Homeless Sweeps: Large Police Crackdown on Individuals Along Platte River

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: Encampments near the site of the Denargo Market, along Arkins Court between Denargo and 31st streets, have been confirmed as dismantled. Brad Evans, founder of the Denver Cruiser Ride and Denver Fugly, sent Westword the following photo of the area where, as recently as 4:30 a.m. this morning, there were about a dozen unhoused individuals living in tents and trailers: 

Evans called at 3:30 p.m. from the scene, but says that he first drove by the spot at 11 a.m. this morning. 

Members of Denver Homeless Out Loud had also been at the scene until 4:30 a.m., anticipating that sweeps that began at Confluence Park could make their way over to the Arkins Court encampments. 

After contacting the Denver Police Department, Westword learned that officers were in the area around 6:30 a.m. and cited parking restrictions as a reason that those camping along the street had to move. According to Officer Ligea Craven, who was at the scene, the campers were offered information on homeless services available in Denver. Craven also says that no citations were given. 

Here is what the encampments used to look like:

See our slideshow of the encampment as it looked this past weekend here.


Beginning at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 13, police started arriving at Confluence Park at the intersection of 15th and Little Raven streets to enforce curfew rules that ban individuals from sleeping in Denver parks overnight. 

According to videos live-streamed from the Facebook page of Denver Homeless Out Loud, there were two arrests and ten tickets issued to individuals in the park and along the South Platte. One of the arrests was for an outstanding warrant. The tickets were issued on the grounds that their recipients violated park curfews. 

"The cops came up on us, first on two motorcycles, then in about ten to twelve cop cars," narrates a man who shot the videos. “This is a special group of cops – they’re hitting Cherry Creek and they’re hitting the [Platte] river really hard tonight.”

At the moment, it's unclear just how extensive the police operation was. (Updates will be posted on this story as Westword learns of them.)

Terese Howard of DHOL says that her organization is aware of encampments outside of Confluence Park, including one that a Westword photographer recently documented near the Denargo Market. As of 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Howard says, the encampments had not been hit. 

“We were worried about that and had people there until 4 a.m. The people staying there are mostly people who have been relocated after the [March] sweeps," says Howard. 

As for the operation at Confluence Park, DHOL was ready to live-stream DPD's actions because the organization received a tip from someone knowledgeable about police operations. 

According to the man who narrated the Facebook Live video: “There was a group of us that was out waiting for the police to come because we got a tip from a very reliable source that the sweeps were going to happen tonight. So we were going to film them and make sure they weren’t violating any rights."

Howard says that the ten tickets issued at the park were mostly to homeless individuals trying to sleep. One of the two men arrested also had his belongings left behind, which members of DHOL recovered before police or other city employees could discard them. 

Howard was also critical that the DPD used a massive police presence just to enforce laws against no more than a dozen homeless individuals. 

“There were shit-tons of cops just to ticket ten people,” she says. 

In a live video on Facebook, the narrator concludes, "It’s messed up. The cops are out there ticketing people just for sitting and sleeping in a park."
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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