Denver police ticket homeless people sleeping in parks

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DENVER -- The Denver Police Department enforced the city's park curfew Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Parks are closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Officers cited 36 people and nine people were arrested on felony warrants. It’s an enforcement some say is harassment of the homeless.

"It's just overkill," said homeless advocate Robert H., who didn’t want to reveal his last name. "Sleeping is a victimless crime."

He was one of the people ticketed by police. Robert documented the enforcement on Facebook Live as police moved in  at Cuernavaca Park at 1:30 a.m. He said the enforcement is unfair for people with no place to go.

"The city is responding to what people with money and power are wanting. They are not creating any solutions,” Robert said.

He said the city’s shelter system doesn’t work and there is a crisis when it comes to affordable housing.

"This was to help with community complaints of unsafe living and conditions upon the river, under the pass," Denver police officer Ligeia Craven said.

Craven said people were complaining of not being able to walk home at night, walk their kids or pets.

"I'm a native. I would have concerns walking down by myself," Craven said.

There is a seedy and not-so-secret side of what's happening along Cherry Creek and the South Platte River.

"This is a work in progress. But what we will not tolerate is unsafe, unsanitary conditions to exist in our city," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Monday during his State of the City speech.

After the curfew enforcement, crews came in and cleaned up trash that was left behind. Police said shelters are trying to help, with places to stay and other services.

"We are not out to get the homeless. We are not after them. We understand people are homeless. But to make sure it’s safe for the community, we have to make sure enforcements take place," Craven said.

This is the city's first enforcement this year. It had three last year. Police don't know when they'll have the next one.

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