on a criminal matter," Luby said in the statement. "The City will continue to enforce its ordinances, including those necessary to protect public health and safety."

This story has been updated with a statement from Denver Police and the City Attorney's Office. 

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