After dispatching mental health teams, instead of police officers, to certain 911 emergency calls, the city of Denver is proclaiming their pilot program a huge success—and expanding it significantly. Since June 2020, the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) has deployed medical and behavioral health clinicians to respond to over 2,200 low risk calls reporting trespassing, intoxication, or mental health crises involving poverty, homelessness or addiction. In all that time, STAR teams have never called for police back-up due to a safety issue, according to their January report. In January, the City Council unanimously allocated a $1.4 million contract for the STAR program’s expansion, paying for five additional white vans and hiring 7 clinicians, 4 paramedics, and two emergency medical technicians.
This facility is used during the day up until 9:00 p.m. as a warming shelter when the temperatures are dangerously low. However, with the night low expected to be 10 degrees Thursday into Friday, community members are taking matters into their own hands. “If the City will not open the Recreation Centers for this life or death need, we will just have to do it ourselves. We are here to keep this public Recreation Center open to the public so unhoused neighbors can stay here tonight to survive this weather.” With Denver’s homeless shelters full during the below freezing nights, people who are seeking a warm place indoors have no available options. The organizers of Thursday’s action point out in their press release that “the City has an existing contract with Bayaud Enterprises to run a pop up emergency shelter at Recreation Centers in extreme winter cold,” but that they never used it.
Denver, CO – Under the hardline stance of Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver continues to sweep unhoused encampments—more than 80 this year alone—ignoring countless requests from unhoused residents and their advocates to stop, and refusing to negotiate any alternatives. Outside the Four Winds American Indian Council building in the Baker neighborhood, that cycle continued when, despite multiple attempts by Four Winds and other advocates to find some common ground and a different solution, the city swept a predominantly Indigenous encampment on August 31. “It’s kind of unfortunate that the Mayor decided that he’s going to say that [the encampment] is unsafe and unclean without even being here, without even visiting and seeing it first-hand and being willing to sit down with our relatives and hear their stories and even break bread with them or anything like that.”
Colorado - A five-year evaluation of Denver’s Social Impact Bond (SIB) program by The Urban Institute found the housing first initiative is a “remarkable success” at reducing chronic homelessness. In all, the study found that 79 percent of people who received treatment under the program were engaged in stable housing. Those referred to SIB spent an average of 560 more days in housing than people who received other community assistance. Overall, the study analyzed the cases of 724 program participants. After one year, 86 percent of people remained in stable housing. After two years, the number stood at 81 percent. And, after three years, over 77 percent of participants remained housed. The program—one of the first in the country—also reduced shelter visits and police contacts for participants.
Denver — The Center on Colax confirmed Tuesday police will not be allowed to participate in the 2021 Denver PrideFest parade or as exhibitors. The Center, who hosts PrideFest, released the following statement regarding their decision: “The Center was founded 45 years ago in response to police violence and harassment of the LGBTQ community. The entire history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement is rooted in a history of opposing police harassment and violence aimed at our community. There are numerous examples of police violence going back beyond the famous Stonewall Riots of 1969. For all these decades, The Center has worked to address these issues and improve the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the police and we have made great strides. However we cannot in good conscience, as an organization that speaks up for justice, look the other way when it comes to police violence aimed at the Black community—a history of violence that goes back even further in American history.
People all over the country are learning about the explosive new report just out in Aurora, CO which concluded that the Aurora Police’s entire encounter with Elijah McClain which ended in his death was unjustified. What is not being talked about in most media coverage is that the organizers who led the massive peaceful protests which forced this report to be commissioned are still facing as many as 48 years in prison. The city of Aurora commissioned the independent investigation that produced the report on July 20, 2020 under the pressure of massive peaceful protests demanding accountability for the murder of Elijah McClain. Peaceful protests of unprecedented scale swept Aurora on June 27, July 3, and July 12.
Three organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) – Lillian House, Eliza Lucero and Joel Northam – who were arrested on trumped up charges in connection with anti-racist protests in the US State of Colorado were released on Thursday, September 24. They were arrested last Thursday in Denver and spent a week in jail in unsafe and inhumane conditions and were denied their right to due process. One of their fellow organizers, Russel Ruch, was released earlier. On Thursday, the judiciary in Colorado set the bonds of the three activists which once paid means that they can no longer be held in preventive detention.
Something new is in the air… angry, militant, controlled, politically savvy and anti-war to its very core. Unafraid. I would not be surprised if the tone is any different anywhere else in the country. It probably helps that the maniac/moron/gangster Trump is the President. They knew of what they spoke… bipartisan treachery, the lies being fed by the media like in 2003 before the Iraq invasion… the very rapacious nature of U.S. Middle East policy…and a genuine sympathy towards the Iranian people for the loss of their extraordinarily talented military leader, Qassim Suleimani. Main points were 1. nothing can justify a war against Iran 2. the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Iraq.. 3. How Trump announced a troop pullout from Syria at the same time there is actually a 14,000 troop build up through the Middle East. These were the themes that dominated both the speeches, banners and posters.
Former superintendent of Denver Public Schools Michael Bennet pushed privatization measures as well as changes to the ProComp teacher pay program. “I definitely drank the education reform kool-aid,” recalls Alex Nelson, a Denver teacher who, along with over 5,300 fellow teachers and school support staff, walked off the job earlier this month in a four-day strike that resulted in the teachers having most of their demands met. Now in his sixth year at Denver Public Schools, Nelson is at Bryant-Webster Elementary where he teaches Math, Science, and Spanish to third- and fourth-grade students.
Denver teachers were on the picket lines Wednesday for the third day, but the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) and the school district are moving quickly to reach a deal to end the strike. A joint statement released Wednesday night by DCTA President Henry Roman and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said, “We exchanged proposals that are moving us closer and are hopeful that we will get to an agreement soon. However, we need a little more time to resolve the outstanding issues, and we will resume our negotiations tomorrow morning at 10 am at the Denver Public Central Library.”
DENVER (AP) — Striking teachers picketed outside of schools and marched through Denver’s streets Monday as car horns blared in support of the latest U.S. walkout amid a swell of educator activism in at least a half-dozen states over the last year. Just over half of the 4,725 teachers called in absent for Denver’s first strike in 25 years. Some students crossed picket lines to get to class as schools remained open with administrators and substitute teachers. In one school, students danced and chanted in the hallways as they walked out to demonstrate to support their teachers. Other students joined hundreds of teachers and union members in a march past City Hall.
Who will pay for a 5 percent raise, smaller classes, and more nurses, librarians, and counselors for the Chicago public schools? “Rich people,” Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Gates told the press. Their contract expires in June. Meanwhile, fresh off the first charter school strike in history, the union set a February 5 strike date at another Chicago charter network. Five hundred CTU members in the Acero charter network struck for a week in December, winning smaller classes and salary increases that align them with their counterparts in the Chicago Public Schools. Four schools in the Chicago International Charter School network could be next.
By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet - The ALEC meeting comes just a week after the education secretary's talks with men's rights activists. Hundreds of protesters descended on the Colorado Statehouse on Wednesday, one day ahead of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' speech at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Denver. The meeting comes just a week after the education secretary's controversial talks on Title IX guidelines with so-called men's rights activists and other skeptics of the federal law that has consistently protected victims of campus sexual assault. “My primary concern is DeVos’ commitment to protecting sexual assault perpetrators and those accused of sexual assault,” University of Denver doctoral student Alicia Mountain told the Denver Post at the rally. Meanwhile, Suzanne Ethredge, president of the local teacher's union, remained wary of the secretary's long-term preference for school choice.
By Chris Steele for Popular Resistance. Denver Black Lives Matter protest July 2016. Photo by Chris Steele. Protesters block Lincoln Street in front of Colorado State Capitol. Photo by Chris Steele. At least a dozen protesters have been camped out in front of the Denver City and County Building Since July 7, 2016. Along with the camp out, on July 7, an estimated 200 protesters took to the streets of downtown Denver shutting down intersections in a solidarity rally with Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter 5280 (BLM) says they will be camped out in front of the Denver and City County Building for 135 hours, one for each African American killed by police this year, which is now up to 138 since their statement.
By Chris Steele for Truthout - Homelessness in Denver has grown 600 percent in the last 20 years, while the amount of emergency shelter beds has been stagnant. In October 2015, Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) occupied space at Sustainability Park and, financed through online donations, began constructing tiny homes for those experiencing homelessness. The group named the site Resurrection Village, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign, which culminated in 1968 after King was assassinated.