The city of Denver has cleared a homeless encampment on the grounds of Saint John's Cathedral at 14th Avenue and North Washington Street after receiving neighbors’ complaints about health conditions.
Denverite reports that advocates for people experiencing homelessness have been opposed to the cleanups, with residents of the encampments being told by police that they could not return.
Richard Lawson, a dean at the Episcopal Church, told Denverite that “Everybody who’s been camping here is God’s child and is doing the best they can….They’ve found a home here and a refuge here.”
Nevertheless, he reported that one of the encampment's residents had threatened volunteers maintaining a garden on the grounds of the cathedral. Other neighbors called the city to report lack of face coverings, social distancing violations and drug dealing in the makeshift community.
“They’ve got an outside party going on over there,” said one man.
"First the campers are told that after the 'cleaning' they can move back," posted Denver Homeless Out Loud on its Facebook page, along with multiple videos of the cleanup. "But, when the day comes for the 'cleaning', the city says it is closing the sidewalk for 'repairs'. Thus turning the cleaning into a SWEEP. What that means in practice is that the city fences the area off so our homeless cannot access it."
A city spokesperson told Denverite that the encampment residents could "return to the area if they wish" upon completion of temporary fencing.