Homeless stand their ground during sweep of downtown camp

9NEWS @ 5. 11/15/2016

KUSA - An attempt to cleanup a homeless camp in downtown Denver on Tuesday didn't go quite as planned.          

City crews had hoped to clear some of the most congested sidewalks, but at the end of the day, at least one stretch didn't change much.

For several hours, cleanup crews swept sidewalks and packed containers with things belonging to the homeless, but some refused to move from the corner of Broadway and Lawrence. 

“We're gonna try to stand here as long as we can and hold the cops off and the garbage people from coming in a taking all of our stuff,” Lattiah Fabre said.

The city's Department of Human Services says police were there not to arrest the homeless, but to protect workers cleaning the sidewalks.

In places they reek of urine and are sometimes hard to navigate because of the encampment. 

Department of Human Services Communications Director Julie Smith, said,

“We've seen some bio-hazards coming up in that area," Department of Human Services Communications Director Julie Smith said. "We have some safety concerns and really what we want to is to connect people to safe and clean shelter spaces.”

Smith said there are as many as 200 places for the homeless to stay every night. 

Still the homeless are fighting back and have filed a lawsuit challenging the city's efforts to remove them from public sidewalks. 

“The lawsuit… is to stop doing this. Stop sweeping people out," attorney Jason Flores-Williams said. "Stop taking their property and stop treating these people like trash.”

Flores-Williams encouraged the homeless to take a stand -- and they did.

“It’s horrible. This is like an atrocity," a homeless person named Kaz said. "We’re humans. We're not dirt. We're not garbage.”

City crews say they'll be back Wednesday, trying to finish cleaning the area which has become a dangerous eyesore.        

According to Denver Human Services, Tuesday’s sweep is the second one in that area so far this year.

There have been more in other areas of Denver.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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