Denver City Council held a hearing yesterday on a proposed new ordinance that would ban outdoor "camping" in unauthorized areas of Denver. Although no one associated with the city will actually say on the record what the ordinance is really about, everyone understands it's primarily aimed at trying to pre-empt an Occupy Denver resurgence.
Several sources within the city government have told the Peak their goal is to have this ordinance working its way onto the books before the weather prompts Occupiers to return, en masse, to Civic Center Park.
The national Occupy movement is making noise about their resurgence hope. Reports The New York Times:
The movement’s staying power will depend on the success of several events planned for the coming weeks. Despite recent actions that have fizzled, including an Occupy Corporations day in February, organizers are planning a strike and demonstrations on May 1, International Labor Day. But the response has been mixed, and activists now say that Americans could show sympathy for the cause in other ways, like not shopping that day.
Chris Longenecker, 24, a member of the group who is helping to organize the strike and protests in May, said the lull in attention over the past few months was due to the group’s focus on building up capacity for larger events.
“We are looking to late spring and summer,” he said. “We are reconnecting with our passive supporters who saw us lay more dormant in the winter. We have spent the vast majority of the winter laying roots across community organizations and labor and immigration.”
Denver faced several months of Occupy torment in the late summer and fall last year and even the lefties in the Denver city government realize the costs and negative press associated with an even more extended occupation this year would overwhelm the city. The sponsor of the ordinance, Councilman Albus Brooks, tried to couch the measure as one of compassion in his opening remarks today:
"It's inhumane to have people sleeping outside," said Brooks in his opening remarks before the council's Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure committee.
Those at the city know the highly contagious parasite could have infected a much larger population if it had started when the waves of Occupiers were sharing blankets and tents during the warmer months. If they are allowed to return for an even more extended period of time this year, the campers staying there for days without proper sanitation could create a critical health crisis.
City officials can couch this proposed ordinance however they think will be most politically expedient, but at the end of the day, Denver has been dealing with a homeless population for decades and this ordinance is now proposed because the Occupiers are here.