Once known as The Queen City of the Plains or the Gateway to the Rockies, Denver is rapidly descending into a cesspool of violence and filth. Fifteen years ago, if I met a friend for dinner in LoDo or went to a game at Pepsi Center, I would walk back along the 16th Street Mall at 10 or 11 p.m. with little concern for my safety. Today, it’s not worth the risk or the hassle.
Denver’s “progressive” politicians are allowing this once great city to become a rat’s nest that is unsafe for families, inhospitable to businesses, and an embarrassment to all Coloradans.
Since 1894, our State Capitol has been a majestic sight on Denver’s Capitol Hill. When I worked there, I remember walking along 16th Street early in the morning, viewing the Gold Dome as it reflected the rising sun like a beacon shining beyond the downtown office buildings.
Today, the grand old building stands disgraced as never before by vandalism that began in late May and — due to the inaction of Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock — has continued for weeks. Sprayed profanities reach 15 feet high on its marble walls. Windows have been shot out, and those that remain on the ground level are covered with plywood.
CBS4 reports: “The State Capitol is almost unrecognizable. The granite walls are covered in graffiti, windows and lights are shattered, and monuments and memorials are defaced or destroyed. Night after night, the vandals have come back to cause more damage.”
Never in its 126 years has our Capitol been so disgraced, not only by the mobs who attacked it but by the leaders entrusted to protect it.
That’s just one example of Denver’s descent.
Between the Capitol and Denver’s City and County Building lies Liberty Park. Once a grassy rectangle crossed by school children en route to the Capitol, the grass has been stomped out by “homeless campers.” Sprinklers no longer water, accommodating the campers but abandoning the grass. Tents cover block after block of city sidewalks near the Capitol, along Speer Boulevard, and adjacent to schools.
Local residents are unsafe on tent-filled sidewalks. Just last week, three people were shot in Liberty Park. The camps are littered with human feces, rats, needles and disease. The smell of urine fills the air. Businesses are fined if they don’t clean up the mess that campers leave behind.
Although Denver voters backed the city’s “urban camping” ban by 84% to 15%, a dubious district judge ruled the ban unconstitutional. Denver officials consider the camps a health hazard, but politicians are unwilling to order them removed.
A block west lies Civic Center Park, a common rallying point for public demonstrations. On July 19, hundreds of citizens gathered in support of law enforcement, but their lawful assembly was overrun by armed thugs from antifa and Black Lives Matters. According to reports, Denver Police were ordered not to intervene to protect the lawful rally. Apparently one officer defied the stand-down order, preventing an even bloodier melee.
Gov. Polis and Mayor Hancock shut down productive businesses for COVID-19, but they’ve done nothing meaningful to stop anarchists from attacking our Capitol or law-abiding citizens. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann gives vandals a free pass for “crimes against property,” so arrests are rare. Denver residents must wonder why they pay steep taxes on property that police and prosecutors deem unworthy to protect.
No Denver resident that I know agrees with these policies. They believe their buildings, businesses and homes should be protected. They believe people should be safe in public parks. They believe citizens exercising their right to assemble peaceably should be protected.
Not long ago, elected Democrats believed in public safety and that the law applied to everyone equally. Today’s “progressive” Democrat leaders appear paralyzed by fear, more concerned with appeasing anarchists than with protecting this once-great city.
Mark Hillman served as Colorado's state treasurer and Senate majority leader. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.