Denver Closes Park Outside Capitol, Will Clean Up Homeless Encampment, Rat Infestation

DENVER (CBS4) – Workers with the City of Denver will be moving in to clean out a Denver homeless encampment in front of the Colorado State Capitol later on Wednesday morning. The encampment had been considered a health hazard partly due to a rat infestation and consisted of dozens of tents along Broadway and 14th Avenue in what is called Lincoln Park.

(credit: CBS)

Just after 8 a.m. on Wednesday police began roping off the park and were set to put up signs saying the area was closed due to the “imminent health hazard.”

The encampment expanded rapidly after a Denver County Court judge threw out a ticket for violation of the urban camping ban. The judge found that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution by amounting to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The city stopped enforcing the ban while it reviewed the ruling and its law. City Attorney Kristin Bronson told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger they were of the opinion that the law was usable while they appealed the judge’ decision.

The day before the city moved in, homeless people living in the city’s showplace center of government said they were there because there was nowhere else to go.

Because the city determined that there was an “imminent health hazard,” it felt it could move in to clean out the camp without having to give much advance notice. A recent settlement in federal court between the city and the homeless requires up to a week’s notice before such a cleanup occurs.

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