Month: July 2015

Let the People Sit! Colorado Springs proposing Sit/lie Ban in Downtown

Colorado Springs is considering a proposal to make it illegal to sit or lie down in downtown Colorado Springs. Making the basic and necessary act of sitting illegal in downtown areas is inhumane, ineffective, costly and a violation of human rights. All people have to sit–no one can constantly be on the move–but with laws against sitting, continuously walking becomes the only legal thing to do. People who do not have the money to purchase things and spend time inside private businesses and people who do not have private homes in which to rest, have a particular need to sit and rest in public spaces.

Contact Colorado Springs City Council and Mayor Suthers TODAY and let them know why this ban on sitting is harmful to the people! See sample letter supporting the right to sit.

Email Colorado Springs City Council at  AllCouncil@springsgov.com

The Sit/Lie ordinance will first be discussed in City Council work session on Monday August 24th 1pm at City Hall 107 N. Nevada Avenue Colorado Springs, CO.

Laws against sitting in downtown areas have spread across the United States in recent years, even as lawsuits and legislation have been challenging these laws. The Colorado Right to Rest Act, which was heard in the legislature this last session and was one of three such bills introduced in three states, declared the act of sitting in public space a right that all people must have. The Right to Rest Act will be back in the legislature in 2016 with the goal of protecting acts of rest and survival in public.

Bans on sitting in downtown areas are driven by the desire to move people without money or housing–the very people who most need to rest in public spaceout of central business areas and away from those with resources. Furthermore, as can be seen in cities like Denver, which has a sit/lie ordinance, these bans are utterly ineffective even in achieving this nefarious goal of moving people out of central business areas. Instead, these laws cost cities money in increased policing, court and jail costs. On average, a city spends approximately $87 per day to incarcerate a person. In Larimer County Colorado there were over 3000 bookings of people who are homeless which has entailed over 8 million in public costs. Colorado Springs currently spends large sums of money policing and incarcerating people for necessary life-sustaining acts such as sleeping, panhandling, and urinating without access to bathrooms. This was brought to attention in October 2014 when the city began placing area restrictions for the downtown area on “repeat offenders” of these “crimes” – all 12 individuals facing the area restriction were homeless. If a sit/lie ban is passed in Colorado Springs the city will spend even more money policing and incarcerating people for non-harmful, life-sustaining acts including the most basic act of sitting.

Sit/Lie bans follow in a mean-spirited history of segregation. These bans on sitting in certain downtown areas are eerily similar to Jim Crow laws which made it illegal for people of color to sit at the same counters or buses with white people. These laws were seen to be wrong and were overturned. We must do the same with laws against sitting in downtown areas and allow all people to sit in public together.

See this article from Honolulu regarding how problematic and ineffective their Sit/Lie Ban has been. http://hawaiiindependent.net/story/study-shows-sit-lie-laws-have-worsened-honolulus-houseless-problem

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Sweep Trash Not People

Sweep Trash Not People
July 12-18th
Along the Cherry Creek and Platte River
DHOL would like to help in the efforts of a clean-up
BEFORE THE COPS GET THERE!
That doesn’t involve
MOVING PEOPLE ALONG.
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These sweeps force people out of their ‘homes’ along the river; they end in loss of needed belongings; and they are totally ineffective. In Fort Collins, officials have recognized the ineffectiveness of these approaches and are considering amending their camping ban and anti-car sleeping law to reduce the tickets, “move alongs,” and sweeps because, as Police Services Deputy Chief Jerry Schiager said, he’s not sure that enforcement “was really that helpful” last year. It is time for Denver to stop sweeping people along.
Contact us for more details in the Sweep Trash not People Campaign
See article about the cycle of sweeps, loss of belongings, and other harm in recent Berkeley sweeps http://www.dailycal.org/2015/07/08/homeless-berkeley-must-rebuild-police-remove-property/
contact us – info@denverhomelessoutloud.org – 720-940-5291
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Funeral For Human Dignity Monday June 13

Funeral For Human Dignity

Date: Monday, July 13, 2015

Time: 5:30 PM

Location: Park and Welton, in front of the locked public bathroom.

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In June of 2014, Denver’s City Council Government and Finance Committee allocated 1.8 million dollars to increase downtown policing. The new top activities to be criminalized were, according to Police Chief Robert White, panhandling, smoking weed, and public urination. Though the increased policing was said not to be intended to negatively affect people experiencing homelessness in Denver, it inevitably criminalized their basic human needs. One year later, the increase in police and subsequent ticketing has not improved the condition of people without housing, tourists, and downtown residents.

The criminalization of urinating in public has sadly overlooked the real problem: access to public restrooms. Public restrooms are currently locked and inaccessible. Although 2.13 million dollars were spent revitalizing parks, no public restrooms were built during that time and existing ones were not unlocked. A move to unlock public restrooms will not only save the city money in enforcement but also will diminish the underlying problem of public urination. More importantly, opening existing restrooms to the public will recognize the inherent human dignity of all people, which includes people who are homeless. In the current state, Denver residents are afforded no such thing.

Denver Homeless Out Loud finds it appalling and unconstitutional that the city of Denver has been unable to provide restrooms for its people and has instead criminalized a bodily act that a person cannot control. In order to speak out against this, Denver Homeless Out Loud is hosting a Funeral for Human Dignity in front of the locked public restroom on the corner of Welton and Park Street. The event, complete with liturgy, music, and formal funeral procession, will take place Monday July 13th, 2015 at 5:30 PM. All are welcome and encouraged to wear black. Denver Homeless Out Loud believes all people should have access to a restroom. No one should have to urinate in public because of an inaccessible bathroom. It is with great hope that the city will reconsider its choices in order to better reflect the needs of the community it serves. Perhaps next summer, rather than demanding human dignity, we will be celebrating it.