$1.8 Million approved for police to increase enforcement against sleeping, peeing, asking for help, and otherwise trying to survive: On Monday we stood together to say NO!

Media coverage of our march and speak out against the 1.8M for more cops

Channel 7 News

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denver-city-council-debates-18m-for-extra-police-patrols-in-lower-lodo-and-along-16th-street-mall?utm_source=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_campaign=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_medium=email

Westword

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/06/denver_homeless_rally_more_police_ballpark_16th_street_mall.php?utm_source=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_campaign=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_medium=email no more cops marchno more cops march 2no more cops march 4no more cops speak outno more cops speak out 2no more cops speak out 3

 

Take a Stand Against Excess Criminalization! Homes Not Jail!

flyerpicturecitycouncil

City Council is proposing to spend 1.8 million taxpayer dollars to significantly increase policing downtown.

A top priority is policing people for the “criminal acts” of being homeless – including but not limited to, not having anindoor place to sleep, urinate or smoke weed, and asking for help (panhandling) – instead of using this 1.8 million for housing, bathrooms, or jobs. $900,000 of this will go to “estimated increased arrest and detention costs” and they estimated “330 additional arrests.”

The Downtown Denver Business Partnership, Business Improvement District, and VISIT Denver are throwing down an additional 160,000 dollars directly to the Denver Police Department to heavily police the mall.

This is happening at a time that Denver Police are facing numerous investigations on a Federal and State level for increasing amounts of improper conducts and abuse of powers.

Being harassed by police, ticketed, arrested, and spending time in jail for basic acts of survival increases homelessness and infringes on basic human and Constitutional rights.

Join us Monday June 23th at 3:30p.m. at Skyline Park (16th and Arapahoe) to walk the mall and unite at the front of the City Council building at 4:30 p.m. to take a stand and speak out not just for the rights of homeless people, but for all people’s rights. Then join us at the City Council Meeting at 5:30p.m.

 

Organized by Denver Homeless Out Loud - denverhomelessoutloud.org in colaboration with Colorado Progressive Coalition – progressivecoalition.org

The $1.8 million blanket

By Ray Lyall

On Wednesday June 4th Mayor Michael Hancock introduced BR14-0440 at the Government and Finance subcommittee. For a special allocation for more police officers in downtown areas and expected incarceration costs.

April 21, 2014 The Denver Post reported.
“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday promised stepped up police patrols andl clean up measures in down towns Ballpark neighborhoods to sweeten a contentious HOMELESS day center project.”

“He (Mayor Hancock) pledged in a letter to the city council to seek a budget request to pay for those efforts.”

Then on May 19, 2014.
The Denver Post reported.

“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is delivering on a promise of more downtown police officers and other efforts to clean up the area.”

and

“To immediately address increased demands and current issues.” In police district 6.
Mayor Michael Hancock.
The Denver Post.

I have some very serious issues concerning the Mayors budget request of $1.8million to the Denver city council to increase cops in the three so called “hot spots” of Downtown, Lodo and Ballpark

These increased demands would seem to suggest that the “issues” are connected with the HOMELESS alone and have little or nothing to do with the local businesses, Ballpark residents, kids in the area, patrons of establishments in the area, the general public and/or the rapid growth of Lodo, downtown and Ballpark  over the past four years.

The Denver Post.
“Because of the rapid growth that we’ve had (downtown) we haven’t been able to stay ahead of what we need”
Council woman Judy Montero

and

“Burgeoning growth”
Mayor Michael Hancock

One more time.
“increased demands”.
Something has increased. More people? More building? More businesses? No not at all. There’s just more HOMELESS people.

Now, It’s my understanding that approximately half of this budget will be spent on an additional ten cops in district 6 and, that the remainder of the $1.8 million will go to “cover an anticipated increase in arrests and detention costs.” specifically 330 detainees.  how do they know that? Are they only going to arrest 330 individuals? what if there are 332 crimes committed downtown next year?
Chief White at the government and finance meeting that the police would give warnings and hand out citations before arresting people. So, where does the 330 come from and what’s the additional $900.000 for? if there are no detainees to detain.

It’s pretty clear to me, That this is just a blanket (pun intended) to give the Denver police another means to arrest more of the HOMELESS. So, as long as I don’t smoke pot, I don’t do what I can to get a buck, I don’t urinate or I don’t sleep, I ll be able to live and thrive with an over whelming Quality Of Life. I guess I should say Thank You to Ballpark, Denver Downtown Partnership and all the other fine people  concerned with my well being.

Now, I’m not strictly opposed to more cops downtown, or in Lodo or even in the Ballpark neighborhood. More people simply means more problems.
On Monday June 2 at approximately 2:30 am, while three people were getting hamburgers, a triple shooting occurred.

BTW There’s no fast food places at all in this area of Council district 9.

Let’s look at some of the “long standing problems” that the Denver post seems to suggest that the Mayor and his office and the city council believe are “connected to the HOMELESS”
Oh wait, there are no specific mentions of any problems. Maybe they mean more beds, jobs and rest rooms. Those are some” long standing problems connected to the HOMELESS.
Although the article in the post doesn’t mention any specific problems. At the government and finance committee it was made all to clear. The issues specifically mentioned were public pot smoking, panhandling and public urination. These are pretty specific issues aimed at a pretty specific group of people (HOMELESS) in order to pacify another specific group of people. (Some people living in the Ballpark neighborhood )  Say it with me, Dis-Crim-In-Ation.

And now to consider these serious issues with the appropriate respect.
let’s start with the last issue, being that it’s not a favorite subject.
Public Urination.
Can I just state the obvious here? If You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go!! It happens to all of us. Sometimes there is either no place to go or they are all locked tight. Try this,  google.   ” peeing in public”. no, really go ahead I’ll wait…….there’s a lot of videos right?
My point is, if you’ve just left an establishment after drinking a few beers with your friends at 2:00 am and find you have to go. You,re going to find a place to go. I’m sure some of you are blushing right about now. Show of hands please.
I’ll be honest. I’ve done it. A few blocks from the stadium. back when I was an Insider. (One who lives in a home.) They just can’t all be HOMELESS.
And just what happened to all those Portapots on and around the Platte?
So, while the city is working on getting us some public rest rooms this week. they might want to think about some of those nice trash cans also.
Next up Panhandling.
Panhandling is to ask strangers for money in a public place. And here’s a real shocker. Hey Denver Downtown Partnership, Pay attention. Not all panhandlers are HOMELESS. The Northeast Ohio coalition for the HOMELESS estimates that only 40%–60% of panhandlers are HOMELESS. Then there are the Green Peace people and the save the rain forest people and the save the tigers people and the save a tree kill a lumber jack people and………Well, You get the point. They,re just not all HOMELESS.
BTW The money that those strangers give to the panhandlers does not get sent off to our secret HOMELESS people bank. That money goes right back into the community. Whether it’s spent on sandwiches, cigarettes or booze. the money gets spent here in local stores.

I saved the best for last.
Public Pot Smoking
I need to confess, I don’t smoke pot, No really, I don’t…No Really!! Public pot smoking is a bad idea. but, drinking ten beers at a Rockies game and driving the kids home is a bad idea. Drinking ten beers at a Broncos game and driving your buddies home is a bad idea. Drinking alcohol until 2:00 am is a bad idea. And apparently buying hamburgers at 2:30 am in police district 6 in Denver is a Really Bad Idea. Its not just some of the HOMELESS with a bad idea.

Then there’s the $56.00 a day in jail costs. I certainly don’t have that kind of money!
that’s ok the Denver tax payers will pick up the tab. But not the rich folks.
They just get to make the rules

Oh and btw if you happen to have an extra $100.000 laying around you can buy your own police force. just ask the Downtown Denver Partnership.
That’s right Denver Downtown Partnership gave the Denver Police Department $100.000 to add a cop every block Downtown.

Ten More Cops for What? Tell City Council to Vote No to more Policing and Yes to more Homes and Bathrooms

Ten More Cops for What?

1.8 million additional city dollars have been proposed to spend policing downtown. A top priority is policing people for the “criminal acts” of being homeless – including but not limited to, not having an indoor place to sleep or urinate, and asking for money when you have none – instead of using this 1.8 million for housing, bathrooms, or jobs.

On Wednesday June 4th, 2014 Denver City Council Government and Finance Committee passed a budget request for “$1.8 million Supplemental Appropriation for Denver Police and Sheriff Department for Increased Security Presence.” This budget request will now be moving toward approval from the whole City Council. (The date for this hearing is still unknown.)

If this proposal passes, $900,000 would be spent to add 10 police officers to patrol the so-called “hot spots” of the 16th St Mall, the Ballpark neighborhood (where St Francis Center, the Rescue Mission, Samaritan House, and many other services for homeless people are located), and Lodo. Another $900,000 would be spent on estimated increased “arrest and detention costs.” Alongside this $1.8 million of city budget, the Downtown Denver Partnership has already spent $100,000 of their own money to hire one additional officer per block along the 16th St Mall.

This request for additional policing was made by Mayor Hancock in an effort to accommodate the complaints of the Ballpark Neighborhood Association about the Lawrence St Community Center addition to the Denver Rescue Mission recently approved by the City Council.

Of course it would be unconstitutional discrimination for city officials to direct the police force specifically to target people who are homeless because of their housing status. So instead they explain that it is not about homelessness itself but about “criminal activity.” What sort of criminal activity? Panhandling, smoking weed, and public urination were three top crimes mentioned by Denver Police Chief Robert White. Plus of course the crime of sleeping in public. Laws against sitting/lying down along the 16th St Mall, and “loitering” in various areas will also be enforced.

So while Chief White and others can claim “homelessness is not a crime,” trying to exist and survive in public space is a crime. If you don’t have a home of your own to sleep, sit, or urinate in, and the only place you have to do these things is public space, than you are by default a criminal.

Now lets step back for a second and ask: “What are the appropriate solutions for the problems at hand?” For, as Council Woman Kniech so aptly put it, “We won’t solve what this area is upset about if we don’t spend the money on [solutions] and as quickly and aggressively as we spent this supplemental.”

If panhandling is a problem, the solution would be for people who are panhandling because they lack money to be offered employment or a disability check that actually meets their needs.

-58 people could be hired full time at $15 hr for a year for the $1.8 million the City is proposing to spend on police. For example, people could be hired to clean the streets if that is a real issue. (In New York City, San Rafael (CA) and elsewhere, programs successfully employ unhoused people to remove trash, shovel snow and keep downtown business areas clean. See AceNewYork.org, doe.organd streetsteam.org.)

If public urination is a problem, the solution would be to have accessible public bathrooms for people to urinate in.

-In Seattle it costs $600,000 per year to maintain one “Urban Rest Stop” which have bathrooms, showers, washing machines, and basic toiletries. Denver could maintain three “Urban Rest Stops” at that price with the 1.8 million proposed to spend on policing. (See http://www.urbanreststop.org/ for more information)

-In Portland it costs $90,000 to purchase and install one Portland Loo (a solar powered toilet and sink) and $14,400 to maintain it for a year. Denver could buy 17 Portland Loos and maintain them for a year for the $1.8 million. (See https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/59293 for more information)

-Right here in Denver’s own Washington Park the city is spending $160,000 for bathrooms (See http://www.westword.com/2014-05-15/news/rangers-in-denver-parks/) Why can the city afford to upkeep and clean the bathrooms in Wash Park and not downtown where people who are homeless have no place to use a restroom?

If sleeping in public places is a problem, the solution would be to offer people housing they can afford.

-206 single people could be given a studio apartment for a year for the $1.8 million to be spent policing people sleeping outside. (If someone has no income, rent for a studio apartment would cost the city about $725 per month, including utilities, or $8700 a year)

 

-360 “Tiny Homes” could be built at $5,000 a piece (as is done in Madison, Wisconsin) for this 1.8 million (See http://occupymadisoninc.com/ or http://quixotevillage.com/ for more information)

 

 

Take Action!

Email City Council Members asking them to vote no on CB14-440

albus.brooks@denvergov.org

charlie.brown@denvergov.org

chris.nevitt@denvergov.org

christopher.herndon@denvergov.org

deborah.ortega@denvergov.org

jeanne.faatz@denvergov.org

jeanne.robb@denvergov.org

judy.montero@denvergov.org

kniechatlarge@denvergov.org

marybeth.susman@denvergov.org

paul.lopez@denvergov.org

peggy.lehmann@denvergov.org

susan.shepherd@denvergov.org

Write a letter to the editor by emailing openforum@denverpost.com(straight text only; no attachments).Letters guidelines: The Post welcomes letters up to 150 words on topics of general interest. Letters must include full name, home address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited for length, grammar and accuracy.

Come to a Denver Homeless Out Loud meeting to organize to stand against this proposal

Wednesdays 4:45pm at American Friends Service Committee room in the Court House Square apartment building, 901 W 14th Avenue.

Come speak out at City Council Meeting when this proposal will be heard (date still unknown – keep an eye out for this announcement).

Colorado Homeless People’s Rights Survey Training and Kickoff!

Colorado Homeless People’s Rights Survey Training and Kickoff!

Sunday May 18th at 1-3pm

at El Centro Humanitario (2260 California Street, Denver, CO)

 

As laws pass across the country criminalizing acts of survival like sleeping, sitting, and sharing food in public space, and as discrimination against people based on their housing status continues to prevent homeless people’s access to employment, public bathrooms, voting, and equal protection under the law — “Homeless Bills of Rights” which legally protect people’s rights to sleep, sit, give/receive food, work, vote, and survive have become necessary.

Thus far five states have passed Homeless Bills of Rights. More states are working toward Homeless Bills of Rights that will stop the criminalization of homelessness as enforced through city laws.

Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) believes that any legislation protecting the rights of homeless people, must be grounded in the experience and priorities of people on the front lines of homelessness. So here in Colorado, our first step is to gather information from people experiencing homelessness in Colorado about what human and civil rights are being violated. With this information, we will work toward a Colorado Homeless Bill of Rights that protects these rights.

The Colorado Homeless People’s Rights Survey is being coordinated by DHOL in conjunction with organizations across Colorado. The survey we have drafted asks 25 questions about how laws (such as those against sleeping, asking for donations, and loitering) are affecting people; how police and private security officers are treating people; what is happening in court; what access to shelter or other needed resources looks like; and what barriers people are facing in getting housing and employment.

In order to gather this information from people who are homeless in Denver and all across Colorado we need people to help ask these questions!

The first surveyor training and kickoff event will be held Sunday May 18th at 1-3pm at El Centro Humanitario (2260 California Street, Denver, CO) If you want to help survey people, or even if you just want to learn more about this work toward a Homeless Bill of Rights, you are invited! 

DHOL Endorses WRAP Homeless Bill of Right Campaign in California and Oregon

On April 30 Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) unanimously voted to endorse the Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign for California and Oregon organized by Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). This endorsement states as follows:

Our organization supports a Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign in California & Oregon that will create bills to protect the following rights and prohibit the enforcement of any local laws that violate these rights: (1) the Right to move freely, rest, sleep, and pray in public spaces; (2) the Right to occupy a vehicle; (3) the Right to share and eat food in public; (4) the Right to legal counsel for infractions; and (5) the Right to 24-hour access to existing hygiene facilities.

We are excited to stand with WRAP in California and Oregon to build a movement that ensures homeless people’s rights! As we kick off the Colorado Homeless People’s Rights Survey and gather information from people experiencing homelessness about what human and civil rights are being violated, we hope to follow in WRAP’s foot steps and call for a Homeless Bill of Rights for Colorado that stops the criminalization of homelessness.

For more information on WRAP’s Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign in California and Oregon see http://www.wraphome.org/work/civil-rights-campaign#bill-of-rights

For more information on our work toward a Homeless Bill of Rights here in Colorado see our “Homeless Bill of Rights” page.