DENVER (KDVR) — Four Winds American Indian Council is demanding the City of Denver cease its actions against the homeless Native American population in Denver. More specifically, those camping at Four Winds.
The city issued a homeless sweep of the area next to Four Winds on Aug. 31 at West Fifth Avenue and Bannock Street. The sweep sparked outrage amongst the indigenous community, gathering protestors during the clearing of the camp.
Four Winds and their legal counsel make the argument that the homeless camp was on their property, and that the residents co-existed peacefully with neighbors in the area. They stated the encampment was clean and orderly, maintaining respect for the surrounding community.
The indigenous homeless affectionately called the encampment the “Denver Indigenous Refugee Camp.” For Four Winds and its homeless residents, the sweep was a slap in the face.
“[Denver] is built on stolen Indian land, in violation of sacred treaties, and the Mayor’s camping ban is continuing that legacy,” one camp resident said.
Four Winds and its legal council state that the action Denver has taken against the center is illegal. Four Winds is claiming violations against their 4th Amendment rights and 14th Amendment rights and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Four Winds’ legal counsel addressed these violations in an official letter to Mayor Michael Hancock.
Denver’s actions against Four Winds’ homeless camp didn’t stop after the sweep. A chain-link fence was constructed outside of Four Winds, in addition to a Denver Police officer being stationed near the building 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The city is also asking Four Winds to convert its facility into a homeless shelter, according to Four Winds’ legal counsel.
Four Winds is asking the City of Denver to stop these actions, and to negotiate these issues further.