Headlines July 29, 2020

Headlines July 29, 2020

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Advocates for those experiencing homelessness are criticizing an early morning sweep of a homeless encampment near the state Capitol in Denver this morning.

The Denver Post reports that police began assembling at Lincoln Park around 6:30 a.m. Denver public health officials cited health and safety concerns as the reason for the sweep.

Terese Howard, an advocate with Denver Homeless Out Loud said that about 200 residents of the camp were cleared out without any notice and now have nowhere to go.

The Denverite reports that city workers piled tents, blankets and other belongings and trash into trucks.

Earlier this week in his state of the city address Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the size and number of homeless camps have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic but that they can’t persist.

Hancock has been criticized for his handling of homelessness in the city particularly the ongoing sweeps of camps. The mayor has defended the sweeps saying they are designed to get people off the streets and into shelters.

The ongoing sweeps in the city go against advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which says such actions could spread COVID-19, unless safe housing is available.

The temporary homeless shelter at the National Western Center will close in mid-August. That shelter has been housing over 600 men on most nights, many but not all of them will be able to stay at the Denver Coliseum, which is currently an all-women shelter. Westword reports that the women who have been staying at the Denver Coliseum are being linked up with other shelter options in the city, including motel rooms.

The city is currently looking for a site for a temporary outdoor camp area for those experiencing homelessness.

Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson was taken to a hospital Wednesday after he was injured during a protest at this morning’s sweep.

Anderson told the Denver Post that Denver police pushed him to the ground. Videos taken at the scene and posted on social media show Anderson in the middle of a group that was challenging police outside the camp in Lincoln Park.

Denver Public schools announced today that it will delay in-person teaching until at least mid-October for most students.

The Denver Post reports that most of the district’s 93,000 students will take classes virtually through at least Oct. 16.

DPS had previously committed to full-time in-person instruction.

Independent music and concert venues across Colorado are coming together today to raise awareness about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their industry.

Christian Hee, senior marketing manager at Z2 Entertainment which books venues like the Fox Theater and the Boulder Theater, says thousands are people are impacted, from marketing personnel, managerial staff, to bartenders, security, and production staff.

Hee says that while many artists have the opportunity to live stream and to make money that way, day to day venue staff don’t have that opportunity, “and they are stuck without an income and not knowing when they can come back,” she says.

Wednesday, July 29 is a day of action to raise awareness of the impact on venues, particularly smaller independent venues. The Save our Stages campaign is asking people to contact their elected representatives to ask them to support two pieces of legislation that would help the industry.

The RESTART Act introduced by Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado and the Save Our Stages Act would help independent venues across the nation during the coronavirus shutdown.

According to the Save our Stages campaign, without support from Congress, 90% of independent venues across the country will be forced to close their doors forever.

 

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As Congress is debating the next federal aid package due to the surge of COVID-19 infections, Colorado Governor Jared Polis laid out his key demands for the new legislation.

Yesterday, the governor urged Congress to deliver uninterrupted benefits for the growing ranks of people without jobs. He also wants cash support for virus testing and contact tracing along with billions of dollars to backfill long-term losses in state and local government budgets.

The Associated Press reports the governor warned of dire consequences to the economic welfare of millions of Coloradans and to the state’s ability to contain the pandemic in a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation.

In reaction to a rodeo event in Weld County over the weekend where masks and social distancing were not required, Governor Polis said people who attend large gatherings put themselves and their families at risk comparing it to drunk driving. He called on Coloradoans not to be stupid.

Colorado Politics reports that the governor also responded to efforts by state Republican lawmakers who are calling for a special session on education. The GOP proposal suggests diverting public education dollars to parents so they could work from home and conduct in-home learning.

The governor said a special session is not an option – in part because Republicans never discussed the plan with the majority Democratic Party.

Health officials are conducting random testing at homes in Denver for COVID-19 antibodies. The effort is a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Colorado and Denver Departments of Public Health and Environment.

9News reports that people who choose to participate will be asked to answer survey questions and provide a blood sample to test for the virus.

Testing teams will be identifiable by their CDC vests and badges, and will never ask for social security numbers, financial information or citizenship status.

After more than a decade, Boulder’s government leaders may be giving up on having a municipally managed, community-owned electric utility. But voters will still have the final say.

At last night’s meeting, Boulder City Council reviewed a settlement proposal with Xcel Energy. Back in 2010, Boulder voters agreed to sever the Xcel relationship in favor of a city-owned electric utility in order to reduce greenhouse gas and address climate change.

However, Xcel has relentlessly fought the city through the courts and recently promised to deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.

After spending more than 25 million in taxpayer dollars, the city now says it has come to a settlement agreement to enter into a new franchise agreement with Xcel. To seal the deal, the council would likely refer it to the November ballot at a meeting next month and would need the approval of a majority of voters.

The distrust of law enforcement by anti-police activists has been reinforced by recent events in Aurora. The alleged shooter at a protest last weekend has been arrested, but no arrest has been made of the driver of a vehicle that sped into a crowd of demonstrators.

On Saturday, protesters of the killing of Elijah McClain, walked on I-225, and a Jeep surged into them without hitting anyone. One protester pulled out a gun and fired aiming at the Jeep but instead struck two protesters.
 
The Denver Post reports that 23-year-old Samuel Young, of Wheat Ridge, called Aurora police and identified himself as the person of interest in the case. He was arrested Monday night for investigation of four counts of attempted homicide.

The Aurora Police say they are still investigating the driver of the Jeep, whom they have identified.

Protesters are hesitant to cooperate with that investigation, and some of the protesters say the message is that the police aren’t on their side and they need to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, the protesters who were on the interstate are already planning new events, with one rally scheduled for Saturday in Greenwood Village.

Young is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

In more news related to the killing of McClain, yesterday the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced it has launched a new investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

A spokesman for the state health department confirmed in an email to the Denver Post that officials last month received new information regarding the sedative paramedics injected into McClain after police officers detained him.

CDPHE has received numerous complaints about the administration of ketamine.  Despite Aurora Mayor Michael Coffman’s calls to reconsider using the drug, it remains part of the department’s adopted protocols.

Both Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and the FBI are also looking into McClain’s death.

The City of Denver is working to identify a better location for those experiencing homelessness. A couple of weeks ago, the city announced its plans to use the parking lot outside the Denver Coliseum, but that has changed.

Denver7 reports that the proposal to place the site in the Globeville/Elyria-Swansea neighborhood was met with backlash from those who say it was not fair. Many residents of the area spoke to Denver City Council Monday night to make their voices heard.

A spokesman for the city said they are now working with Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca to identify a new site in her district for sanctioned campsites for the homeless.