Homeless Rights Activist Avoids Jail Time for Attempting to Sleep at Denver City and County Building

Terese Howard, founding member of Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL), a homeless rights group, received 12 months of probation and 30 days of community service in Denver County court on Thursday for probation violation when she was convicted for violating Denver’s urban camping ban.  Howard had earlier been convicted of trespassing for a community action that involved the construction of a tiny home village, Resurrection Village, that was erected on public land.

On April 4 and 5, 2017, Howard, Jerry Burton, and Randy Russell were tried together and convicted for violating the controversial camping ban that was narrowly approved by Denver City Council in 2012.  Previously the three attempted to spend the night November 28, 2016 in front of Denver’s City and County Building next to the Christmas manger scene where others who were seeking shelter referred to the Biblical Mary and Joseph who were also seeking shelter as depicted in the installation in front of the building.

In court, Howard told Denver County Judge Clarisse Gonzales in front of a packed courtroom of supporters that while she technically violated her probation, she questioned whether the laws should exist in the first place.  See video below:

Howard added that the work of DHOL would continue including the continued attempt to repeal Denver’s urban camping ban, as well as legislative changes at the state level.

Represented by the civil rights legal firm Killmer, Lane, and Newman, attorney Andrew McNulty appeared with Howard and referred Judge Gonzales to the August 22 ruling by a federal judge regarding a similar camping ban in Houston, Texas.    McNulty said that the judge found Houston’s ban, “Suspect, and enjoined the law from being enforced.  I think it puts Denver on notice that there are not only moral problems with the camping ban, but constitutional problems as well.”


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