Despite pleas to call off a planned sweep, the city of Denver will press ahead with clearing the surrounding homeless camp. Four Winds American Indian Council.
“They can stop the sweep tomorrow; they just don’t want to,” says Skye Roosevelt Morris, a member of Four Winds, which has a community center on West Fifth Avenue and Bannock Street.
The survey is scheduled to begin in the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 31. The camp of about twenty people wraps around the lawn along the sidewalk in front of the center, which provides drinking water and electricity to the residents.
“Right now, the camp is almost entirely Native American, and these are really people who have been — that is — refugees in their homelands, because of Denver politics as well as the historical situation, with 98 percent of the lands being — that is — refugees in their homelands,” says Matthew Parsons, president of the Four Winds American Indian Council. The aborigines were robbed and all treaties violated.
Sharon Barth, a 51-year-old Native American woman who has lived in the vicinity for more than two months, says she and other homeless Natives have set up a camp near the Native American community center because we are “citizens and this is an indigenous church; Native owned.” “.
“Mr. Hancock walked with natives before on Columbus Day,” Barth says. “He should understand what we’re going through.” She adds that she is connected to housing in Aurora through the Colorado Homeless Alliance, but she won’t move into housing until all of her best friends on the street have joined the housing, too.
Camp residents and leadership of the American Indian Council of the Four Winds met Mayor Michael Hancock Around noon on August 30th.
Says Anna Cornelius, an organizer with Denver homeless. “Residents got hotel vouchers for fourteen days without any support on the back end. Most of these people had several scans.”
Denver has several laws the city cites when clearing campgrounds, including a camping ban and the Public Right of Way Act. Denver officials have continued to sweep homeless camps throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against combing unless individual housing is available.
Although Cornelius feels that the meeting was closer to the same age than the mayor’s office, Hancock’s staff put it differently.
“The meeting was productive, and alternative options were discussed for those who were in the camp. Also, many individuals in the camp were already associated with housing through outreach efforts,” says Mike Strutt, a spokesperson for Mayor Hancock.
While Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Alaska Natives make up only 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent of Metro Denver’s population, respectively, these groups represent 1.5 percent and 5.6 percent of the homeless population in 2020 point in time of people suffering from homelessness in the area.
In the lead up to the campaign, the Four Winds American Indian Council had been lobbying for the Hancock administration to create an alternative site for those staying in the camp.
“We’re asking them to help create a safe outdoor space that the Indigenous people prefer, so this won’t happen in the future and people can have a place to go that’s approved by the city and has resources attached to it so the service isn’t interrupted,” Parsons says.
But while adjacent lands have already been identified for a potential safe outdoor space — there are currently two such areas in Denver — no firm schedules have been set for when the space will be operational.
Meanwhile, as he approaches, Roosevelt Morris says, “If that means civil resistance tomorrow, that means civil resistance tomorrow. If that means camp returning after the walls are removed, camp back after the walls have fallen.”
Roosevelt Morris welcomes people to visit the community center this evening to spend the night indoors so that they are “inside the walls when the walls rise.”