City of Denver sued in federal court over homeless sweeps

September 09, 2016 / Posted in Condos

A motion for class-action certification was filed Friday by several homeless people against Denver, claiming that sweeps in which their personal property is summarily destroyed violate their Constitutional rights.

Attorney Jason Flores-Williams filed the lawsuit in Denver U.S. District Court on behalf of nine homeless men and a woman living in Denver.

“Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights hinge on class certification and it is therefore the superior treatment. It is their only means of challenging the policies, practices and conduct of a city and defendants that, in the end, would just like them to go away,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says that Denver officials have been illegally seizing and summarily destroying the property of homeless people in city-wide sweeps.

When the possessions of homeless people are taken, city officials do not tell them whether they can retrieve them. Their property is indiscriminately thrown into dump trucks, the lawsuit says. Authorities have taken their driver’s licenses, which resulted in many of them being jailed for days because they had no way to prove who they are.

Tents, radios, small televisions, bicycles, tools, family photos, clothing, medications and military records have also been confiscated, the lawsuit says.

“This property is all that these people have for survival and to remind them of their families, their humanity, their lives,” it says.

The lawsuit was supported by a group calling itself Denver Homeless Out Loud.

“This class action lawsuit represents the cry of thousands of homeless people in Denver to respect our rights,” the group said in a Friday news release. “We will not remain silent — we will not be hidden and swept ‘away…’”

View the court documents: