Today, a motion challenging the constitutionality of Denver’s survival ban was filed by Andy McNulty of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP. The motion spells out the myriad ways the “unauthorized camping ban” (better called survival ban) violates the United States and Colorado Constitutions. The challenge comes because Denver is again trying to criminalize Jerry Burton for simply trying to survive while homeless. The full motion is attached.
Jerry Burton states, “I will not trade away my rights. Period.”
Andy McNulty states, “Denver’s byzantine system of laws aimed at criminalizing every activity that our homeless neighbors must do to survive is unconstitutional. It is clear that these laws were put into place by the political cronies of developers to drive Denver’s homeless residents out of the city. Not only are laws like the Camping Ban unconstitutional, they are immoral. This motion sends a message that Denver’s homeless residents have the same rights as the rest of us, and Denver cannot target them without bearing the consequences.”
The motion is being filed in a case where Jerry Burton was given a ticket, and faces possible jail time, for sleeping with cover while homeless. Jerry Burton received this survival ban ticket from police on April 29, 2019, near 29th and Arkins Court. While Jerry was the only person ticketed, he was together with 20 other homeless people who had been surviving together as a group for weeks. It was a cold evening. Earlier in the day, Jerry and the others had been forced to move three times by the police; they were pushed from more downtown locations to a less visible, and more dangerous, area near the river. Despite having previously complying with the “move along” orders, police came again around midnight to harass Jerry and the others and, ultimately, give Jerry a ticket for simply trying to survive. After Jerry was given the citation, the group moved all the way down river to Thornton in order to avoid more harassment from the Denver police.
This case comes after the City of Denver is just settling a lawsuit against for violating homeless people’s 4th amendment rights to property in sweeps wherein the City was forced to spend millions of dollars. Denver’s continued criminalization of survival will continue to cost it time and money that could be better spent on housing and other proven solutions.
(Note: this is happening one day before the City is threatening a mass impending sweep, violating the class action lawsuit, Lyall v City of Denver, which protects property rights in sweeps)
Denver Homeless Out Loud