4

Class Certification Granted to Thousands of Homeless Suing Denver Over Sweeps

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Today, Thursday, April 27, U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez granted class certification in a lawsuit that challenges Denver's homeless sweeps. According to the attorney representing the plaintiffs, Jason Flores-Williams, the ruling is historic: It was made on civil-rights grounds, and the certified class covers every single person who finds themselves experiencing homelessness in Denver — at latest count, 3,600 in Denver County, according to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative.

"By granting class certification, the federal court recognized that the City of Denver has a policy focused on homeless persons," says Flores-Williams. "[It's] a policy that many believe to be an immoral, unjust and unconstitutional war on the poor."

The lawsuit against Denver alleges that the city has violated the Constitution when it's conducted homeless sweeps, including violating the Fourth Amendment's protections against unlawful searches and seizures.

Prior to class certification being granted on Thursday, the case had a number of hearings and had recently seen developments in April when documents turned over to Flores-Williams during the discovery phase of the case revealed that city employees had trashed people's belongings during a sweep that occurred in July 2016.

"This is a huge win," says Flores-Williams about the class-certification ruling.

Westword reached out to the city and received the following statement from the Denver City Attorney's Office late Thursday afternoon:

“The City and County of Denver spends nearly $50 million a year on direct and indirect homeless services. In the last several years, the City has increased direct services, including overnight and day shelter services as well as increased access to housing for all people. Our focus is on connecting people who are on the streets to the individualized assistance needed to help them stabilize their lives and move forward. The City's practice is to first try and connect people to services and treatment, and if that doesn't work, people are given notice, usually multiple times, before any enforcement action is taken. These are complex challenges and we strive to be as compassionate as possible while also ensuring safety and public health for all Denver residents.

Today’s ruling had nothing to do with the merits of the Plaintiffs’ claims, which the City has shown to be unsupported. The City remains confident in its legal position in the case, that its clean-up efforts were consistent with due process, and that it will eventually prevail on the merits.”

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.