Homeless coming to Denver for pot, causing havoc on the 16th Street Mall

Denver7's cameras caught a drug deal on video
Posted at 11:14 PM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 02:17:52-04

DENVER -- We all knew it was happening, and the guy behind the wild pipe attack on the 16th Street Mall confirmed it during a jailhouse interview with Denver7.

"What brought you to Denver?" asked reporter Jennifer Kovaleski on Wednesday.

"I came here to basically start a new life and, you know, the marijuana helps my schizophrenia," said Clarence Seeley, 32, the man accused in the attack.

Officials say urban travelers like Seeley are coming to Denver for the legal pot, causing havoc on the 16th Street Mall.

"Probably around 20 to 30 percent of people say that they're coming here just because of the legalized weed," said Julie Smith with Denver Human Services.

Smith said it happens every summer.

"Folks tend to just pop into the city and then as soon as the cold weather hits they are gone," she said. "We just try to keep evolving how we handle those problems."

Denver7's cameras caught a drug deal go down outside the McDonald's located off 16th Street and Cleveland Place. A homeless man is seen selling weed to a couple of tourists.

In the video you can see a man in black hoodie hand over the weed, a guy in a white shirt smells it, before the girl he's with pays for it.

"It's not going to be tolerated in our city to act out in appropriately," said Smith. She said the city is taking several approaches to try and deal with urban travelers.

"Finding out where they came from, who is there to support them in their hometown, getting them transportation back and making that arrangement," said Smith. "Or getting them into treatment programs."

It's a complex problem without any easy solutions.

"They don't necessarily want to be a good fit in our community," said Smith.

Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez called it one of the downsides of legal marijuana.

"It's unfortunate that city resources are wasted on enforcement-only policies that simply drive people out of the mall and into parks and neighborhood alleys when they instead should be going into units with services for addiction and mental health," said Lopez.

A spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock provided Denver7 with this statement:

"We are working closely with police, prosecutors and courts to combat illegal activity taking place on the 16th Street Mall and in our public spaces. Each individual we come across has a unique story and situation and a city's approach to helping them must be just as diverse." 

The Downtown Denver Partnership tolde Denver7 earlier this week it is adding private security to the mall as early as mid-August.


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