In a video that has now gone viral, police officers with the Denver PD are seen taking blankets from homeless people during frigid winter temperatures. The officers were enforcing an ordinance that ban people from “unauthorized camping” on public sidewalks. The police department released a statement saying the blankets, tents, and other winter survival gear was confiscated as “evidence.”
The Denver PD has since released a press statement supposedly explaining what was actually taking place in the captured footage.
In a survey done in January 2016, the city of Denver had 5,728 homeless individuals on one-single night alone. Denver isn’t the only major city dealing with a huge spike in its homeless population. The number of homeless people throughout America at the beginning of 2016 was pegged at 549,928 and increasing. An estimated 700 plus homeless individuals die of hypothermia each year in America when outside temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Groups such as the ACLU are condemning police departments for criminalizing homelessness. The police department in Denver have been issuing homeless people tickets for $999 for violating the public camping ordinance. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless spokeswoman Cathy Alderman, issued a statement that said the organization is “disappointed in the aggressive enforcement actions taken” by the city’s police department in moving the homeless along, instead of providing a legitimate solution to the homeless situation.
Since the release of the videos on November 28th & 29th, the city of Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, has directed police to stop taking blankets and camping equipment from homeless individuals until April 2017, when outside temperatures start to warm-up.