Fridays: Boycott The Palm for Support of the “Urban Camping” Ban

April 26, 2013 in Press, Video

When: Fridays at 5 p.m.
Where:
 The Palm, 1672 Lawrence St, Denver, CO 80202 (map)

An Open Letter to The Palm
First Anniversary of the “Urban Camping” Ban (pdf)

This action seeks to highlight the role of The Palm and the Colorado Restaurant Association in pushing an ordinance through the city council that criminalized the survival act of sleeping by our homeless friends. Wendy Klein, the sales manager at The Palm, testified for the Downtown Denver Partnership in support of the “Urban Camping” Ban. Detailed information on the impact of the “Urban Camping” Ban on the homeless can be found at Denver Homeless Out Loud.

Wendy Klein, sales manager at The Palm, spoke in strong favor of the ordinance criminalizing homelessness at the April 30, 2012 city council public hearing about the “Urban Camping” Ban. She also brought the unanimous vote of the Colorado Restaurant Association in support of the ban to the City Council.

According to Kline who could only refer to the homeless as they or it, “they are lining up outside our doors even as we speak this evening placing their property on our property to save their nights real estate so that they will have a safe, warm place to sleep impeding our guests and even those who are walking back and forth from the restaurant…Now with the warmer weather descending, we are seeing it come back in full force. Our people are asking us what we can do.”

The wealthiest “movers and shakers” in Denver meet to eat, socialize and make deals at Palm Restaurant.

Occupy Denver calls on The Palm, the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Downtown Denver Partnership and the City Council to take the lead of other cities and pursue compassionate, justice-based alternatives instead of criminalizing homelessness. We call on business groups to increase funding for initiatives that will eradicate homelessness.

Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, a report from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, provides many alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Instead of criminalizing homelessness, local governments, business groups, and law enforcement officials should work with homeless people, providers, and advocates for solutions to prevent and end homelessness.
  • Cities should dedicate more resources to creating more affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, emergency shelters, and homeless services in general. To address street homelessness, cities should adopt or dedicate more resources to outreach programs, emergency shelter, and permanent supportive housing.
  • Business groups can play a positive role in helping to address the issue of homelessness. Instead of advocating for criminalization measures, business groups can put resources into solutions to homelessness.
  • When cities work with homeless persons and advocate for solutions to homelessness, instead of punishing those who are homeless or poor, everyone benefits.

Video: Tactics that Work: From Zapatismo to Occupy

July 22, 2012 in Teach-In, Video

Thomas Nail, DU Philosophy Department, gave this teach-in on Thursday, July 19th.

Many of the strategies deployed by the Occupy movement have their origins in the alter-globalization movement and one of its main organizing groups, Peoples’ Global Action, which arose from the first and largest global neo-liberal gatherings: the Intercontinental Encuentros organized by the Zapatistas in 1994 and 1996.

This teach-in explores the history of successful function of four tactics popularized by the Occupy Movement but that have their roots in Zapatism and before: 1) horizontal and leaderless networking, 2) consensus decision-making, 3) inclusive multi-fronted struggle, and 4) the collective use of masks.

Thomas Nail, DU Philosopy Department, is the author of Returning to Revolution: Deleuze, Guattari and Zapatismo. As an activist, Thomas has worked with Cascadia Forest Defense – a direct action campaign based in Eugene, Oregon, and with No One is Illegal, Toronto – a radical migrant justice organization in Canada.

Teach-In Video – American Indians: The Other One Percent

May 17, 2012 in Teach-In, Video

On May 15, 2012, Occupy Denver hosted a teach-in by Tink Tinker, a professor of Native American Studies at the Illif School of Theology at the University of Denver. He explained the similarities of the Occupy Movement and the struggle of the American Indian Movement AIM.


Produced by Gary Crabtree for OccupyNowTV
Description of event

In the words of renowned American Indian scholar Tink Tinker, who is leading this teach-in: “I hope to discuss the contemporary economic repercussions of american colonial / corporate power on Indian communities across the continent. Thus, I will highlight the intense poverty of Indian communities in spite of resource rich lands that should make us the wealthiest Americans. Instead, we have an unemployment rate that is stuck at about 50%. But it’s recession proof….”

Tink Tinker is a senior faculty member at the Iliff School of Theology, where he has been teaching classes since 1985. His courses include American Indian cultures, history, and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third-World theologies; and justice and peace studies. Tink is a frequent speaker on these topics both in the U.S. and internationally. His publications include American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (2008); Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (2004); and Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Genocide (1993). He co-authored A Native American Theology (2001); and he is co-editor of Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (2003), and Fortress Press’ Peoples’ Bible (2008).

Join Us to Protest Downtown Denver Partnership Support for “Urban Camping” Ban

May 10, 2012 in Press, Video

Flashmob Protests During May Day / City Council Public Hearings, April 30th

The Downtown Denver People’s Partnership including organizations like the Denver Catholic Worker and Occupy Denver will conduct a series of protests leading up to the Monday night city council vote on an ordinance that will criminalize the survival act of sleeping by our homeless friends. The protests seek to highlight the business influence pushing this ordinance through city council.

Saturday, May 12th Actions:

6:00 to 8:00 pm: Protest at the Palm Restaurant, 1672 Lawrence Street, Denver, CO 80202 (map) and other members of the Downtown Denver Partnership supporting this ordinance. Meet at 5:30 pm in Lincoln Park if you’d like to march to the Palm Restaurant via City Hall.

8:00 pm overnight: Mass overnight sleep-in protest in front of the Downtown Denver Partnership, 511 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202 (Between Glenarm Place and Welton Street) (map). Bring your sleeping bags and/or blankets for an all night sleep-in.

Monday, May 14th Actions:

Noon to 5:30 pm: Bring your sleeping bags and/or blankets for a day-long rally on the City Council steps (City and County Building, 1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado 80202). From noon until 5:30 there will be a series of actions and speeches highlighting the injustice of this ordinance. The City and County Building will be open to the public, let your voice be heard.

4:30 pm: Rally to OPPOSE the “Urban Camping” Ban at the City and County Building (1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado 80202)

5:30pm: We will enter the building to the City Council Chambers with our blankets and sleeping bags to crowd the council meeting in opposition to this ordinance.

Corporate and business interests in downtown Denver coalesce in the Downtown Denver Partnership, an organization that believes the homeless “will drive future conventions, tourists, residents and businesses from downtown.” Partnership members control billions of dollars of assets. The opportunities to obtain funds for campaigns and city services from the corporations represented by the partnership are clearly tempting city council members away from their duty to listen to the people who elected them and to find compassionate ways to eradicate homelessness.

The Downtown Denver People’s Partnership has information from a reliable source that the partnership has been discussing this ordinance for two years. After the ordinance emerged from “embargo” at Councilman Brooks’ office, it has consistently appeared like a “done deal.” City council insiders Shepherd and Lopez have consistently pointed this out. Before the ordinance passed first reading, Councilwoman Shepherd said, “I know the way this vote is going to go. I know it. And I think you all know how this vote is going to go too. And unfortunately, the sad thing about it, is that it has been like that from day one.”

While this ordinance was embargoed, Mayor Hancock and Councilman Brooks bypassed consulting the Denver Homeless Commission, the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation and the homeless themselves. Little effort was made to pair adequate resources with the ordinance.

While the Bill Request specifically states that ordinances like this “are justified on the basis protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the public,” the ordinance was assigned to the Land Use committee instead of the Health and Safety committee. As Councilman Lopez pointed out, this was done so that it would advance. All amendments to make the ordinance safer have been rejected.

Mayor Hancock is already training the police on implementing this ordinance before it has even passed.

Protests

The Downtown People’s Partnership plans to protest Palm Restaurant, the Colorado Restaurant Association and other members of the Downtown Denver Partnership that are supporting this ordinance. Colorado Restaurant Association members voted unanimously to support criminalizing homelessness. We will then conduct an all night sleep-in protest in front of the partnership itself.

Tamara Door, CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, spoke strongly in favor of the ordinance criminalizing homelessness at the city council public hearing. Door believes that, “Unauthorized camping poses a threat to the health and safety of the city’s residents, employees, visitors and to the unauthorized campers themselves.” As the Downtown Denver People‘s Partnership conducted their first sleep-in protest last week in front of The Pavillions on 16th Street Mall, we did not notice any overwhelming health and safety issues for “unauthorized campers”. On the contrary, we appreciated the well lit, safe environment provided by the 16th Street Mall.

Sleep-In Protest at The Pavillions on 16th Street Mall, Tuesday, May 1st.
All photographs by Kendra Kellogg

Like Snooze Co-Owner Brianna Borin, Door also believes the criminalization of the survival act of sleeping will assist individuals to get the help they need. According to Door, “an immediate legislative response to the overwhelming problem of unauthorized camping is necessary…In this point in time, we absolutely need to foster a safe and humane environment in downtown and it requires consequences for those who refuse assistance and continue to engage in behaviors that threaten public safety and health.”

Wendy Klein spoke on behalf of Palm Restaurant and the Colorado Restaurant Association. According to Kline who could only refer to the homeless as they or it, “they are lining up outside our doors even as we speak this evening placing their property on our property to save their nights real estate so that they will have a safe, warm place to sleep impeding our guests and even those who are walking back and forth from the restaurant…Now with the warmer weather descending, we are seeing it come back in full force. Our people are asking us what we can do.” The wealthiest “movers and shakers” in Denver meet to eat, socialize and make deals at Palm Restaurant.

The Downtown Denver People’s Partnership calls on Palm Restaurant, the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Downtown Denver Partnership and the City Council to listen to the people and take the lead of other cities and pursue compassionate, justice-based alternatives instead of criminalizing homelessness. We call on business groups to increase funding for initiatives that will eradicate homelessness.

Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, a report from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, provides many alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Instead of criminalizing homelessness, local governments, business groups, and law enforcement officials should work with homeless people, providers, and advocates for solutions to prevent and end homelessness.
  • Cities should dedicate more resources to creating more affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, emergency shelters, and homeless services in general. To address street homelessness, cities should adopt or dedicate more resources to outreach programs, emergency shelter, and permanent supportive housing.
  • Business groups can play a positive role in helping to address the issue of homelessness. Instead of advocating for criminalization measures, business groups can put resources into solutions to homelessness.
  • When cities work with homeless persons and advocate for solutions to homelessness, instead of punishing those who are homeless or poor, everyone benefits.

Teach-In Video: Integral Theory and Social Activism

May 10, 2012 in Teach-In, Video

On May 2, 2012, Christopher Mandel delivered a talk that served as an introduction to integral theory and focused on its implications for the Occupy Movement and social activism in general.


Integral Movement and Occupy filmed by Tanner Spendley.
Integral Theory is a broad, all encompassing philosophy developed by Colorado based thinker, Ken Wilber. It is a one of kind, system for putting divergent political, historical, religious, and scientific ideas within a framework which respects both their similarities and differences. It also provides an optimistic vision of the future based on concrete, cross-discipline evidence. Figures who have mentioned integral theory as a major influence on lives and work include Al Gore, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Larry Wachowski (The Matrix, V for Vendetta), and self-help author Deepac Chopra.

Chris is an organizer for Occupy Denver and in a formal life, was part of the “Integral Scene” of Denver/Boulder. He has studied integral theory for 15 years, and has worked with many of the central figures in the integral world.

Week Five: Take Action Against Ordinance to Criminalize Homelessness

May 5, 2012 in Press, Video

Last week the proposed Denver city ordinance to criminalize our homeless sisters and brothers had the 1st Reading, public hearings and first vote (final vote will follow on May 14th) before the full city council. It was advanced by a vote of 9 to 4 (Ayes: Brooks, Brown, Faatz, Herdon, Lehmann, Montero, Nevitt, Robb, Susman. No: Kniech, Lopez, Ortega, Shephard). There was a mass sleep-in at The Pavillions on the 16th Street Mall in response to this vote (see video, media and pictures below).

We need to take three critical actions this week. First, we will be having a “snooze-in” at Snooze on Sunday May 6th to protest their support of the ordinance (details below). Next Saturday we will have a picket starting at the Palm Restaurant and a mass sleep-in protest in front of the Downtown Denver Partnership. Second, we need as many people as possible to attend the St. Johns Cathedral forum and the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation meeting. Third, we need to continue to visit, call and email city council members about the ordinance.

Downtown Denver People’s Partnership Protests

“Snooze-in” at Snooze to Protest “Urban Camping Ban.”

The Downtown Denver People’s Partnership including organizations like the Denver Catholic Worker, the Thunderdome and Occupy Denver will conduct a “snooze-in” outside of Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. The Thunderdome will serve pancakes at a people’s pancake picnic.

When: Sunday, May 6th from 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, 2262 Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado (map)

This action seeks to highlight the role of Snooze, a member of the Downtown Denver Business Partnership, in pushing an ordinance through the city council that will criminalize the survival act of sleeping by our homeless friends.

Read Full Press Release

Protest at the Palm Restaurant and Other Members of the Downtown Denver Partnership Supporting the Ordinance

When: Saturday, May 12th starting at 6 p.m. Meet at Lincoln Park at 5:30 pm if you want to march past City Hall to the Palm Restaurant.
Where: Palm Restaurant, 1672 Lawrence Street, Denver, CO 80202 (map)

Read Full Press Release

Mass Sleep-in Protest at the Downtown Denver Partnership

The Downtown Denver People’s Partnership including organizations like the Denver Catholic Worker and Occupy Denver will conduct a mass sleep-in outside of the Downtown Denver Partnership to protest their involvement in pushing this ordinance through city council.

When: Saturday, May 12th starting at 8 p.m.
Where: Downtown Denver Partnership, 511 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202 (Between Glenarm Place and Welton Street) (map)

Read Full Press Release

Sleep-in Protests at City and County Building

Bring your sleeping bags and/or blankets for a day-long rally on the City Council steps (City and County Building, 1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado 80202). From noon until 5:30 there will be a series of actions and speeches highlighting the injustice of this ordinance. The city and county building will be open to the public, let your voice be heard.

When: Monday, May 14th from Noon to 5:30 pm
Where: City and County Building, 1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado 80202

Rally to OPPOSE the “Urban Camping” Ban

When: Monday, May 14th at 4:30 pm
Where: City and County Building, 1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado 80202

Attend Meetings This Week

Tuesday, May 8, 7:00 pm – St. John’s Cathedral Forum
1350 Washington St, Denver, CO 80203
Dagwood Hall (Enter Cathedral complex from parking lot, make a right and walk to the end of the hallway. It is the large hall on the right)

From Cathedral Newsletter: “Please join Councilman Albus Brooks of Council District 8, Council At-Large Robin Kniech, and Jeanne Robb of Council District 10 at Saint John’s Cathedral for a forum on the proposed ordinance to prohibit unauthorized camping on public or private property; Bill Request BR12-241. Join us in discussion on how the community and the city can work together toward the shared goals of addressing the needs of the homeless community and creating a welcoming downtown.”

Saturday, May 12, 9:00 am – Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation Meeting
Broadway COP Shop
407 S. Broadway #500, Denver, CO 80209

From the INC website: “The meeting begins at 9:00 am. The Forum will begin at 10:15 a.m. and end at 11:30.  There will an opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.  Representatives from the City Council, Downtown Denver Partnership, Lower Downtown Residents, Ball Park Residents, Occupy Denver, the homeless community and Denver Police are expected to participate.”

Visit, Call and Email City Council Members and the Mayor’s Office

Key resources to share with city council members include: The Homes Not Handcuffs page at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless; Occupy Denver’s Open Letter to Mayor Hancock; Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, a report from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty; and, Searching out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness, a new report from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Report: Mass Sleep-In on 16th Street Mall

The Denver Downtown People‘s Partnership including organizations like the Denver Catholic Worker, the Thunderdome and Occupy Denver conducted an all night sleep-in protest in front of The Pavillions on 16th Street Mall on Tuesday night May 2nd.

Media Coverage:

photo (cc-by-nc-sa) by Kendra Kellogg

photo (cc-by-nc-sa) by Kendra Kellogg

All photographs by Kendra Kellogg

Video: Teach-In Panel – Defend Our Homes, Protect Our Communities

May 5, 2012 in Teach-In, Video

On May 3, 2012, the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition presented a teach-in panel called “Defend Our Homes… Protect Our Communities: A call to action from the front lines of the war on corporate corruption.”


Produced by Gary Crabtree for Occupy Now TV

In 2007 rampant fraud in the mortgage industry triggered a financial crisis throughout the world economy. Within two years 7.5 million American workers lost their jobs and an attempt to cover their original crimes, the Banksters have fraudulently forced 15.5 million homes into foreclosure. Thousands across the country have joined together in the fight to save our communities. If you want to havea direct impact now, please join us for a panel discussion on out how to get into the fight.

Panel of Activists:

Corrine Fowler – The Economic Justice Director at the Colorado Progressive Coalition.
Corrine has gained an extensive knowledge from experience of how to fight foreclosures through Legislative and DirectAction.

Chad Kautzer – A philosophy professor who specializes in Social and Political Philosophy.
Chad is active in Occupy Denver and has been giving teach-ins on the financial causes and Wall Street corruption that led to the foreclosure crisis.

Steven Bailey – The victim of a fraudulent foreclosure in which his family lost their home and livelihood.
Steve offers the perspective of how these crimes are impacting the lives of the victims and how the Occupy movement will empower us to fight back.

Video: Teach-In – The Occupy Movement as Ideology Critique

April 27, 2012 in Teach-In, Video


Produced by Gary Crabtree and Occupy Now TV

In a previous teach-in, we looked at class and class conflict. Now we turn to ideology, how it relates to our economic system, and how it functions in our daily lives. The politics of foreclosures and the proposed ordinance banning “urban camping” in Denver, which would criminalize homelessness, will serve as case studies. In general, we’ll find that the Occupy movement represents, in practice, a fundamental critique of dominant political and economic ideologies.

This teach-in, part IV of the Occupy Economics series, was led by Chad Kautzer on April 26, 2012. Chad is a member of Occupy Denver’s Education Committee and Foreclosure Resistance Coalition, as well as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Directory of the Social Justice Minor at the University of Colorado Denver.

View the previous teach-ins in the Occupy Economics series:
Part I: Occupy Economics 101
Part II: Capitalism, Foreclosures and the Politics of Responsibility
Part III: Class Conflict and the Occupy Movement

For more information about Occupy Denver teach-ins, email educate@occupydenver.org.

Editorial: A needed delay on criminalization

April 23, 2012 in Press, Video

By Working Group on Ordinance Criminalizing Homelessness, Occupy Denver

The editors at the Denver Post are wondering what a month-long delay on an ordinance criminalizing homelessness will accomplish. In a strongly worded letter calling the ban a “hardening of heart towards the poor,” the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) called on city council members to “vote NO on this ordinance so a true discussion on the needs of the homeless can begin.”

We need a true discussion on the needs of the homeless.

There are no short cuts to successfully addressing homelessness in the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. It is a short cut for the editors at the Denver Post to say “the lines have been drawn and it’s pretty clear this issue will remain divisive” so let’s just vote without further discussion. It was a short cut for Mayor Hancock and Councilman Albus Brooks to try to speed an ordinance through city council without proper discussion with the Denver Homeless Commission and the homeless community themselves.

As Dr. Chad Kautzer, philosophy professor at the University of Colorado Denver, recently shared with Councilman Albus Brooks on Occupy Denver’s Facebook Page:

The values informing your ordinance are deeply troubling. You’re responding with punitive measures to vulnerable and marginalized populations that are growing during an economic crisis, rather than with proactive measures that improve services and treat all of our neighbors with respect. Additionally, your sense of urgency clearly relates to the interests of Denver businesses, rather than the desperate condition of the homeless. In short, you have pitted the interests of the most fortunate against the needs of the most vulnerable. This is unacceptable and no amount of facts can right such a wrong.

The Post editorial claims that this “has been portrayed as the product of business interests,” and then attempts to refute this premise, without referencing any outside groups or citizens that are supportive of the ordinance. In reality, overwhelming majorities of residents have packed city council meetings to oppose the ordinance. The Post fails to disclose that it is a member of the Downtown Denver Partnership, the alliance of business interests that has been one of the few groups pushing the urgency of this ordinance. We expect better from our newspaper than to mislead readers by failing to disclose this conflict of interest.

It is unfortunate that The Denver Post would rather stand with their fellow business members of the Downtown Denver Partnership in attempting to criminalize homelessness, than to work towards true solutions for some of our city’s most marginalized persons.

This ordinance has a silver lining: experts and policy makers are now focused on homelessness. Now that people are paying attention, we need to roll up our sleeves and work to eradicate homelessness in a loving and compassionate way and better the futures of those in dire need.

Sending our fellow citizens to jail for struggling in this economy is not the answer. To quote the Bruce Springsteen song, “We take care of our own.”

Week Three: Take Action Against Ordinance to Criminalize Homelessness

April 20, 2012 in Press, Video

The proposed Denver city ordinance to criminalize our homeless sisters and brothers has been discussed by the Land Use Transportation and Infrastructure and Health, Safety, Education & Services Committees (watch video summary below). The ordinance was also discussed by the Denver Homeless Commission (see media coverage below). There are two meetings this week about the ordinance, the Mayor-Council Meeting and the Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

We need to take two critical actions this week. First, we need as many people as possible to attend the city meetings about the ordinance. Second, we need to continue to visit, call and email city council members about the ordinance.

Attend City Meetings This Week

Tuesday, April 24, 9:30 am – Mayor-Council Meeting, City Council will meet with the Mayor
Room 389, City and County Building
1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado, 80202

Tuesday, April 24, 10:30 am – Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, action item and vote (Agenda)
Room 391, City and County Building
1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado, 80202

Visit, Call and Email City Council Members and the Mayor’s Office

Key resources to share with city council members include: The Homes Not Handcuffs page at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless; Occupy Denver’s Open Letter to Mayor Hancock; Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, a report from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty; and, Searching out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness, a new report from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The Facts: Denver’s Proposed “Urban Camping Ban” Ordinance

If you missed the first two city hearings, here is a short video from experts and policy makers that will arm you with the facts! Please share this with your family and friends in Denver.

Denver Homeless Commission: “Why were we not consulted?”

Members of the Denver Homeless Commission are appointed by Mayor Hancock to participate in a community-wide effort to develop a ten year plan to end homelessness in the City and County of Denver and to help oversee the implementation of such a plan.

The Denver Post reports:

Denver’s Commission on Homelessness on Thursday rebuffed the mayor and asked the City Council to delay any action on a proposed homeless camping ban for at least a month so its impacts could be discussed.

The commission’s request could delay the proposed law’s introduction to the City Council next week and a final vote scheduled for May 7.

“If we are just going to focus on the governance piece, and it moves forward without people having this discussion, then people are going to question, ‘Why am I even on this board?’ ” said Debbie Ortega, a councilwoman and commission member. “It is to ensure we have a balanced discussion … between the business interests and addressing the human side of the issue.”

“We are not looking through rose-colored glasses,” Hancock said. “We know there is a shortage of resources. I believe what this ordinance will do is help us focus even more sharply on helping develop those resources.”

But homeless advocates say the resources should come before the law.

Read full article at the Denver Post.

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP): “Consider a more constructive approach”

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) sent a letter to Mayor Hancock saying that, “The proposed ordinance criminalizes homelessness by targeting homeless people and punishing them for sleeping in public.”

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) is the legal arm of the national movement to end homelessness. We write to express our opposition to the proposed anti-camping ordinance currently under consideration by the Committee on Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure, which would effectively ban outdoor sleeping throughout Denver. Measures that criminalize homelessness violate the civil and human rights of homeless citizens, perpetuate homelessness, and impose financial burdens on local governments. We urge you to oppose this proposed ordinance.

The proposed ordinance criminalizes homelessness by targeting homeless people and punishing them for sleeping in public – despite data indicating that Denver has more homeless persons than available shelter beds. Current estimates show that, on any given night, there are approximately 200 more homeless people in need of shelter than there are shelter beds. Without available shelter space, homeless persons will have no choice but to sleep outdoors in violation of the law.

NLCHP letter (pdf)

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – CO: “Vote NO so a true discussion can begin”

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – CO represents the voice of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in response to issues of hunger and poverty within Colorado.  While specifically dealing with statewide policy and rulemaking, the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – CO Policy Board felt it was important to weigh in on the issue of the proposed city-wide ordinance to prohibit unauthorized camping in Denver as to the impact it would have throughout the Denver Metro area.

The ban on camping is an attack on the homeless in our community, and flies in the face of the command of God in Deuteronomy: Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

God calls on ALL of us, Christian or Jew, Businessperson or City Councilmember, Rich or Poor, to care for those in need. This proposed ban is a “hardening of the heart” as it is clear that the city of Denver does not currently have the shelter beds, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, affordable housing or living wage jobs to adequately deal with the issue. But instead of City Council addressing these issues, the hand is being closed to our poor brothers and sisters who will become a criminal simply for being who they are, homeless.

LAM letter (pdf)

Denver Catholic Worker: “The only solution is love”

The Denver Catholic Worker wrote Councilman Albus Brooks about the proposed ordinance to criminalize homelessness. They are located in his district.

We believe that the answer to homelessness lies not in legislation, coercive authority, or in criminalizing behavior. In the words of one of the founders of our movement, Dorothy Day, “The only solution is love.” What we mean is, that the only solution to homelessness, or other forms of poverty in our society, is human relationships; people being led by compassion to take personal responsibility for other people’s well being. We have a house, with extra bedrooms, so we have taken it upon ourselves to lend these rooms out to folks that don’t have any where else to go. These are probably the same poor people you see on your way into work everyday. We don’t get any government money for doing our work, and our reward is human relationships, and love shared through the time we spend with these people. We believe that this is an example of what other people can do. But we often fail to live up to the mission of our work, to serve these people as Christ, and perhaps our most common failure is that we don’t speak up for these people, or speak out against the injustices in the system that has caused much of their suffering.

One of our former guests reminded us that there needed to be more houses like ours. He said our house was the only place he stayed, during the entire time he was homeless, where he was treated with dignity. The homeless of Denver suffer not only houselessness, but also daily life of being treated without dignity, and these conditions are increasingly harder for people who are undocumented, transgendered or queer, females, minorities and those who have mental illnesses. As funding for shelters and housing is cut, and we continue to get more requests for help than we are able to respond to, the need for more people to help each other out on a relational level is obvious.

Denver Catholic Worker letter (pdf)

Additional statements against this ordinance can be found on our “Week Two” campaign page.

 

Working Group on Ordinance Criminalizing Homelessness, Occupy Denver