Dehumanizing the Dehumanized: Denver’s Urban Camping Ban

I am officially ashamed to say that I live in Denver.

Don’t get me wrong.  I really like living here.  There are so many cool people, and the mountains . . . oh the mountains!  Plus, there’s some cool activism going on that I love being a part of.  Oh, and the weather is great!

The politics?  Not so much.  Earlier this week, the Republicans in the Colorado state legislature killed a bill that would allow civil unions for lesbian and gay couples.  As I usually do with CO state politics, I was able to say, “Well, CO state politics are shitty, but at least I live in the progressive bastion of Denver!”

Except that only a few hours later, Denver did this:

Whaaat?  Seriously?  In essence, it is now illegal to be homeless in Denver.

Now, if the “Urban Camping Ban” had been a part of a wider effort to actually offer services that get the homeless on their feet and off the street, I would probably be for it, but that is in no way the reason or rhetoric around why it was passed.  Advocates, primarily business owners in downtown Denver and our hyper-pro-business mayor, claim that the blight of homeless people sleeping in public places is bad for business.  Essentially, “People don’t want to come to my store when there are icky people around!”  Despite that wildly dehumanizing rhetoric, the ban was passed.

There are two main problems that I see in the legislation.  The first is simply practical.  Where are homeless folks to go if they can’t sleep in parks, sidewalks, or other public spaces?

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