In protest of sweeps, homeless activists camp outside the Denver City and County Building

Jerry Burton poses for a portrait. Protestors who have set up camp in front of the City and County Building to denounce Denver's urban camping ban are removed by police. Nov. 29, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)homeless sweeps; city and county building; police; protest; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Jerry Burton poses for a portrait in front of a holiday-lit city and county building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Time and again, Denver police have moved people off the sidewalks at Park Avenue West and Broadway in the Ballpark neighborhood, and people have moved right back in. On Monday night, roughly a dozen homeless activists instead planted themselves before the seat of power, camping in front of the Denver City and County Building.

Terese Howard talks with police officers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“For months we’ve been saying … we’re bringing it to the mayor’s front steps,” said Terese Howard, an activist with Denver Homeless Out Loud.

Howard said activists had considered taking this step before. When they were yet again pushed out of the Triangle area Monday afternoon, multiple people decided it was time to go to city hall.

Police pack up Jerry Burton’s blankets, protocol for dealing with a camping ban violator who ignores warnings to vacate. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Two people were issued tickets under the camping ban at the Triangle, an unusual step for Denver police who usually tell homeless people to “move along.” The tickets carry penalties of up to 364 days in jail and fines up to $999. They also give activists another opportunity to fight the camping ban — in court. (One person, PJ D’Amico, was arrested for refusing to leave a taped-off area, Chris Walker reported for Westword.)

“This has gotta stop,” said Jerry Burton, who received one of the citations. “We’re humans too. God didn’t make no scrap.”

A police officer hands out information on shelters and services. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver police issued warnings to the protestors a little before midnight for violating the camping ban and handed out flyers for services.

Denver police Officer Jason Rivera, a member of the District 6 neighborhood impact team, told the protestors he was sympathetic to their situation, but the encampments in the Triangle had also attracted drug dealers — not necessarily homeless themselves — and created safety problems for nearby residents.

Officer Jason Rivera speaks with Jerry Burton. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, there had been as many as eight police cars on deck to disperse the protest. About half the camp had vacated, and nobody had been arrested. At least one new camping ban ticket had been issued.

Update: Denver police said Tuesday that three people left after receiving verbal warnings, another six left after receiving written warnings and three people were issued summonses for violating the camping ban. Nobody was arrested. Everyone had left by morning.

Denver Homeless Out Loud was live on Facebook to share their experience.

Homeless activists bask in Denver's Christmas spirit. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Homeless activists bask in Denver’s Christmas spirit. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kevin J. Beaty contributed to this report.

A man who goes by “Possum” signs a written warning from beneath a sleeping bag. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Randy Russell stares into flashing police lights. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A police officer asks a man named Michael to sign a written warning. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A police officer writes a warning ticket. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Officer Jason Rivera speaks with other policemen. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A street sweeper passes by. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Fred Jackson speaks angrily toward police officers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A man is seen in front of a lighted nativity scene on the City and County Building steps. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Officer Jason Rivera speaks with Randy Russell. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
An angel sits perched above a nativity scene on the City and County Building steps after the holiday lights have gone out for the night. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

 

 

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.