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Ray Lyall Denver homeless man loses home in legal battle over tiny houses


DENVER, COLORADO- Ray Lyall was among nine homeless rights advocates arrested last October trying to defend a row of Tiny House model homes they built on public land administrated by the Denver Housing Authority. All were accused of trespass and today was Ray’s day in court before a jury of not quite his peers. Though the jury perceived Ray’s act to be political and were shown the paradox facing the city’s homeless, they found in favor of DHA and its SWAT eviction team. Denver’s lack of sympathy for the homeless is shared by Denver residents serving jury duty. All of whom were conscripted through addresses, many of them gentrified.

Like his co-defendant DJ Razee, the first of Ray’s colleagues to take a stand in court, Ray was found guilty of trespass.

Instead of jail time Ray was sentenced to twelve months probation, forty hours of community service, and a protection order to stay clear of DHA stooge Ryan Tobin. Ray also has to write a letter of apology stating that he understands trespass is not an acceptable protest act. Most significant however is an area restriction. Ray can’t return to the area bordered by Arapahoe and Lawrence, 25th and 26th, the block where Denver Homeless Out Loud erected “Resurrection Village”.

If the tiny houses were demolished the night of the police raid, and the vacant lot has been locked ever since, what does Ray’s area restriction matter?

The where to which Ray cannot return is under the tree he and DHOL’s real-life homeless members have called home before and since, a tree along the sidewalk of the DHA property, outside the fence but now inside Ray’s area restriction, where Ray & co. never bothered anyone, though maybe they troubled Ryan Tobin’s view, which is what prompted the heartless crackdown in the first place.

Ryan Tobin is not just DHA’s manager, he owns a $650,000 gentrified home across the street from the restricted lot. While urban “housing authority” entities purport to supply all income residences, they profit by redistributing properties to developers and relocating low income communities to the lesser desirable areas.

Denver inaugurated Spring 2016 with homeless sweeps to clear the gentrified neighborhood of its street dwellers. Where police can’t harass for “encumbrances” to move homeless along, they prosecute with “trespass”.

Each of the DHOL defendants who’ve reached trial or have taken plea deals have been given the area restriction. Restricted from a fenced lot surounded by no trespass signs. The legal overkill recalls the army of police officers deployed to assault DHOL and their tiny homes.

Ray isn’t going to jail but now he really has nowhere to go. Ray was houseless, a distinction that’s not just a technicality. Now Ray is homeless.

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