Jerry Burton, defendant in this case, speaks at a rally
In December 2019, the Denver County Judge Barahas ruled that the Denver Camping Ban law was unconstitutional – cruel and unusual punishment. The City appealed it to the Denver District Court where Judge Eric Elliff just ruled the opposite – ruling the ban is constitutional. This Judge’s ruling is wrong. This fight will continue to a higher court as we continue to struggle to survive without housing while being chased around and ticketed by cops following an unconstitutional law.
Courts around the nation have found camping ban laws unconstitutional noting them as cruel and unusual punishment. More importantly, people living without housing find these laws to be cruel and unusual punishment. How laws that make it illegal to cover yourself with a blanket in freezing weather are NOT considered cruel is beyond understanding. This latest Judge’s ruling depends entirely on the idea that shelters are viable, available places to PUT people. It is time we ask…what really is the difference between being told to go to a shelter and being told to go to jail??
After halting enforcement of the camping ban at the start of the COVID crisis, the Mayor has now directed police to engage camping ban enforcement as of August 7th 2020 – this direction is in opposition of CDC guidance concerning encampments during covid. The practice of chasing people from one block to another without housing them is not only cruel, it is ineffective. To continue this Ineffective practice makes no sense. People living on the streets have no other options and as a result are living in constant fear and instability as police descend on camps running people’s names, arresting anyone with old warrants no matter how petty, forcing people to pack up and move at any hour of the day or night.
This fight is not done. As long as people are living without housing, told their survival is a crime, the fight on the streets, in the legislator, and in the courts will continue.