Rallies for homeless on 16th Street Mall hurting downtown businesses, workers say

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DENVER -- Some businesses along the 16th Street Mall said rallies supporting Denver's homeless population are causing customers to avoid the area.

For the past several Sundays, a group known as Occupy Denver has been on the mall speaking out against the city's urban camping ban.

"There’s a reason that each of us does this, but we’re not just a bunch of rag-tag activists. We're business leaders, we're professionals, we’re a community that [has] experienced homelessness and it’s a touched us in a way that we want to do something different," said Brian Loma with Occupy Denver.

On Sunday, the group provided a meal and clothes for the homeless in a public space.

The group says it wants to call attention to an upcoming vote that would ask citizens to repeal the camping ban and approve a "Right to Rest" act. It’s also trying to put pressure on businesses to support city ordinances that the group says would treat the homeless with more compassion.

However, some business owners along 16th Street fear what the rallies are doing to their bottom line.

"People don’t really want to come over here or get involved in it all. And then everybody just keeps questioning it and trying to figure out what’s going on," said Morgan Correa, who manages a nearby store.

Many of their protests have been staged directly in front of the Corner Bakery, where business is reportedly down.

Protesters say they will continue to demonstrate until more compassionate laws for the homeless are adopted.

Some people posted pictures on the group's Facebook page saying the protest was a peaceful action.

Occupy Denver says it plans to be on the 16th Street Mall again next Sunday.

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