Month: April 2018

Response to Englewood Sweeps

Response to article titled “25 truck loads of transient trash cleared from South Platte River encampment” — This article should be re-named “25 truck loads of lies, and omissions of reality on the South Platte River”

See article here: https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/nearly-40000-spent-cleaning-up-homeless-camps-along-south-platte-river

This article is a perfect example of how cities are responding to mass homelessness by sweeping homelessness under the rug and ignoring the causes or effects of the situation. Responding to homelessness by pushing people “away” and never asking why they are where they are in the first place does not end homelessness or help those without housing. It just moves people along to somewhere else.

 

One tactic that is used to divert responsibility for homelessness in the city is to re-name the homeless folks there “transients.”  This term effectivity “otherizes” them making them “someone else’s problem.” All people who are homeless, however often they move, has the same daily needs to sleep, sit, eat, otherwise survive, in public. Furthermore, I happen to know that most of the people staying out in this area of Englewood were not travelers but were local Colorado folks who used to stay on the streets in Denver but have been pushed out to Englewood by the Denver sweeps. These folks are not “transients” they are  people experiencing homelessness.

 

Another tactic used to divert responsibility from the cities to the homeless people is not to speak at all about why they were there, and where they went after being swept from there. Englewood officials sound surprised that there is such a massive increase in people sleeping along the river in Englewood. If the reporter had interviewed the people who are homeless staying in this area they would know that a good majority of them were homeless in Denver and were swept by Denver police farther and farther out of town over the past couple of years.

 

Let’s talk about trash. The city admits there is no trash services in this area. If your residence didn’t have trash service, you would build up lots of trash, too. In our consumption society, people make trash. And that trash does not just disappear – it gets taken to a dump by public trash removal. If the city used regular trash pick up along the river, trash would not need to pile up for weeks on end to be take out all at once in 25 loads. 31 people making 4 pounds of waste a day (which is the average American waste) for a month makes 3,844 pounds of trash. No wonder there were 25 loads needed. If the problem is trash, the answer to that problems is proper trash collection and removal – not moving people along to “somewhere else.”

 

Another tactic used to divert responsibility for sweeping homeless people away to nowhere, is to refer the people to resources. The Englewood officials say their goal was to connect the homeless people to resources, but story is not finished to mention that the resources that person actually needs, like attainable housing, are not available. Most people do not want to be homeless. 332 out of 333 homeless people who were offered housing through the recent Denver SIB program took the housing. Cities cannot continue to claim they have done their part by sending an outreach worker to talk with a homeless person about non-existent housing after they are swept from their place of survival.

 

So what about all that money spent? Englewood officials try to blame homeless people living on the river for all the degradation of trees in the area. This is a long shot at best. Claiming all this need for new trees is due to about 30 people who have only been staying in this area of the river for the past few months is stretching this effect to a ridiculous level. The city quotes the total cost of this sweep at $39,122.30. This includes, trash services, police hours, public works hours, and the bulk of the cost is arbor mediation. If the city would provide trash services to the river side as opposed to using police to sweep homeless people along to some other city riverside or streets, this cost would be much different. It would have cost the city $1,118 if they had just done trash removal and not criminalized those people for surviving.

 

It is time that cities stop sweeping homeless people “away” to somewhere else and never take responsibility for their need to survive somewhere because we continue to have inadequate housing options.

-Terese Howard

Organizer with Denver Homeless Out Loud

Homeless Sweeps Class Action Lawsuit  Pre-Trial Conference!! 

Homeless Sweeps Class Action Lawsuit 
Pre-Trial Conference!! 
Wednesday May 2nd 3pm 
Federal Court House 901 19th st Denver CO (19th and Curtis) 
Come to this Pre-Trial Hearing. If you are homeless you are part of this class. If you are not homeless right now you could be. Be part of the movement for our rights and come to this hearing to hold the courts accountable to protect our constitutional rights.
This case concerns the violation of our 4th amendment rights as the City government continues to sweep homeless people “away” and illegally seizes property.

The Denver Right to Survive Initiative

Handout for Right to Survive Initiative

Right 2 Survive FAQ

The Denver Right to Survive Initiative

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt a measure that secures and enforces basic rights for all people within the jurisdiction of the City and County of Denver, including the right to rest and shelter oneself from the elements in a non-obstructive manner in outdoor public spaces; to eat, share accept or give free food in any public space where food is not prohibited; to occupy one’s own legally parked motor vehicle, or occupy a legally parked motor vehicle belonging to another, with the owner’s permission; and to have a right and expectation of privacy and safety of or in one’s person and property?

Be it enacted and ordained by people of the City and County of Denver:

Section 1. The Revised Municipal Code of Denver, Colorado, Title I, Chapter 28, is hereby amended to include
a new Article IX:

Chapter 28 – HUMAN RIGHTS [1]

ARTICLE IX. – RIGHT TO SURVIVE IN PUBLIC SPACES
Sec. 28-254. Protected Rights of People.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to secure and enforce basic rights for all people within the jurisdiction of the City and County of Denver, including the right to rest and shelter oneself from the elements in a non-obstructive manner in public spaces, to eat, share, accept or give food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy one’s own legally parked motor vehicle or occupy a legally parked motor vehicle belonging to another, with the owner’s permission, and to have a right and expectation of privacy and safety of or in one’s person and property.
(b) Definitions.
(1) “Public space” means any outdoor property that is owned or leased, in whole or in part, by the City and County of Denver and is accessible to the public, or any city property upon which there is an easement for public use.
(2) “Rest” means the state of not moving, and holding certain postures including but not limited to sitting, standing, leaning, kneeling, squatting, sleeping or lying down.
(3) “Non-Obstructive Manner” means a manner that does not render passageways impassable or hazardous.
(4). “Motor Vehicle” includes vehicles defined in Colorado Revised Statutes Sections 42-1-102 (58), Camper coach 42-1-102 (13), trailer coach 42-1-102 (106) (a), or noncommercial or recreational vehicle 42-1-102 (61).
(5) “Ceiling preemption” means any limitation on local law-making that limits the amount of protection local law may extend to municipal residents that exceeds state or federal protections.
(6) “Municipal Subordination” means any exercise of “Dillon’s Rule,” preemption, or other mechanism used to usurp the right of the people of Denver to use their City and County government for the protection of residents’ rights.

(c) Rights.
(1) The right to rest in a non-obstructive manner in public spaces.
(2) The right to shelter oneself from the elements in a non-obstructive manner in outdoor public spaces.
(3) The right to eat, share, accept, or give free food in any public space where food is not prohibited.
(4) The right to occupy one’s own legally parked motor vehicle or occupy a legally parked motor vehicle belonging to another, with the owner’s permission.
(5) The right and expectation of safety and privacy of or in one’s person and belongings while occupying public spaces.
(6) The right to have the City and County government of Denver enforce and defend this law on the basis that a constitutional right of initiative, which is an expression of local community self-government, exists. This law is an assertion of that right as it seeks to expand and secure the rights of the people of Denver. The exercise of the legal doctrines of Dillon’s Rule, ceiling preemption or municipal subordination to state government would unconstitutionally and illegitimately violate the right of the residents of the City and County of Denver to local
community self-government.

(d) Prohibitions and Obligations.
(1) It shall be unlawful for the City and County of Denver to enforce any ordinance, resolution, regulation, rule or policy that limits, prohibits or penalizes the rights secured by this ordinance.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any public law enforcement officer, private security employee or agent, corporation, business or other entities to violate the rights recognized and secured by this law.
(3) It shall be unlawful for an employee or agent of any government agency, corporation, business, or other entity to harass, terrorize, threaten, or intimidate any natural person exercising the rights secured by this ordinance.

(e) Enforcement.
(1) Any law enforcement officer or other agent of the City and County of Denver who detains, causes to move, or violates the protected rights in Section (c) of this ordinance has committed a civil rights violation(s) under color of law. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, requesting identification by any person unless supported by reasonable suspicion of a crime.
(2) The City and County of Denver, or any resident of the City and County of Denver, may enforce the rights and prohibitions of this law through an action brought in any court possessing jurisdiction over activities occurring within the City and County. In such an action, the City and County of Denver or the resident shall be entitled to recover as a prevailing party all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.

(3) All laws adopted by the legislature of Colorado shall be the law of the City and County of Denver only to the extent that they do not violate the rights or prohibitions of this law. Where state or federal law is more protective of human rights and civil rights than this local law, the state or federal law controls.

(f) Severability.
(1) The provisions of this law are severable. If any court decides that any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision of this law is illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences parts, or provisions, of the law. This law would have been enacted without the invalid sections.

(g) Repealer.
(1) All inconsistent provisions of prior laws adopted by the City and County of Denver are hereby repealed, but only to the extent necessary to remedy the inconsistency.

(h) Effective Date.
(1) All provisions of this act shall take effect immediately.

ENACTED AND ORDAINED this _________________ day of _______, 2019, by the City and County
of Denver, Colorado.