Homeless individuals filed a federal lawsuit on Monday in search of to cease Denver from clearing their encampments across the metropolis, saying the operations violate their constitutional rights and in addition increase the danger of spreading the coronavirus.
The lawsuit names Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and different metropolis officers and law enforcement officials as defendants but in addition Gov. Jared Polis for allegedly encouraging the sweep of an encampment of a park close to the state Capitol this summer time. It claims that town has not been giving homeless individuals sufficient discover of the sweeps as required underneath a category motion settlement reached final yr to keep away from having demonstrators present up and disrupt the operations. It additionally says town’s strategy of pushing individuals out of encampments violates CDC steerage in opposition to eradicating homeless individuals when there is no such thing as a particular person housing items out there for them.
“Regardless of this clear warning, Defendants selected to behave in direct contravention of public well being steerage and to violate the property and due course of rights of homeless people in a merciless and harmful method,” the lawsuit stated.
Denver opened two bigger shelters — one for males and one other for girls and transgender individuals — to permit for social distancing in the course of the pandemic.
Nonetheless, Andy McNulty, who represents the homeless plaintiffs in addition to the advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud within the case, stated individuals who keep in homeless shelters are at a better threat of contracting COVID-19, simply as persons are in jails.
A settlement reached final yr in one other case introduced by homeless individuals required town to offer individuals seven days discover earlier than conducting large-scale cleanups and property removing however did embrace an exception for emergencies.
A spokesperson for town lawyer’s workplace, Ryan Luby, stated town has not seen the lawsuit but however disagrees that it has violated the phrases of the settlement.
“The Metropolis works very arduous to attach individuals experiencing homelessness with companies, however can’t enable unsafe and unsanitary circumstances to proceed because it places everybody in danger, together with those that are experiencing homelessness,” he stated.
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A spokesperson for Polis, Conor Cahill, stated the workplace wouldn’t touch upon pending litigation.
The lawsuit got here a day earlier than an anticipated sweep of an encampment close to residence buildings a couple of blocks from the state Capitol.