Month: April 2017

U.S. District Court Certifies One of the Largest Homeless Class Actions in American History!!!

Thursday April 27 2017, the United States District Court of Colorado, Judge William J. Martinez, certified class action status for Denver homeless persons challenging the wide-spread and systemic constitutional deprivations known as the Denver Homeless Sweeps.  It is one of the largest class actions of poor and dispossessed persons in US history.

“By granting class certification, the federal court recognized that the City of Denver has a policy focused on homeless persons,” said attorney Jason Flores-Williams. “A policy that many believe to be an immoral, unjust and unconstitutional war on the poor.”

The City of Denver, under the direction of Mayor Hancock, continues these Sweeps in effort to push homeless people out of sight into further corners and hidden places to pave the way for gentrification. Homeless people continue to have their property taken, leaving them with nothing to stay warm, and without critical paperwork and personal items.

This is a big day for all people experiencing homelessness in Denver, as the Federal Courts now recognize the wide-spread targeting of homeless persons.

More can be read on the class action lawsuit here https://denverhomelessoutloud.org/class-action-lawsuit/.

Our Fight for Right to Rest Just Grows Stronger as Committee Votes Against the Bill Again

Our Fight for Right to Rest Just Grows Stronger as Committee Votes Against the Bill Again

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday April 19, 2017, the Local Government Committee of the Colorado State Legislature voted 5 to 8 against the Right to Rest Act – the right to sleep, sit, cover oneself, share food, sleep in your own vehicle.

After three years of bringing the Right to Rest Act to the Colorado State Legislature and having our rights – our humanity – voted down, our resolve, our movement, our power just grows. We know this is a long haul struggle. History has shown us that in order to succeed in overcoming discriminatory practices, communities must stand strong together and the fight takes years.

 

This vote against humanity came at the end of an 11 hour hearing including testimony from over 60 people supporting the Right to Rest and only 5 people who testified in opposition. Person after person supporting the right to rest testified to being threatened, having their belongings stolen and being forced by police to “move along.” Lawyers, business owners, service providers and faith leaders each spoke to the unconstitutional, dehumanizing and moral impacts of criminalizing existence. And person after person testified to how this bill does not create “special rights” for homeless people, but protects the rights of all people to stand, sit, lie down, cover oneself – exist – in public spaces.

 

The Right to Rest Act, introduced through the Western Regional Advocacy Project in Colorado, California, and Oregon, aims to end all laws and practices to push certain “unwanted” communities out of public space. Our county has a long history of racist, classist laws – Jim Crow, Anti-Okie, Sundown laws – used to push certain people out of public spaces and anti-homeless ordinances are just another example.

 

The Right to Rest hearing on Wednesday was a powerful demonstration of a people who will not be hidden, silenced, or treated as less than human. For the third year in a row we packed the committee room with a collective energy that will not go away, but rather continues to grow. As homeless and poor people, we know what is really going on in the streets. In closing comments Representative Lebsock, who voted yes, said “today we heard reality versus reporting.” Reality from people living on the streets, and reporting from city officials reporting numbers of shelter beds, housing units being developed, and money being spent. Reality was spoken loud and clear – “we will continue to exist and survive in public spaces no matter how much you try to hide us.”

 

The Representatives who voted NO against the Right to Rest justified their vote by expressing concern that this bill will create a “free-for-all” with homeless people sleeping and sitting everywhere, that there will be endless lawsuits against cities, that local municipalities need local control to use “tools” to deal with their homeless population, and that they want to “solve homelessness” not create rights. They had no shame in expressing their perception of the sight of visibly homeless people as “bad for business.” They had no shame in defending businesses and cities from the potential law suits they would face – never considering that instead they could just respect people’s rights.

 

Five Representatives voted YES for the Right to Rest this year. Their vote and words of support for a bill that simply asks we be allowed to sleep, sit, not have our blankets taken, are a sign of hope and humanity! We thank Reps Lebsock, Singer, Coleman, Exum, and Valdez! Furthermore, this bill would not be real without the incredible leadership and commitment of Reps Salazar and Melton sponsoring the Right to Rest three years in a row, standing strong against internal party division, and standing up for what is right!

 

Our work does not end. As homelessness will continue to persist with more housing budget cuts in sight, and while criminalization does absolutely nothing to actually end homelessness, we will remain right here, growing in numbers, demanding justice. We have no place left to go. We have no other choice but to fight for our rights to survive. Our solidarity with each other and strength in fight against our humanity only grows. Our fight continues right now and onward in the city councils, in the federal and local courts, back at the state capitol next year, and on the streets everyday!!

Watch Live Stream of most of the hearing by Unicorn Riot Here https://livestream.com/unicornriot/events/7291299

Right to Rest Act HB 17-1314 Will be Heard in Committee Wednesday!!

Right to Rest Act HB 17-1314 Will be Heard in Committee Wednesday!!


When: Wednesday April 19th

Where: State Capitol Building (200 E Colfax Ave – Colfax and Lincoln)

Rally 12pm West Steps

Hearing 1:30pm Room 271

TAKE ACTION NOW!

https://coloradohomelessbillofrights.org/action-steps/

 

Denver, CO— On Wednesday April 19, 2017, the Colorado State Legislative Local Government Committee will be voting on the Right to Rest Act – HB 17-1314. This bill, sponsored by Representatives Salazar and Melton, would end the alarming trend of cities passing and enforcing laws that criminalize the basic civil rights of homeless individuals. The Right to Rest Act would, among other things, protect the rights of all people to move freely, rest, have privacy of one’s belonging, and eat in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle. The many laws across Colorado which infringe on these rights would be rendered null and void. This bill is about protecting all people’s human right to survive in public space and not be pushed “away” to nowhere.

 

This bill is being heard just two weeks after three people went on trial and were convicted for violation of Denver’s Unauthorized Urban Camping Ban -properly named Survival Ban – where the prosecution told defendant Randy Russell in cross examination, “You know it is illegal for you to survive in Denver.” This bill comes after a year of intensely escalated sweeps across Denver as well as sweeps in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and many cities across Colorado. This bill comes after a lawsuit was filed and is under litigation against the city of Denver for the sweeps and seizure of property. This bill comes as housing prices are at an all time high in Denver and across the nation and government assistance for low-income housing has massively decreased. We cannot afford homes yet are criminalized for living homeless.

 

The Right to Rest Act (HB 17-1314) ends the criminalization of rest and accompanying violations of basic human and civil rights for all people.

 

This legislation protects the following rights and prohibits the enforcement of any local laws that violate these rights:

  • Right to move freely, rest, sleep and be protected in a public space.

  • Right to rest in public spaces and protect oneself from the elements in a non-obstructive manner

  • Right to reasonable expectation of privacy of your property in public space

  • Right to occupy a legally parked vehicle

  • Right to share food and eat in public

 

Wednesday April 19th rally at 12noon in front of the Capitol, hearing at 1:30pm in room 271. Survival while living without a home should never be deemed a crime.

Contact:

Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

coloradohomelessbillofrights.org

wraphome.org

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Right to Rest Hearing April 19!! BE THERE!

Right to Rest Hearing April 19!!

HB 17-1314, The Colorado Right to Rest Act  is going to be heard and voted on in House Local Government Committee on Wednesday, April 19th at 1:30 in room 271, on the second floor of the State Capitol. We need you all to speak up! And BE THERE!

There will be food at the Rally at 12noon. The hearing might go late so if you can’t come until later, still come. The Capitol doors close at 5pm so it is hard to get in after that though.

Colorado state legislators Salazar and Melton introduce HB 17-1314 – The Colorado Right2Rest Act – for the third year. The Right2Rest Act is stronger, clearer, and more powerful! If HB 17-1314 passes this year – it will force the state of Colorado to abandon its practices of criminalizing homeless people for engaging in basic life-sustaining activities like sitting, lying, sleeping, resting and eating in public. The criminalization of rest must end if we are ever to turn the tide on our homelessness crisis.

Watch the camping ban in action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etCAymiuRdc

You can read the full bill language here and you can read the main talking points here

Follow These 2 Easy Steps to TAKE ACTION!

1) Send a letter of organizational support!
Click here for a sample letter.

Please send your letter on organizational letterhead, to: info@denverhomelessoutloud.org and coral@wraphome.org and all the committee members below

2) Email and call the members of the Local Government Committeeand urge them to support HB 17-1314 , the Colorado Right2Rest Act

James Coleman james.coleman.house@state.co.us 303-866-2909 Democrat
Tony Exum tony.exum.house@state.co.us 303-866-3069 Democrat
Matt Gray matt@matthewgray.us 303-866-4667 Democrat
Steve Lebsock steve.lebsock.house@state.co.us 303-866-2931 Democrat
Larry Liston larry.liston.house@state.co.us 303-866-2937 Republican
Hugh McKean hugh.mckean.house@state.co.us 303-866-2947 Republican
Clarice Navarro clarice.navarro.house@state.co.us 303-866-2905 Republican
Kim Ransom kim.ransom.house@state.co.us 303-866-2933 Republican
Paul Rosenthal paulrosenthal5280@gmail.com 303-866-2910 Democrat
Jonathan Singer jonathan.singer.house@state.co.us 303-866-2780 Democrat
Dan Thurlow danthurlow55@gmail.com 303-866-3068 Republican
Donald Valdez donald.valdez.house@state.co.us 303-866-2916 Democrat

James Wilson representativewilson@gmail.com 303-866-2747 Republican 


Sample Script:

My name is ________ and I am calling to urge you to vote YES on the Right To Rest Act. You will be hearing HB 17-1314Colorado Right To Rest Act in the Local Government Committee. This bill provides critical civil rights protections to ALL Coloradoans that every Coloradoan is able to meet the biological need of rest.

The practice of criminalizing poor and homeless people for engaging in basic life-sustaining activities like eating, sleeping, resting, and lying is unjust, cruel and entrenches people in homelessness. HB 17-1314 will allow homeless people more time and energy to access services, search for employment and apply for housing that would otherwise be spent responding to police harassment, tickets, courts and jail time. Please vote YES on HB 17-1314: the Colorado Right To Rest Act!

 

Onward,
The Colorado Homeless Bill of Rights Organizing Team