Denver, CO

Public speakers blast homeless sweeps, electric push in Denver

David Heitz
"V." addresses the Denver City Council about encampment sweeps in freezing temperatures.Photo byDenver 8/City and County of Denver

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Several people asked the City Council again Monday to halt homeless sweeps in freezing temperatures.

A speaker who identified themselves as V. said, “we have hundreds of people in the streets that are experiencing freezing sweeps on the regular.”

V. said she spoke to people who the sweeps displaced this week. Police showed up and roused the campers from sleep at 6 a.m., she said. They rushed them to move along, V. said, and campers struggled to pully dollies, suitcases on wheels and other equipment in the snow.

V. said a camper went to St. Francis Center to check his mail and when he returned his tent was gone. He also lost his identification and a new coat, hat and gloves that recently had been donated to him. He said he had nothing before the sweeps, according to V., and “ended up with less than anything.” V. said when important items like identification and other documents get thrown away, “You have to apply for all of those things all over again.”

V. and others made their remarks during general public comment session. Keith Barhams said his encampment has been swept many times. He said he has nowhere to go when it occurs. “Shelters are kicking us out for different reasons for months at a time.”
Keith Barhams explains to the Denver City Council that homeless shelters throw people out for months at a time.Photo byDenver 8/City and County of Denver

Council ‘not qualified’ to discuss homelessness

Brandy Majors said a friend of hers recently was swept from a property where she had permission to camp. It occurred as she went to St. Francis Center to take a shower, Majors said.

She told the council to stop talking about homelessness solutions. She said none of them are qualified to discuss it because they never have been homeless. She plugged her friend Jesse Parris, a write-in candidate for mayor who has experienced homelessness.

Parris also spoke Monday. “You go out of your way to house migrants, we can open up our doors to that, but we cannot house, clothe, shelter, and feed the people who have been here for generations. That is shameful, Denver.”

The city spends about a quarter of a billion dollars annually on housing and homeless services.

Electricity ‘unreliable,’ resident says

Diane Thiel spoke to the council about the push for electric appliances and cars. She asked the council, “Have we put our brains into the cupboard?”
Diane Thiel addresses the Denver City Council about the push for electric appliances and cars.Photo byDenver 8/City and County of Denver

“The electric grid has proven to be fragile, old and infirm and subject to all kinds of outages,” Thiel said. She said power poles and power lines burn up in fires, blow over in “our new 100 mph windstorms” and fall during heavy snows.

She said it can take days, weeks or even months to restore power after a disaster. “Instead, the gas lines are buried 16 inches beneath the ground.”

Thiel said “low-income seniors would be at risk for freezing in the dark” if the power goes out in an all-electric apartment. She said the electric grid already is overloaded in many places which is why some cities require the charging of electric cars only on off-demand hours.

“Don’t let government take away survival,” Thiel said.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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