Author: denverhomelessoutloud

Denver Government Trying to Throw People in Jail for Survival Ban via Probation 

Denver Government Trying to Throw People in Jail for Survival Ban via Probation

When: August 24th 2017 at 8:30am

Where: Lindsey Flanagan Court House (520 W Colfax Ave, Denver CO 80204)

On August 24th 2017 at 8:30am Terese Howard will go to court to face a sentencing of 30 days in jail for the urban survival ban (otherwise known as “camping ban”). On April 5th 2017 Jerry Burton, Randy Russell, and Terese Howard were found guilty of surviving in public after a high profile 3 day trial with a jury that said things like “Why are we prosecuting people for being homeless?” and “I’ll bear a sense of guilt in prosecuting them,” and where the city prosecution said “you know it is illegal to survive in Denver.” For Terese, however, this was not the end of sentencing for this “crime” of lying in a sleeping bag as she was already on probation under a trespassing charge for sitting in a tiny home. In October 2015 members of Denver Homeless Out Loud and the broader homeless community took direct action to address the housing crisis and built five tiny homes in a day on this vacant Denver Housing Authority land which used to be low income housing and was just about to be sold to a private developer for market rate housing. But instead of responding with greattude that homeless people were taking care of their own housing needs the response was to arrest these people, including Terese, and destroy their homes. On November 28th 2016 when she got a ticket for the survival ban this was considered a violation of the probation condition of the trespassing charge of “no new law violations for a year.”

 

So now the city government is trying to throw her in jail for 30 days. At the same time the city says they do not put people in jail for the camping ban but rather use it to help “connect people to services.” So if they don’t throw people in jail for the survival ban than why are the city prosecutors trying to put Terese in jail for 30 days because of a ticket for the survival ban???

 

This case will be represented by the renown constitutional lawyer, David Lane, who has recently joined on as co-counsel in the class action lawsuit against the city for the homeless sweeps. If the city gets what they want Terese, a prominent organizer with DHOL fighting the cities injustices, will be in jail for 30 days after this hearing.

Contact: Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

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EVIDENCE AGAINST DENVER SO STRONG THAT A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS FILED IN HOMELESS CLASS ACTION Press Conference and March for our Rights!!

EVIDENCE AGAINST DENVER SO STRONG THAT A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS FILED IN HOMELESS CLASS ACTION

Press Conference and March for our Rights!!


 

When: Monday August 14th 11am

Where: City and County Building 1437 Bannock St Denver CO

What: Press Conference, Rally, March and Food

Why: Because the evidence is so clear: the City has violated our constitutional rights in the sweeps

How: Gather at the City and County Building at 11am. Hear from our lawyers and plaintiffs speaking to the press at 11:15am. March down to the Downtown Denver Business Partnership offices at 16th and Tremont to call out their role in pushing for the sweeps. March back to City Hall to call out the Mayor and his administration’s direction of the sweeps in violation of constitutional rights. Eat food.

To Bring: If you have the resources and can bring some food it is a pot luck so bring food to share!   

 

Denver, CO—Collected through months of discovery, the evidence against Denver exposes a systematic disregard and violations of the rights and dignity of U.S residents in one of the largest homeless class actions in U.S. history.

“They look at you with disdain… instead of a human being with feelings and emotions, you know, wants, needs.” 

Exhibit 1Roy Vincent Browne Deposition.

The purpose of the camping ban and the homeless sweeps was not to help the poor, as officials so often claimed, but to get rid of the unwanted in a growing American city.   

“I think the unauthorized camping ordinance has had a positive effect on the community. I think, without it, we would be looking like LA right now.”

Deposition of Bennie Milliner, Executive Director of the Road Home Program—main program designed to serve homeless persons— stating that the purpose of the homeless sweeps was to keep Denver from looking like Los Angeles.

Newly discovered evidence shows that the city used inmates to conduct the homeless sweeps, used flamethrowers to intimidate homeless persons, and after seizing personal property and throwing it in the garbage, held a city-funded barbecue directly in front of the homeless persons who had just been displaced.

Copies of emails and newly unearthed evidence will be provided at the 8/14 press conference.

Contact:

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

Beloved Community Village is getting Built! Yet Sweeps Continue…

Beloved Community Village is getting Built! Yet Sweeps Continue…
Saturday May 20th, 2017 was the first big day of building Beloved Community Village, the first ever Tiny Home Village in Denver. 100 volunteers including future village residents, neighborhood residents, members of Mennonite Desiaster Services, Whiting-Turner, Ridian Ink, and members of all the organizations making up the newly formed Colorado Village Collaborative, came to help build the village! Monday we continued to build with over 40 volunteers. We will continue to build over the next week (or so) and are projecting to completely finish construction by the end of June.
If you would like to volunteer to help build contact terese@denverhomelessoutloud.org. If you want to drop by with some snacks or coffee we always love that too! You can also donate at https://www.gofundme.com/denvers-first-tiny-home-village 
At the same time as the village was being built Monday morning 5/22, Denver police and city officials were sweeping about 20 people who had been staying on the side walk on 21st and Champa “away” and taking their belongings. Some folks staying out here moved to this area after being swept from the Lawrence and Park Ave area this winter and as more sweeps continued in areas along the river and elsewhere. Those swept from this area scattered to other areas outside breaking the same survival ban law everywhere they go to rest.
This village is the response of homeless people to this criminalization of survival and to the utter lack of housing poor people can actually attain. As we have seen through this building, with community we can build these homes with little money and little time. The struggle is for land and legalization of these attainable communities and homes — whether it be a tiny home, a tent, a tarp, or just a piece of cardboard.
Stay tuned for coming developments and come by and say hi as this village is build and as it becomes home for many! And talk with your council person and tell them you don’t want people to be swept and treated like trash…
Video of First Wall being Lifted!

Video by Unicorn Riot on Beloved Community Village Build https://vimeo.com/218386349

Denverite Coverage
Contact:
Denver Homeless Out Loud

Beloved Community Tiny Home Village Building Starts Saturday May 20, 2017!!

Beloved Community Tiny Home Village Building Starts Saturday May 20, 2017!!

Beloved Community Village, Denver’s First Tiny Home Village, construction will begin on Saturday May 20, 2017! This tiny home village will be at 3733 Walnut St and will have 11 tiny homes, a community space, a shower building, and bathrooms. The village will be home to 14 people who are currently homeless. The village will be run by the village residents themselves with partnership with an advisory council.

 

This tiny home village has been made legally possible for the first time ever in Denver after working with City planning and zoning departments to allow for this type of village. This support is a big step forward to enable common sense housing communities. However, current zoning requires the village to move locations every 6 months, continuing to force communities to move and will prevent planting roots. Ultimately, we seek to create zoning for permanent tiny home villages to support multiple ways of finding home and community.

 

This village is the creation of a new organization called Colorado Village Collaborative, a partnership between Denver Homeless Out Loud, The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Bayaud Enterprises, Beloved Community Mennonite Church, and village residents. Architectural plans and designs were provided by Radian Inc., Whiting-Turner will oversee construction, and Mennonite Disaster Services will oversee volunteers. The Village is made possible by more than 300 individuals, organizations, and businesses who provided funding, and who have signed up to help build.

 

Beloved Community Village is a remarkable feat of collaborative and persistent effort across many sectors of society. Given the absence of attainable housing for low or no income people in Denver and across the Nation, and given the use of laws to criminalize people for trying to survive in public spaces and push them “away” into farther away more hidden places in effort to hide homelessness, tiny home villages are one significant, unique means of creating fast, inexpensive, community based, environmentally friendly homes.

 

All are invited to visit the village being built over the next couple weeks. We currently have enough volunteers to build the village, but welcome support of coffee, snacks, or food for the workers. To donate please go to https://www.gofundme.com/denvers-first-tiny-home-village.

Thanks to all who made this possible! Homes for all!

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

Homeless People Go on Trial for Surviving April 4th, 2017

Homeless People Go on Trial for Surviving April 4th, 2017

When: April 4th (and likely 5th and 6th), 8am-5pm(ish) 2017

Where: Lindsay Flanigan Courthouse (520 w Colfax Ave Denver CO 80204)

On April 4th, 2017 at 8am the Lindsay Flanigan Courthouse Jerry Burton, Terese Howard and Randy Russell will be the first people in Denver to ever take an unauthorized camping ban ticket (more accurately named “survival ban”) to trial. These three co-defendants, victims to this cruel, arbitrary, and unconstitutional law, are just three of the hundreds of homeless people who are victim to this law every day as police drive around telling homeless people covered with blankets to “move along.” Between the three co-defendants, they have five “survival ban” tickets, all from November 28th. These tickets were given to them for using blankets or tents to survive as they all had done hundreds of times before and continued to do afterward as anyone must to survive outside without a home. The law makes it illegal for a person to “use any form of protection from the elements other than one’s clothing” anywhere in the city of Denver.

 

The Denver government is spending massive resources to prosecute Burton, Howard, and Russell, including calling 33 Police Officers as witnesses in the trial. According to the law, the co-defendants are facing up to $999 and a year in jail for the crime of using blankets to try to stay warm on a cold winter night. Buron and Russell both had their blankets, sleeping bags and tents taken “as evidence” of the crime of camping – leaving them with no gear to survive the freezing winter night and driving Burton to the hospital. Shortly after this, Mayor Hancock publicly directed the Police Department to cease confiscating survival gear for the safety of homeless people sleeping on winter nights. Yet the government is still prosecuting these individuals.

 

Attorney for the case, Jason Flores-Williams, describes this prosecution saying, “When you think that not one senior executive from Wall Street was prosecuted for the financial crisis, but here we are prosecuting three poor people for just trying to survive – tells you all you need to know about justice in America.”

 

The government has tried to make these co-defendants’ cases out to be rare and a response to a protest. These are lies. While the government has avoided giving “survival ban” tickets (likely to avoid trials like this which put the unconstitutionality of the law at question and take massive taxpayer resources), 24 people have been ticketed for the ban and thousands have been forced to move along and had belongings taken. Burton and Russell were first ticketed on November 28th 2016 at 27th and Arapahoe where they had been surviving for months. After hundreds of homeless people, including Burton and Russell, had been forced to move from the areas they had found to gather for safety and protection, they, along with about 20 other homeless people who had been displaced that day, moved to city hall where they hoped to be allowed to sleep. This was not a protest – this was survival.

 

Burton, Howard, and Russell have pleaded not guilty and will be bringing their cases together as a joint trial, represented by attorney Jason Flores-Williams. As the government, under the direction of Mayor Hancock, uses our tax dollars to prosecute these cases of public survival while homeless, we will continue to stand up in the courts, city council, state capitol, and on the streets to bring this injustice to an end.

 

Come witness this monumental trial starting April 4th at 8am – 5pm and likely continuing on April 5th and 6th.

Contact: Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

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