Three homeless campers face arraignment for controversial camping ban

Advocates say criminalization of poor continues
Posted at 6:45 AM, Dec 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-28 13:54:32-05

DENVER-- Three members of Denver’s homeless population are taking their camping ban case to trial.

Attorney Jason Flores-Williams is representing Jerry Burton, Terese Howard and Randy Russell. All three pleaded not guilty to violating the city’s camping ban.

Flores-Williams said if they lose, the three could face six months in jail.

He said the three could’ve simply pleaded guilty and faced a small fine or little repercussion, but they pleaded not guilty on a matter of principal.

The controversial law makes it illegal for people to camp overnight on city property.

Tensions surrounding the law rose as Denver's temperatures plummeted. A video surfaced in early December, showing Denver Police officers taking away blankets from homeless people camped along city sidewalks.

Mayor Michael Hancock ordered police to stop, and also pointed the homeless to area shelters for better protection from frigid temperatures and winter elements.

The three said their blankets and tents were taken. Their attorney pushed for a motion to get their belongings returned. At Monday's arraignment, the judge said he would leave that decision to the trial judge.

Flores-Williams argued the Mayor’s orders change the law, “He has changed the nature of the law and yet at the same time we're being prosecuted for it. So there's a real chance here, that this court may not even have jurisdiction over this case, because of the unconstitutional situation the Mayor has created."

Flores-Williams added, "The mayor is either talking out of both sides of his mouth or is not in control of the situation."


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.