Viral Video on @DoBetterDNVR Leads to Harassment of Young Mom | Westword

Viral Video of Baby Crawling Near Street Leads to Harassment of Young Mother

"There's nobody actually trying to help anybody. It's just, 'Oh look at these homeless people.'"
More than 116,000 people have watched the @DoBetterDNVR video of a baby crawling toward a Denver street.
More than 116,000 people have watched the @DoBetterDNVR video of a baby crawling toward a Denver street. @DoBetterDNVR
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A video posted on the popular Instagram page @DoBetterDNVR last month showing a woman letting her baby crawl around on a Denver sidewalk while she and two men smoke a THC "dab" pen nearby is still making waves. According to the woman in the video, she's been harassed and threatened on social media to the point where she's now leaving Colorado after allegedly being evicted from her apartment.

"They're accusing me of doing drugs, literally telling me to go fucking kill myself and to leave my child in a safety deposit box," the woman, who goes by Luna, tells Westword. "I'm being evicted due to the drug addict allegations. I'm going to Missouri. I have my aunt out there, and she works with social services."

Luna, 24, confirmed her full legal name prior to speaking with Westword, but asked if she could go by her nickname for safety reasons. Luna's identity was confirmed by a staffer with the Downtown Denver Partnership who knows her through outreach work.

Luna says her baby, "Ducky," is ten months old, and his father is currently in New Orleans; she and Ducky will be taking a Greyhound out of Colorado later this week, she says.

According to Luna, her ex-boyfriend had been letting her stay at his apartment when he found out about the @DoBetterDNVR video and the public's response.

The footage was posted on April 18 on Instagram and X and is one of the account's most-watched clips on Instagram, at over 116,000 views.
"This is a real baby crawling on the #denver sidewalk while people seemingly use drugs," wrote @DoBetterDNVR. "Extremely concerning and alarming."

Denver Police officials tell Westword that authorities were called about Luna and Ducky on April 17 at around 3:21 p.m. and 4:51 p.m. that day. "Officers tried to locate the child and other individuals, but they were not located," says DPD spokesperson Jay Casillas.

Accusations and comments on the @DoBetterDNVR post and from people online range from Luna being homeless and living on the streets with her baby to Luna allegedly begging for money and doing hard drugs out in the open with strangers and friends while Ducky crawls around nearby. Several people reached out to her in direct messages and privately harassed her. In screenshots of messages shared with Westword, strangers tell her things like "you are a disgusting human" and "I hope they take that child from you."
click to enlarge A message from a person on Instagram.
Threats and harassment toward Luna have mostly come from strangers on social media.

Luna says no threats have come from @DoBetterDNVR directly, but from people who follow the page or saw her post.

She wishes the account holder and person who shot the video would have tried to get in touch before posting a video of her and her child online claiming she was on "drugs" without specifying what kind. That's where Luna's anger lies, she says.

"[People tell me] that they're going to beat me up, take my child, kill me, say I should kill myself, jump off a bridge," Luna claims. "The ones that are the most worrisome are the kidnapping threats. People like @DoBetterDNVR need to realize life isn't a game, and people get affected by what others bring up. Whether it be true or false, there's a right and a wrong way to do things. In this case, there was a child in question. It's better to have facts from the people that are being questioned about. If you don't know, ask if you can find out or help."

The @DoBetterDNVR page on Instagram has gone viral over the past year and a half — growing from 3,000 followers to nearly 60,000 in a matter of months — by posting information and videos related to Denver's homelessness crisis. The Instagram account and X account were initially ran by two separate women, but @DoBetterDNVR's IG account holder confirms that she now runs both.

The Instagram page has been criticized as being "anti-homeless," "inaccurate" and "irresponsible" by local media members and public officials, including the Denver Mayor's Office.

"There are many trusted forms of news sources in our city we rely on to share pertinent information about our administration’s efforts," Jordan Fuja, Mayor Mike Johnston's press secretary, said in February. "We do not include a nameless Instagram account to be a source of truth. It is apparent in the posts with inaccurate information this account irresponsibly shares to their many followers."

Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, believes @DoBetterDNVR has done more harm than good.

"I think we’re really disappointed in the content they put out because it perpetuates stereotypes and the stigmatization of people experiencing homelessness," she said earlier this year. "We are also disappointed that they don’t offer solutions or highlight the effective programs that have helped many members of our unhoused community obtain housing and the services they need to remain housed. I’d suggest that 'do better Denver' could do better itself by being more thoughtful and solutions-oriented."

Luna tells Westword that people's comments on the @DoBetterDNVR page and in her inbox played a pivotal role in her decision to move out of Colorado with her child.
click to enlarge A woman holding a baby and smiling.
Luna says people have been messaging her threats and harassing her over the @DoBetterDNVR video.

"The idea that someone could just take off with him was too much for me," she says.

While users have called her out in the comments for a variety of things, one of the accusations Luna takes issue with is that she was not watching Ducky. Specifically, people were taken aback by how Ducky was able to crawl away from Luna toward a street for a brief moment, with many accusing her of being on drugs and not paying attention to her child as a result.

"None of it is true," she insists. "If there are drugs that they've seen me do, it's probably a marijuana pen every once in a while to keep my mental state right. We smoke weed; I smoke weed for my mental deficits. I have a medical card for it. If you look at the video, he's hitting a marijuana pen. He's also blind."

Luna tells Westword that she was attempting to fix a karaoke machine when her baby crawled away from her during the video, which she was planning to let people use as they passed by.

"If you look closely, you'll see I was fiddling with the freakin' echo," Luna says. "As soon as [Ducky] leaned forward, you see my head turn towards him and I look back real quick. He starts moving and I look for him again, and then I get up and go get him."

Asked about why she had a sign on her stroller in the video, Luna says: "Whenever we couldn't make money to survive, like on Fridays and Saturdays — especially when I had my dog — we would have a sign that says, 'One love' or 'Smile, you're beautiful' or something like that. Never directly asking for anything."

Speaking through emails, the person who runs @DoBetterDNVR account — who has also asked to speak under the condition of anonymity — says it wasn't her "intention" to rile people up and get folks upset with Luna.

"It's very concerning that she is receiving threats," says the @DoBetterDNVR founder. "It was certainly not my intention to have this happen. I have always been very clear on my page that I do not condone violence."

But while the account holder sympathizes with the young mom, she says she isn't buying much of Luna's story, even going so far as to call the young mother out repeatedly in statements to Westword.

"I'm not sure why Luna would be getting evicted from her current residence because of the video I posted," the account holder says. "It's definitely convenient to be able to blame someone/something for your problems, though."

Questioning her story further, @DoBetterDNVR asks: "Why is Luna getting evicted if she was just 'doing karaoke' while barefoot with a cardboard sign on her baby's stroller for 'well wishes'? That doesn't make sense to me."

The account holder tells Westword that she would apologize to Luna for the threats she's received if she could speak to her, but wouldn't change a thing about her post.
click to enlarge A woman laying down with her baby and dog.
Luna, 24, says she is leaving Colorado due to threats and harassment since the video was posted.

"I do not think that the streets are an appropriate place for children (or anyone for that matter)," @DoBetterDNVR writes. "I also don't think that children should be exposed to 'people from the street' if they are active drug users."

To the account holder, smoking marijuana is the same as "using drugs," despite it being legal in Colorado. So she ultimately sees no problem with her drug accusation of Luna.

"Luna admitted they were hitting 'dabs' while doing karaoke," the person behind @DoBetterDNVR says. "What did we get wrong? A baby was crawling on the Denver sidewalk at 20th and Blake while the group 'seemingly used drugs.'"

Luna, a California native, admits she isn't perfect. "I'm homeless, but not helpless," she says.

Since giving birth to Ducky, Luna claims she has consistently had a roof over her head and received help from people she knows. But she doesn't have a place to call home, and her mother lives in Ogden, Utah, with her stepdad.

"I've been a freight hopper, a traveler, a hitchhiker," Luna says. "I would jump on freight trains. I would hitchhike around the country and stuff like that."

According to Luna, she became a drug addict at sixteen and had multiple miscarriages over the years, which made her appreciate life with Ducky.

"I really wanted those kids," Luna says. "But my body said no all three times. When I found out that I was pregnant, I was on the streets. I was in New Orleans, living in a tent on the side of the road. Immediately, I was like, 'All right, well, it's time to switch it up.'"

The @DoBetterDNVR account holder claims that the purpose of posting the video of Luna and Ducky was to show "the deterioration" of Denver. She has told Westword in the past that minors were off-limits when it comes to her posts, but for this one she chose to make an exception.

"My rule is related to showing pictures/videos of minors in camps & using drugs or showing their arrest records/etc," the account holder states. "The baby's face was also not identifiable in the videos."

The @DoBetterDNVR operator also posted Luna's IG handle in a follow-up post, identifying her as the mother in the video. She says it was public information and okay for her to do because Luna had already identified herself in IG comments on her post.

"My posting standard is that public information (like Instagram handles) are fair game," the woman behind @DoBetterDNVR argues. "I posted her Instagram handle (which is clearly not her real name) and the comments that SHE WROTE saying that she was the mother of the baby in the video. If Luna did not want to be known as the mother of the baby, why did she comment on @DoBetterDNVR that she was the mother of the baby?"

Luna claims that she didn't start getting threats and harassed by people until after @DoBetterDNVR identified her in two separate posts. She notes how many people who might have missed her comments on the first video could have been made aware of her identity through follow-up posts.

"I didn't expect her to make a post identifying me when I made those comments," Luna says. "She could have made a post asking people what they can do to help."

In the post identifying Luna's IG handle, @DoBetterDNVR writes: "Why are you letting him crawl on the dirty Denver sidewalks? Where are your shoes? Why is there a cardboard sign attached to baby's stroller? For the record, I did not film any of these videos. Good luck trying to 'sue me for stalking' — I am just trying to help."

In her statements to Westword, the @DoBetterDNVR account holder says that she tried to get Ducky help, but she didn't offer any resources or assistance in any of her social media posts. Four different videos were uploaded related to Luna and Ducky, with the account holder asking followers to "BOLO," or be on the lookout for the pair, and to call the cops if they see them, rather than offering to help or find out more about them.

"If you ever see something like this, call the police immediately," @DoBetterDNVR wrote in an April 18 post.

The @DoBetterDNVR account holder went on to post Luna's handle and an update on April 23, informing her followers that steps were being taken to get Luna reported to DPD and Child Protective Services, even though @DoBetterDNVR admittedly didn't know any specifics about Luna's situation.

click to enlarge A woman holding a baby.
Luna's baby, Ducky, is ten-months-old.
"I've now got the mother's full name and will be submitting a package of all the info, screenshots and videos I have to DPD/CPS," wrote @DoBetterDNVR in an April 23 post. "They are far more qualified to evaluate the situation than I am."

A Safe2Tell report was made by the account holder, and at least one report was filed with CPS by another person, according to @DoBetterDNVR, but CPS chose not to investigate. The agency did not respond to requests for comment.

"I have tried to get the baby help," @DoBetterDNVR insists. "The baby deserves a safe, clean and loving home and I (and half of Denver) were concerned that wasn't the case. ...I am not remotely qualified to evaluate whether Luna can provide a safe home for the baby, but at least I can say I reported to proper authorities to decide."

Luna feels that @DoBetterDNVR shouldn't have jumped to conclusions without doing a little bit of her own research first.

"If you're really that curious to know what's going on with someone's situation, instead of just being a troll — recording us without our knowledge, being a troll and posting it for views, essentially — then ask," she says. "[@DoBetterDNVR] is a perfect example. There's nobody actually trying to help anybody. It's just, 'Oh look at these homeless people.' What I would say is, read the situation. See what you can actually do to help; post about what people can do to help."

While @DoBetterDNVR doesn't think she did anything wrong, the account holder does regret seeing how viewers of the video treated Luna after it went viral.

"That was never my intention with the post and I can empathize with how scared she must have felt when receiving those," the account holder says. "It sounds like Luna has had a hard life. I would urge her to start making decisions that will improve her situation so that she can give her baby a better life than she had."

One of the biggest fears Luna has had during all this is CPS taking Ducky away as a result.

"I was in that situation when I was a child," Luna recalls, noting how her biological father was a drug addict and died when she was younger. Her mom had been living in Oregon, and Luna was staying with her dad when he passed, she says.

"I remember it vividly," she says. "CPS is the first place where I was sexually assaulted, physically abused, mentally abused — the whole nine yards. My foster care got both of my foster homes shut down for how they were treating the children that they were caring for."

Luna says she recognizes that most of the outrage toward her is out of @DoBetterDNVR's control, but she still feels the account holder is directly responsible for stirring the social media pot and prompting the threats and harassment she's experienced. She hopes that the person behind the page will learn from this experience and adjust how she handles similar ones.

"The account is dangerous," Luna says. "There's people commenting on the videos, like mine, saying homeless people are bad and that we should all just go kill ourselves off and shit. I had multiple people telling me, 'Let me catch you downtown. Let me catch you with your baby downtown.' This account, what it does, is put a target on people's backs. Not only are you posting videos of females and males in an extremely lonely place in their life, but you don't know anything about them or their situation. Your comments and posts put targets on our backs and there's vigilantes everywhere, dude. Even if it's not your intention, you're opening Pandora's box."
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