It Is Now Illegal To Be Homeless in Denver
Yesterday morning 100 police officers from several agencies dressed in crowd-control gear cleared a handful of “Occupy the Farm” participants from the previously unused plot of land where they were living, cultivating vegetables, and protecting wild turkey habitat. The land is owned by the University of California which decided it needs its land back for research purposes.
Watching the police over-respond to squats and guerrilla gardens like this provides such a clear illustration of their primary purpose as defenders of the property status quo. Organizing a society on the basis of title-property, so the rich can live at the expense of the propertyless, requires an immense amount of force and threat of violence (and actual violence against those courageous and honest enough to live in opposition).
Here in Denver the headline being syndicated across the county is that the civil unions bill was killed in a special legislative session. Because the “liberal” battle of the age is expanding the state privileges of marriage to a few more couples. Meanwhile Denver’s city council, specifically district 8 councilman Albus Brooks (pictured below) and eight other heartless or delusional politicians, criminalized being homeless in Denver. One of the most frustrating and disturbing trends during this ordeal was how Brooks and the other supporters of the ban refused to admit what the ban actually is (authoritarian greed aimed at our most vulnerable neighbors and at sterilizing our public spaces into purely consumptive spaces attractive to global capital) and insisted that the motivation was to help the homeless and improve the “health and safety” of the city.
It’s no secret that the primary advocates of banning the homeless from downtown are members of the Downtown Denver Partnership, a business improvement district similar to those which have passed similar legislation in cities all over the country. As Randall Amster put it when discussing the actions of Tempe’s BID, “with regard to economic concerns that the homeless are bad for business […] such concerns are inverted, and that, indeed, it is business that’s bad for the homeless.” Why do we have laws again? To protect vulnerable persons from the powerful? or the other way around?
One person commented on the Occupy the Farm raid that, “I don’t know what to say, other than fuck the police, their time will come, and the people will rise.” That sentiment is far more optimistic than I feel right now. I have no reason to think I won’t live my entire life under the rule of little authoritarians like Albus Brooks and the UC police departments, or that anything other than absentee-landlordship will be the economic norm in my lifetime. But I also know that if there is any meaning to life, it is not found in material equality alone. Indeed if it were then all of the honest people who lived before me lived meaningless lives. What was it God said to the successful farmer in that parable? ‘You fool! You’re going to die, and all you have are things.’ Something like that. As far as I can tell, all Albus Brooks and the business owners who control him have are their things. If there is any life to be found in this life, they would be better off freezing on the streets they insist on owning or sitting in their own jail cells.