DENVER (CBS4)– The controversial camping ban in Denver officially takes effect next week. It’s seen by some as criminalizing the homeless but police claim that’s not true.
The new law will impact more than just those who spend their nights on the 16th Street Mall. There is an entire community living along the banks of the Platte River.
When asked what he would do when the camping ban goes into effect next week, one man who calls a piece of plywood home replied, “I don’t know.”
Police believe arrests will only be made as a last resort.
“Any response would be as a result of being called there by a businessman or community member and we will be working hand in hand with an outreach worker,” said Denver Police Detective John White.
If police come across people in need of medical and human services they are to summon help. Simply falling asleep on the street corner or a park bench is not a crime. But having an actual campsite will be.
Those who are camping said they have little to lose.
“Couple of nights in jail, that’s the city’s problem. They’re feeding me, giving me a place to stay. Three hot meals a day and a cot. Go ahead,” said one camper who didn’t want to be identified.
Another camper expressed the need for empathy, “Any one of us, you included, are one or two paychecks away from this situation.”
“You can’t be here because you’re homeless? That’s wrong to do to people. That’s a terrible, terrible thing,” said another man camping by the banks.
The law goes into effect May 29 but there will be a grace period before police begin enforcing it.