Denver sweeps out homeless people from Ballpark for a second time

People protest the clearing of belongings from the sidewalk near Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The city of Denver cleared the belongings of dozens of people from the sidewalks around Park Avenue West and Broadway on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Our photographer, Kevin Beaty, was on the scene.

"Move Along To Where?" a sign asks ahead of expected sweeps of homeless people on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
“Move Along To Where?” a sign asks ahead of expected sweeps of homeless people on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

King Reality and Lindsay Leporis protest expected sweeps of homeless people in the Ballpark neighborhood. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
King Reality and Lindsay Leporis protest expected sweeps of homeless people in the Ballpark neighborhood. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The city contends that these sweeps are necessary to keep the sidewalks accessible and sanitary. Social-service workers canvass the area ahead of time and during the sweeps in an effort to help people find services that may help them, according to the city. The city has said belongings will be stored for 30 days at 2100 31st St., available for pickup from 12 to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

A city crew prepares to clear an encampment of homeless people. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A city crew prepares to clear an encampment of homeless people. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Police officers walk by bicycles near the intersection of Park Avenue West and Broadway ahead of expected sweeps of homeless people. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Police officers walk by bicycles near the intersection of Park Avenue West and Broadway ahead of expected sweeps of homeless people. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Attorney Jason Flores-Williams has organized a class-action lawsuit to stop the sweeps, arguing that they violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant, the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law and due process.

Attorney Jason Flores-Wiliams stands on the side of Lawrence during so-called "homeless sweeps" on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)homeless; sweeps; denver rescue mission; police; justice; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Attorney Jason Flores-Williams (right) stands on the side of Lawrence. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A city crew collects belongings of homeless people who had camped on the sidewalk of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Police tape marked off the sidewalk as city crews collected belongings. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

People living on the sidewalk report a wide variety of reasons to be there as opposed to shelters. For some, it’s simply easier than shuttling between shelters and other services. Others dislike the rules and constrained environment of shelters, which some say are too densely packed with people.

JR Gerhard of Scranton. "Nothing here is handicapped accessible. The east shelter is, but I have to climb a flight of stairs on the bus and take all my stuff with me. It's just easier to stay out here." (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
JR Gerhard of Scranton. “Nothing here is handicapped accessible. The east shelter is, but I have to climb a flight of stairs on the bus and take all my stuff with me. It’s just easier to stay out here.” (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
JR Gerhard sweeps up garbage. "Homeless sweeps" on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)homeless; sweeps; denver rescue mission; police; justice; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
JR Gerhard sweeps up garbage. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A truck collects belongings of homeless people who had camped on the sidewalk of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A truck collects belongings of homeless people who had camped on the sidewalk of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The city already swept this area earlier this year. When it happens, groups of people may move to other neighborhoods around downtown, to Cherry Creek or to the South Platte River.

People protest the clearing of belongings from the sidewalk near Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
People protest the clearing of belongings from the sidewalk near Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
The ground near Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
The ground near Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A person on the ground ahead of the city of Denver's planned sweep of homeless people from the intersection of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A person on the ground ahead of the city of Denver’s planned sweep of homeless people from the intersection of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
The sidewalk near the intersection of Park Avenue West and Broadway on the morning of Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
The sidewalk near the intersection of Park Avenue West and Broadway on the morning of Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A city crew collects belongings of homeless people who had camped on the sidewalk of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A city crew collects belongings of homeless people who had camped on the sidewalk of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
City workers load bins with personal items for 30-day storage. "Homeless sweeps" on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)homeless; sweeps; denver rescue mission; police; justice; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
City workers load bins with personal items for 30-day storage. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
City workers sort garbage from personal items, loading the former into a garbage truck and the latter into garbage bins for 30-day storage. "Homeless sweeps" on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)homeless; sweeps; denver rescue mission; police; justice; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
City workers sort garbage from personal items, loading the former into a garbage truck and the latter into garbage bins for 30-day storage. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Randy Russell sits beyond a police line. "Homeless sweeps" on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)homeless; sweeps; denver rescue mission; police; justice; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Randy Russell sits beyond a police line. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A notice of property removal distributed by the city of Denver to people camped out near Park Avenue West and Broadway on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A notice of property removal distributed by the city of Denver to people camped out near Park Avenue West and Broadway on Nov. 15, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Information about homelessness services distributed ahead of a planned city sweep of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Information about homelessness services distributed ahead of a planned city sweep of Park Avenue West and Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

 

 

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.