Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made the rounds on local morning news shows Monday to talk about a video released over the weekend.
The video shows Denver police taking blankets away from homeless people during a particularly cold November night.
9NEWS reviewed that video, as well as police body camera video of the downtown homeless camp cleanups with the attorney suing the city over its efforts to enforce its no camping policy.
“It's all they own in the world. It's all they have for survival. It's all they have as far as their home,” said attorney Jason Flores-Williams. "The seizure of the property itself violates the United States Constitution, the fourth amendment. So what they are trying to do is backdoor in due process protections to the seizure of property which is impermissible."
Officers can be seen on the body cam video taken near the downtown shelters doing their best to explain where people can store and later pick up their items. Some homeless people refuse to follow the city’s ban on urban camping leading to written warnings.
“He absolutely has a right to refuse to give his tent up,” Flores-Williams said. “The tent is all he has as far as survival. All he has to protect himself.”
But what’s really bothering him is video released this weekend of police taking blankets from a group of homeless people who had set up camp in front of the city and county building.
The mayor released a statement saying he has directed police to no longer take camping equipment from the homeless this winter. He had this to say on 9NEWS mornings:
"The confiscation of the blankets and tents is not a widespread practice of the police department. The reality is we had three individuals who were protesting, were camping out in front of city hall after repeated requests to move along they were cited. Once they were cited, now you have proceedings that must follow and they needed evidence to go with those proceedings," Hancock said.
The video has inflamed the debate over how the city handles it's growing homeless problem.
Homeless advocates like Flores-Williams hope videos like this will be an eye-opener.
“I already knew this was going on. But now, hopefully the courts and the people of Denver will see this is going on and decide to rise up and do something about it because this isn't who we are,” said Flores-Williams.
The mayor reiterated this morning that the camping ban is a health and safety issue. There are hundreds of beds open in even the coldest nights but that's not always an option for some people.
Police will be able to begin confiscating tents and blankets once the weather starts warming up in April.