On Tuesday, a YouTube video became a part of a legal battle facing the City of Denver. It purportedly shows city workers throwing what appears to be a homeless person's cart full of belongings into a garbage truck.
Advocates said that violates a person's Constitutional rights. The city said they were following protocol because of what they found inside the cart.
Terese Howard works with Denver Homeless Out Loud and was there Monday morning when the video was taken. She said there's a reason a camera was already rolling near the Samaritan House in downtown Denver.
"A gentleman who’s been working with some folks on a documentary on homelessness had asked me about a good place and time to video some of what's goes on in the streets," she said.
So Howard set up near Lawrence and Park Avenue and then helped share close to two minutes of video Tuesday that show Denver city employees throwing the cart away.
"I've seen this happen before but had never caught it on camera," said Howard.
The video is particularly important to Jason Flores-Williams.
"This is some human being’s property," he said.
He is the lead counsel for the Denver homeless class action lawsuit, an on-going legal battle with the city.
"If you could have a one-minute video of what the lawsuit describes of the lawsuit - it's this," said Flores-Williams.
He said he watched the video and saw a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
No one from the city wouldn't go on camera but said a public works crew was doing a routine cleanup in the area when they found the cart by itself.
In an email, Heather Burke, a spokesperson with Denver Public Works, said there is a city ordinance - DRMC Sec. 49-246 - that states, "public streets, alleys, sidewalks, and other public spaces must remain free of all unauthorized encumbrances and obstruction."
Burke said city protocol also demands that "unattended items [be] stored temporarily, so long as such items do not pose a health or safety risk. Items are inventoried before they are taken to storage.”
Burke said the city has four storage pods with items waiting to be picked up.
After the crew found the cart Monday, she said they found feces, needles and homemade weapons she described as "modified sharp-looking metal objects."
Burke said per protocol, the crew threw the cart away. But Howard with Homeless Out Loud argued against that.
"If you find something that's dangerous along with things that aren't dangerous that doesn't mean you throw somebody’s whole life away,” Howard said.
Despite the city's side of the story, Williams-Flores said he plans to introduce this video in court when the trail is set to begin next March. The owner of the cart hasn't been found yet.