Sidewalk Squatters - part 1

Last weekend, a small group of crusty kids and homeless began to defy a Denver's urban camping ban by sitting down on the 16th St Mall and refusing to stand when ordered to by police. Three arrests were made on Thursday, and multiple written and verbal warnings were being issued daily.

It is unlawful for an person to knowingly sit or lie down upon a public right-of-way (or upon any bedding, chair, stool, or other object placed upon the surface of the right-of-way) within the downtown Denver Business Improvement District between the hours of 7:00am and 9:00pm
— SS 38.86.1 Denver Revised Municipal Code


I first heard about the group on Wednesday when I passed by their "FUCK COPS" banner on the corner of 16th and Champa. The police had been coming through daily to move the group along with legal warnings.

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A number of the demonstrators were banded together by the music of the Insane Clown Posse. If you're not familiar with the ICP family, take 20 minutes to familiarize yourself.

On Friday, law enforcement officers seemed visibly irritated by the demonstrators, and the demonstrators verbally returned the sentiment.  Multiple times the police would roll up in an overwhelming convoy of 20+ officers in patrol cars and motorcycles to issue warnings. As they left, one member of the demonstration repeated "Thats right bitch niggas!" over and over until they were out of sight.


 

Two members of Occupy Denver also joined members of the sidewalk squatters to offer solidarity. Officers attempted to control them but they carried on with their support.

 

Despite tensions, police distributed information on shelters to the group and attempted to provide aid to some of the older homeless individuals. After the information was distributed many of those still on the sidewalk expressed concern for their personal wellbeing if they were to enter an overnight shelter.

 

I visited the group again on Saturday, but this time brought my Heroin Kills block and some material. I managed to squeeze out about 20 patches in an hour and made about 50% of my material costs back in donations while raising awareness for heroin abuse. About half of the patches went to the demonstrators themselves. Before I left one of the group told me that the protest was over, and that the people left were just homeless. But still, they remain, and so I hope you look forward to my deeper investigations next weekend.