Ballot Initiative in Denver for Individual Enforcement of the Camping Ban and Relocation to Mass Campsites


Ballot Initiative in Denver for Individual Enforcement of the Camping Ban and Relocation to Mass Campsites (if sites are even created…)

They call it “Let’s Do Better” but instead they are doing worse!! 

The “Let’s Do Better” ballot initiative turned in their signatures for the November 2021 ballot on July 6th. This initiative would enable private individuals to force the city police through threat of civil suit to enforce the Camping Ban within 72 hours of when they call to complain and push houseless people into a max of four legal campsites (if they are ever even created). 

Signature gathers lied to signers saying the initiative would “help the homeless by creating four camping areas where people can stay.” This initiative does not create ANY camping areas and instead CAPS the amount at four. 

If you signed this petition you can still take your signature off until Jul 30, 2021. 

Here is how:

Email or and request that your signature be removed from the petition. Include your full name and address as they appeared on the petition you signed. 

More info on the initiative– 

  • The ‘Camping Ban’ is a law in Denver right now that makes it illegal to use ‘any form of protection from the elements other than one’s clothing.’ 
    • Note: Camping Bans have been found unconstitutional across the country 

The city does enforce this law across Denver right now – chasing homeless people from block to block – but with thousands of people homeless on the streets of Denver it is impossible for the city to police every homeless person out of sight. Enforcing the camping ban does not get people housing. 

This initiative would…

-Enable any resident to sue the city if police don’t enforce the camping ban within 72 hours – 

redirecting resources from housing to litigation where the rich will most certainly win. 

-Make private individuals the ones deciding who is violating the law and forcing police action.

-Violate the property rights laid out in the Lyall settlement which require 7 days notice prior to seizing property. 

-Turn to more policing as the answer to homelessness.

-Cap the number of legal campsites on public land at 4 for the whole City 

-Attempt to push at least 1,000 (if you are using the point in time one day count), or more realistically 4,000 (if you include all those uncounted in the one day count) people who are homeless just outdoors, just right now in Denver into 4 spaces.

This initiative would NOT…

-Require the legal campsites ever even be created.

-Create any housing options or on roads to housing for any of the thousands of homeless people in Denver. 

Read the full ballot initiative here 

If you signed the petition to get this on the ballot, you can still take your signature off until …!!

Historical Context

The ‘Let’s Do Better’ initiative (aka the anti-homeless, further camping ban enforcement initiative) has striking and disturbing similarities to racist policies and practices of the past. 

Japanese internment camps were created to keep people of Japanese descent in consolidated camps – these were accepted in the US from 1942 to 1945 but then after have been widely considered ‘one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.’ 

Native American reservations were created to push indigenous peoples’ into certain areas to enable white colonists to take the land they wanted. 

Sundown Towns did not allow people who were considered “minorities” to remain in the town after the sun set. Sundown Towns existed throughout the United States and there were thousands of them before the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination in housing practices. 

(See more on historical criminalization of race and poverty tied to homelessness criminalization here).

Just like these racist containment policies of the past, the current Denver ‘Let’s Do Better’ initiative tries to set up a path to contain all homeless people in shelters or in designated campsites. If the proponents of the initiative could get what they are seeking in this initiative, all people who are without housing living on the streets of Denver (currently somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 depending on whose numbers you use) would have the camping ban enforced on them to a level where they have no choice but to go into a designated controlled campsite, or else go to jail, or die. 

As a society we have rejected these containment policies of the past. We must also reject this attempt to contain all homeless people as a total ‘unwanted group’ in a few controlled designated areas and criminalize existing anywhere else. 

How can I Help Stop This?

If you signed the petition after being lied to about what it would do, request your signature be taken off! 

Tell others how to have their signature removed.

Educate the public what this initiative is really about ahead of it potentially making the ballot.

Contact: Denver Homeless Out Loud 720-940-5291

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