Members of the Denver City Council will soon vote on a proposal that would make it illegal, and impose fines or jail time, for sleeping outside on public property anywhere in the city.
That’s right; the plan is to criminalize homelessness in Denver.
On Monday, April 30, at 5:30 pm in City Council Chambers, the Council will take public comment. Sign up at 5 pm. Let your voice be heard in opposition to this wrong-headed plan.
Though activist Denise Maes, Public Policy Director for the ACLU of Colorado, believes it will be a fight to the finish, there is still hope that we might change the minds of at least three members of Council -- ordinance sponsor Brooks and Council members Susman and Robb.
Give them a piece of your mind. Tell them to reject this ordinance now before its too late because its unnecessary, mean-spirited and potentially unconstitutional.
At any given time, the number of homeless persons in Denver far exceeds the number of available shelter beds. The proposed ordinance provides two choices: leave Denver or go to jail.
People who are homeless are afforded all the rights and protections guaranteed by the Constitution and should not be made criminals because they need to sleep outside. The proposed Denver ordinance is neither productive nor humane.
“When homeless shelters are closed or full, it is terribly unfair, and unconstitutional," said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein, "to impose fines and jail sentences on persons who have no choice but to sleep outdoors... For the sake of justice for those who are homeless, we must turn back this proposal.”
Some appear ready to pass the ordinance at all cost. But tell Denver City Council to turn back now.
Don't pass an ordinance that would criminalize homelessness in the city.
Dear Members of Council:
Much has been said about the proposed ordinance that would make it illegal, and impose fines or jail time, for sleeping outside on public property anywhere in the city.
What I want you to know is that, as a supporter of the ACLU of Colorado, I remain convinced that this ordinance criminalizes homeless.
It provides two choices: leave Denver or go to jail. But the fact is, there are so few beds available for homeless persons in our city and too many times there is no other option except to sleep outdoors.
Denver can do better than this proposal.
For the sake of justice, let's turn the city-wide "camping" ban back now.