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Day 2 of violent protests and tense homeless sweeps in downtown Denver

Police pepper spray and arrest several protesters
Posted at 5:12 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 19:48:55-04

DENVER -- It was Day Two of tense homeless sweeps in downtown Denver.

Wednesday saw a larger crowd gather to confront police and more homeless advocates arrested.

“These illegal encampments are not good for anyone,” said Gerald Horner, who lives near the encampment at 22nd Avenue and Stout. “Particularly, the unhoused. Denver doesn’t have housing right now for these folks.”

The encampment here is known as 'Jerryville,’ named after a homeless vet who tried to keep it clean and tidy.

But, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment told Denver7 it finally deemed the area a public health hazard to both those living there and those living nearby.

The clash between police and homeless advocates happened in broad daylight. Denver7 video shows a guy lunge at police holding his skateboard as a shield. Then, police pepper spray the man - arresting him and others.

"I'm glad this is happening,” said Carolyn Burnett, who also lives nearby. She says the sweep was long overdue.

"They're fighting all the time, the drug activity that's going on,” Burnett said. “It’s 24/7. You can't even enjoy your TV at night. You can’t open your window even to sleep."

And Burnett says it goes beyond that.

"It’s a health hazard,” Burnett said. “There's no fresh air. Every day you walk out, all you get is their bacteria."

But homeless advocates say this highlights the crisis in our city.

"What's happening is people are being terrorized, traumatized and pushed to nowhere by a city that tries to make it look like they have something to offer people," said Terese Howard, director of Denver Homeless Out Loud. “Affordable housing is not affordable."

Jerry Burton, for whom the encampment is named after, doesn't blame the police officers who drove them out Wednesday.

"Who is is their boss?” Burton said. “The boss is the mayor. The mayor tells the chief, the chief tells his officers to go out and do what the mayor wants done. This is Mayor Hancock's fault. Period."

The City of Denver says it's doing what it can, but it could always use more resources.

Burnett and others say it was time.

"These people have to start being responsible for their own lives," Burnett said.