When: February 16th, 2017 2:30pm
Where: Lindsay Flanagan Court House
On February 16th, 2017 2:30pm at the Lindsay Flanagan Court House Jerry Burton, Terese Howard and Randy Russell will have a motions hearing for their case under the changes of “unauthorized camping” which is defined as “using any form of protection from the elements other than one’s clothing.” These three individuals are facing, according to the law, up to $999 or a year in jail for the crime of using blankets to try to stay warm on a cold winter night. The city has dedicated massive resources to continue to prosecute these individuals for using protection from the cold weather. The city feels so entitled in its treatment of the poor and homeless that it submitted a 34 person witness list 7 days after the court deadline and only two weeks prior to trial. This motions hearing will determine if the city’s witness list, 33 of which are police, will be accepted or denied.
After these viral videos surfaced of police taking Burton and Russell’s blankets and tents “as evidence” of their crime of camping first at 27th and Arapahoe where they had been surviving for months and second at city hall where they moved in front of the Mayor’s office with no where else to go; and after lawyers informed the city they would be filing a temporary restraining order against the city of Denver for putting people’s lives at risk by seizing homeless people’s blankets in freezing weather, Mayor Hancock gave a public directive to the Police Department to stop taking homeless people’s blankets and survival gear when enforcing the camping ban (but only until April when apparently the Mayor thinks that people won’t need any blankets or protection to sleep outdoors).
In spite of the Mayor’s unintentional admission that the camping ban is putting people’s lives at risk by taking their survival gear, the city is still actively enforcing the camping ban – forcing people to move and hide around the city in what could be aptly termed a game of “homeless whack-a-mole.”
The problem is this is not a game – this is people’s lives.
Burton, Howard, and Russell have pleaded not guilty and will be bringing their cases to trial together as a joint trial, represented by attorney Jason Flores-Williams. As the City, under the direction of the Mayor, uses our tax dollars to prosecute these cases of public survival while homeless, we will continue to stand up in the courts, city council, state capitol, and on the streets to bring this injustice to an end.
Come to the motions hearing on Thursday February 16th.