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Food trucks fight back after LoDo ban prevents them from operating

The ban comes after Denver police shot a man in LoDo, also injuring 6 bystanders. Now, the city is forcing food trucks to set up shop blocks away from the crowds.

DENVER — On a street packed with bars, Sanjin Mutic found his spot at a parking meter near 20th and Larimer streets.

For years now, he’s catered to the masses streaming out of LoDo bars on weekend nights, running a gyro food truck his family owns. For now, that’s over.  

"We are the bottom of the totem pole," said Mutic. "We are the easiest to kick out. We’re here on a conditional city permit, so that can be revoked in a minute."

The City of Denver and Denver Police (DPD) said they’ve found a solution to rising crime in LoDo. Mutic’s gyro truck and the rest of the food trucks are now banned from the area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, forced to set up shop blocks away, far from the bars and the people.  

It comes weeks after DPD officers shot a man with a gun outside a LoDo bar. Officers injured six innocent bystanders, some of who were waiting in line at a food truck. 

While police said the new rules will increase public safety by discouraging people from gathering outside bars, Mutic argues the ban also misses the target.

"We’ll take out the food trucks and problem solved," Mutic said sarcastically. "Reality is the crowds are still going to be here, they’re still going to be drinking, partying and the police will still have to be involved for keeping the peace down here."

Mutic took his concerns to the city council this week, though he said he’s heard little back. He’s from Bosnia, proud to be speaking up for a community of immigrant food truck owners he worries don’t have a voice.

"Ninety-nine percent of the trucks down here are owned by immigrants, people who speak broken English, who have much more limited access to resources than a bar or restaurant, a hotel down the street would," said Mutic. "If we’re speaking about 20 food trucks, you’re most likely looking at 30 to 40 families that rely on a livelihood from down here."

This isn’t DPD’s only strategy to try and control crowds outside of LoDo bars. The department told 9NEWS that in the past several months they’ve installed new portable lights, closed down streets in the area to cars and increased DUI patrols. 

There are still questions surrounding the recent shooting with DPD officers, including the department’s refusal to release body camera video.

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Credit: KUSA
A customer waits outside food truck Chili Con Quesadilla.

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