By Melissa Garcia
DENVER (CBS4)– Some Denver residents are demanding that next year’s 4/20 rally be relocated after a large amount of trash was scattered throughout Civic Center Park following Thursday’s event.
Water bottles, smashed food, and other nasty garbage littered the park lawn and pavement.
Organizers said the trash had been cleaned up after the event, and that someone had then dumped out close to 80 bags of garbage overnight.
Sonny Jackson, a spokesman with the Denver Police Department, said that officers had detained and released a man with a pocket knife shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday who had been looking through trash at the park.
An organizer who had called police to report the man did not want to file charges, Jackson said. The man’s role in the trash mess was unclear.
While it was unknown how many people may have taken part in scattering the garbage, an onsite worker with Denver Parks and Recreation said that he believed some members of Denver’s homeless population were to blame.
“I’m ashamed of this,” said Dawnarie Brooks’s, a Denver resident and volunteer who rolled up her sleeves and pitched in to help event staff clean up the smelly mess the day before Earth Day.
“We live here,” Brooks’s said. “For those of you who don’t live here, we’re a green state. Reduce, recycle, reuse, please… Pick it up.”
“The park had been picked up last night,” explained Santino Walter, who produced the 4/20 event. “All the trash had been placed in about 74 big trash bags.”
He believed the trash bags were dumped out by a few individuals who may have been hungry.
“This was my fault,” Walter said. “This was a producer mistake. I should have at midnight when I staged all the stuff, I should have made sure that we were set up to have all the trash bags thrown into the roll-off.”
Staff with the Civic Center Conservancy said organizers of other large events in the past had hired overnight security to guard onsite dumpsters in order to prevent the trashy mess seen Friday.
A petition posted by Friends of Civic Center Park on Change.org is asking for Denver’s future 4/20 rally to find a new home.
The petition referenced crime, noise, and trash disgracing the national historic landmark.
“We didn’t damage anything in the park,” Walter said. “Essentially, a bunch of trash cans got dumped, which leads to a really bad photo opportunity.”
Denver Parks and Recreation officials said the event organizer paid a damage deposit of $2,831.25.
A spokesperson with the city’s Office of Special Events said that some or all of the deposit might not be returned to the organizer depending on what city maintenance crews find in their walk-though at the park on Saturday.
4/20 organizers have until Friday at midnight in order to clean up any remaining mess before the event permit expires.
The City of Denver Office of Special Events released this statement: “We are disappointed with what happened last night and the state of Civic Center Park this morning. This is the worst we’ve seen the park after an event. Event organizers are responsible for their own trash plan and had a plan that included initial clean up last night and clean-up throughout today. We have addressed clean up with event organizers and they are working to continue clean up throughout the day. Their event permit expires at midnight tonight when they must return the park to us in the state they found it. We are working to make sure this never happens again. Civic Center Park is one our most sought after parks and one we take particular pride in given it’s the front yard of Denver and has special significance as a national historic landmark.“