Homeless Move Forward with Class Action Suit Against Denver Over Sweeps

Last week, we reported that a local lawyer was preparing a class action lawsuit against the City of Denver for violating the constitutional rights of the city's homeless population when conducting sweeps of homeless people, their encampments and their property. 

Today, the law office of Jason Flores-Williams made good on its word, filing a class action complaint with the United States District Court in the District of Colorado (see the entire document below).   

The filing lists nine plaintiffs to represent all relevant members of the city's homeless population. Among them are a few individuals whom Westword has interviewed during coverage of the sweeps, including Ray Lyall and Jerry Burton, who described what happened during the March 9 sweep of Resurrection Village, as well as Thomas Peterson, who was unable to reclaim his possessions at a downtown facility where the city kept confiscated items from the March sweeps before destroying them after sixty days.

Those named as defendants in the class action filing include: Mayor Michael Hancock, Police Chief Robert White, Denver Public Works Manager Jose Cornejo, Hancock Chief of Staff Evan Dreyer and District Six Police Commander Antonio Lopez. 

The filing goes on to make the case that in the process of the sweeps, the city has violated homeless individuals' constitutional rights as outlined in the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. 

When Westword reached out to the city for comment, Interim City Attorney Cristal DeHerrera responded, saying, "The City has not been served with a lawsuit by Denver Homeless Out Loud or Jason Flores-Williams. Once we receive the complaint, we will evaluate the claims and respond to them.”

Below, you can view the class action filing in its entirety, including the legal basis of its argument:

Homeless Class Action on Scribd

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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker