DENVER — Civic Center Park is a typical destination for those seeing Denver for the first time. But lately, something that hasn’t been seen in years is lining up along the sidewalks: tents.
“As a tourist coming here, you want to see the outside, you want to see the monuments, you want to see the Capitol,” said Shane Wiggins, who was visiting from Mississippi. “If you were doing this on your own, I would feel a little more afraid.”
A row of tents lines the street leading up to Colorado’s Capitol after Denver’s urban camping ban was ruled unconstitutional by a county judge.
Denver police are no longer enforcing the ban while the appeal process is underway. The city attorney’s office says it plans on appealing a ruling that deemed that ban “cruel and unusual punishment.”
“That was my instinct all along, that it was cruel and unusual punishment,” said Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca.
She is leading an effort to repeal the ban through City Council.
“When you’re a city and starved of public dollars, and you have a ruling that a law you’re enforcing is cruel and unusual, you should repeal that law,” CdeBaca said.
CdeBaca says the ruling could open the city up for a lawsuit.
Mayor Michael Hancock has supported the ban, and would likely veto any push to repeal it.
In May 2019, more than 80 percent of Denverites who voted shot down a ballot measure to repeal the ban.
But with no enforcement, the issue is out in the open more than ever. CdeBaca suggests using resources more on housing-first initiatives, and/or going back to other methods the city used in the past, including opening indoor public spaces to the homeless during the day.