Denver officials clear homeless from public areas near shelters downtown

DENVER - Denver officials cleared a homeless camp near a shelter downtown Tuesday afternoon.

Crews were bagging up and clearing out belongings from homeless people who refused to leave the area, Denver7's Jennifer Kovaleski reported.

In the morning, police also removed a group from private property nearby.

Protesters began rallying before sunrise Tuesday against the plan to require the homeless to move off public property.

Denver was expected to begin clearing homeless camps on Tuesday.

A notice posted Monday morning stated Denver Public Works would begin enforcing a rule that allows the city to remove any items left on the sidewalk or on public property. It's part of the city's ban on "urban camping."

READ: City of Denver Sweep Notice

City officials say the site has become a public health concern despite their efforts to reach out to the homeless.

"We have no other place to go. Homeless is homeless. How would you feel if someone came to your home and said you can't live there anymore?" one woman said.

MORE | Group calls on mayor to put a stop to sweeps

"We understand it's definitely not a fun thing to take people's items. The City had to make a big decision about that," said Alexa Gagner with the Denver Rescue Mission. "It's not going to be an easy situation no matter what."

The city said it will first give people a verbal warning. If that isn't followed, it will result in a written citation and then, ultimately, there could be arrests.

The items will be taken to a warehouse, where they can be claimed, city officials said.

MORE | Denver could begin clearing homeless camps on Tuesday

 

The ACLU issued a statement about the plan:

“The ACLU of Colorado is deeply concerned by the City of Denver’s approach to the visible presence of people who are homeless downtown, including today’s sweep and seizure of personal possessions in the areas directly adjacent to the Rescue Mission, St. Francis Center, and Samaritan House.
 
“Since the last sweep of the same area on a frigid, snowy December night last year, the number of people trying to exist and survive without housing in Denver has continued to grow.  Denver residents are understandably discomforted and frustrated by the sight of so many poor and vulnerable people living in extreme poverty.  The answer to that discomfort and frustration cannot be increased criminalization and draconian sweeps that push away and attempt to hide impoverished people out of sight.  Criminalization and displacement are short-term approaches that exacerbate rather than solve root causes of poverty and homelessness.
 
“People who are homeless deserve the right to rest, the right to move freely in public spaces, and the fundamental right to be secure in their personal belongings, especially when those belongings are all that they have in the world.”

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