DENVER (CBS4) — Denver police blocked off the area surrounding Morey Middle School Wednesday morning where crews were cleaning up a homeless camp. The camp has grown in recent weeks, especially after the camp near the state Capitol was removed last week.
Signs were posted alerting residents and onlookers that the area was restricted during the cleanup to those experiencing homelessness and those hoping to help people. Crowds gathered outside the restricted zone to urge police to let them in to help those camped out there.
Mental health workers, outreach workers and homeless service providers were at the encampment during the cleanup. It is likely that members of the nonprofit trying to set up a managed campsite, possibly in the parking lot of the Denver Coliseum, were also there.
At one point there were some 80 tents in the encampment near Morey Middle School, which left residents uneasy about trash, human waste and disease. Last month, a woman was attacked in her apartment complex near the camp, although it was unclear whether the suspect was someone who lived in the camp.
Last week, crowds became unruly outside the fence put up by the Colorado State Patrol during the Lincoln Park cleanup. Some tried to push through the fence and Denver police tried to keep the crowds away. During the altercation, Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson somehow fell, according to police, or he claims he was knocked to the ground and hit his head.
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment says among homeless camps already in place, there’s outbreaks of Hepatitis A and a bacterial infection that causes severe digestive issues, known as Shigellosis.
In addition to outbreaks of Hepatitis A and Shigellosis, there have also been cases of “Trench Fever” linked to the camps in Denver. The condition is most commonly diagnosed among people experiencing homelessness or living in conditions where good hygiene is difficult.
In the past, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has told CBS4 that there are other entities involved in the homeless camps, not just those struggling, and that there are radical groups involved in the resistance to get help to those experiencing homeless.
“This is very intentional. Let’s not play games with the fact that we know there is an agenda behind this and they want to provoke the city, they want to provoke businesses, they want to provoke law enforcement,” said Hancock.
Hancock said there are enough beds for everyone experiencing homeless in Denver to get a safe place to sleep.