Denver, CO – On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, despite below freezing temperatures and snowfall, daily sweeps of unhoused Denver residents continued.
As usual, Denver police, city workers, and park rangers descended on people keeping warm under blankets and inside their tents and told them to “move along” or risk getting a camping ban ticket.
The Unauthorized Camping Ordinance, or camping ban, states:
It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any private [or public] property without the express written consent of the property owner or the owner’s agent, and only in such locations where camping may be conducted in accordance with any other applicable city law.
‘Camp’ means to reside or dwell temporarily in a place, with shelter. The term ‘shelter’ includes, without limitation, any tent, tarpaulin, lean-to, sleeping bag, bedroll, blankets, or any form of cover or protection from the elements other than clothing. The term ‘reside or dwell’ includes, without limitation, conducting such activities as eating, sleeping, or the storage of personal possessions.”
According to Marcus Hyde, a member of local advocacy organization Denver Homeless Out Loud:
We know that these laws are meant to help push development by using police to scare and intimidate, harass and arrest anyone that developers don’t want to see in front of their new condos.”
Eric Jackson, an unhoused Denver resident, left his spot along the South Platte River, where he has been surviving for many months, to attend to some business downtown. Two of his friends were watching over his belongings when park rangers approached them and asked them to remove their belongings from the area and “move along.”
Even though Jackson’s friends were there watching his belongings, the park rangers told them since Jackson was not there, it was abandoned property. Therefore they entered Jackson’s tent without consent and began throwing everything that was inside of it outside onto the ground, leaving trash and debris everywhere.
The park rangers took Jackson’s sleeping bag, blankets, and his tent, yet left all of his other property on the ground. Jackson and his comrades believe the park rangers only took the survival gear to force them into shelters or force them to move farther out of sight and out of mind.
Jackson wrote the following letter to Supervisor Park Ranger Eric Knopinski:
Jackson has posted four videos on his YouTube page in the past two months showing sweeps along the South Platte River and exposing how the city treats its unhoused population.
Below is a video he made on November 7, when he arrived back at his spot on the river:
Jackson has not received a response from Knopinski.
Another documented instance of survival gear being taken is our video below, from November 28, 2016, of Denver police confiscating sleeping bags and tents as “evidence of illegal camping.”
As sweeps continue, so does the class-action lawsuit against the city of Denver for carrying them out.
On Monday, August 14, 2017, Jason Flores-Williams and Andy McNulty, who have been representing the plaintiff class pro-bono, submitted a motion for summary judgement (PDF) to the United States District Court of Colorado, Judge William J. Martinez.
A motion for summary judgment asks the court to decide the case, before trial, in favor of the party making the motion. The party that files a motion for summary judgment is usually arguing that there is no material question of fact and that the opposing party cannot win under the law.
On Monday evening, the attorney’s representing the city of Denver also submitted a motion for summary judgement (PDF) to Judge Martinez. Therefore, both parties are hoping the Judge will rule in their favor considering all of the same evidence, prior to a trial.
The last pretrial hearing for the lawsuit was scheduled for November 8, 2017, however because the judge has yet to rule on the motions for summary judgement, the hearing has been postponed. No date has been decided.
Unicorn Riot will continue coverage of the class-action lawsuit against Denver, and other issues affecting Denver’s unhoused population, see the links below for our past coverage.
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Unicorn Riot coverage on Denver’s housing crisis:
- Denver’s ‘Right to Survive’ Ballot Initiative Voted Down (May 9, 2019)
- “Unhealthy By Design:” CU Denver’s New Report About Camping Ban (April 13, 2019)
- Denver Paid Clean-Up Company $400,000 to Help in Houseless Sweeps (Nov. 27, 2018)
- Denver Police, City Workers Throw Away Belongings Amid Lawsuit (July 16, 2018)
- Class-Action Against Denver for Criminalizing Houselessness Moves Forward (May 11, 2018)
- Fourth Push for Homeless Bill of Rights in Colorado Legislature (March 14, 2018)
- First Lawsuit Hearing for Mobile Home Park Residents Suing Park Owners (March 2, 2018)
- Denver’s First Tiny Home Village ‘Beloved Community Village’ Turns Six Months Old (January 19, 2018)
- Denver Park Rangers Take Sleeping Bag, Tent from Houseless Man in 25 Degree Weather (November 12, 2017)
- Eighty Families Offer to Purchase Mobile Home Park to Avoid Eviction (September 25, 2017)
- Denver Human Rights Activist and Community Organizer, Terese Howard, Faces Up to 30 Days in Jail (August 24, 2017)
- Class-Action Lawsuit Against Denver: Motions Filed for Summary Judgement (August 15, 2017)
- U.S. District Court of CO Certifies One of the Largest Houseless Class-Actions in U.S. History (April 29, 2017)
- Three Convicted in Camping Ban Trial Two Weeks Ahead of Right to Rest Act Hearing (April 18, 2017)
- Three Co-Defendants Fight Denver’s Camping Ban in Court (April 4, 2017)
- Third Push for Homeless Bill of Rights in Colorado Legislature (Feb. 24, 2017)
- With Mayor’s Approval, Denver Continues Survival Gear Confiscations (Dec. 16, 2016)
- Denver to Continue Confiscating Survival Gear of Unhoused Under Encumbrance Ordinance, to Stop Under Camping Ban (Dec. 11, 2016)
- Denver Intensifies Sweeps of Unhoused Community and Confiscates Survival Gear; Parade of Rights Rally (Dec. 4, 2016)
- First Hearing in Class-Action Against Denver for Violating Human Rights (Oct. 14, 2016)
- Class-Action Lawsuit Against Denver: Motion Filed for Recusal of Judge Shaffer (Sept. 22, 2016)
- People Without Housing File Lawsuit Against the City of Denver (Aug. 27, 2016)
- Denver’s Affordable Housing Displaces Low-Income Residents (June 20, 2016)
- City of Denver Cracks Down on its Homeless Community (Dec. 20, 2015)
- Homeless Forced Out of Tents and into Snowstorm by Denver Police (Dec. 16, 2015)
- Resurrection Village: Denver Police Destroy Tiny Homes and Arrest Builders (Oct. 27, 2015)