On Saturday, Oct 24th, about 70 Denver Police Department and Denver Sheriff’s Department officers, including swat units, under orders from Mayor Michael Hancock, descended on Sustainability Park and arrested 10 community members who, along with many others, were in the process of setting up a tiny home village to be occupied and managed by houseless people. The arrests, on charges of trespassing, were followed by the destruction and removal of several tiny homes which the group had constructed for houseless community members to live in. The group, led by Denver Homeless Out Loud and composed of houseless people and supporters, had been constructing tiny homes and trying to find a location for the village for over a year. But due to zoning and code constraints they have not been able to find a legal place to put the houses.
Contrary to reporting by Channel 9 News, this action and the establishment of Resurrection Village have nothing to do with Occupy Denver.
On Saturday, during a permaculture action day event, the group brought tiny homes that they had built or were in the process of building onto the Sustainability Park site. They announced their intentions to establish the tiny homes village, which they named Resurrection Village (after the similarly named tent city which Martin Luther King Jr’s Poor People’s Human Rights Campaign built in Washington DC to demand higher wages and access to decent housing). Among the goals which the group put forth in conducting this action were providing low-cost, safe and sustainable housing for members of the unhoused community, gaining the right to put up tiny homes in Denver, ending the criminalization of homelessness, and maintaining urban farms.
In explaining why they had chosen this site on which to establish the village, the group recounted how the Denver Housing Authority, which owns the property, has torn down hundreds of low income housing units, and after allowing the Urban Farming Cooperative to use the land for a few years, has agreed this year to sell the land to a private developer, who will build multifamily housing that will support gentrification in Curtis Park but be far beyond the reach of those for whom the Denver Housing Authority is supposed to exist.
In the afternoon, while constructing tiny homes on-site, the group was visited by a representative of Denver Housing Authority, as well as by the developer. By 9pm, with a police helicopter circling overhead, the officers made the arrests and Denver Public Works destroyed, threw into dump trucks, and carted away the homes that had been so badly needed by houseless people and so lovingly constructed by those who would have lived there and their supporters.
Arrested were Terese Howard, Benjamin Donlon, Karen Seed, Audrey Haynes, Andrew Tate Viviano, Raymond Lyall, Coby Wikselaar, Scott Hauck, Stephanie Marraro, and DJ Razee.
We will not give up! We will keep fighting to defend people’s right to housing. For the sake of the future residents of Resurrection Village and those who were arrested, we must all stand together now! Stay tuned for updates on this story and information about how you can support our next steps in this struggle!