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As homeless defendants face camping charges, Denver courts lie to jurors.

DENVER, COLORADO- Trial began yesterday for three homeless activists charged with violating Denver's Unauthorized Camping Law. An ordinance enacted in 2012 partly as a coordinated response to Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country, partly to smooth the city's gentrification plans. Though six years old, the ordinance has escaped judicial scrutiny by DPD's careful avoidance of citing only homeless victims in no position to fight the charges in court. Deliberate civil disobedience attempts have been thwarted by the city bringing other charges in lieu of the "Urban Camping Ban" for which police threatened arrests. Thus Denver Homeless Out Loud's coup of at last dragging this sham into the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse has generated plenty of interest. I counted four print reporters and three municipal court judges in the audience! From a jury pool of forty, city prosecutors were able to reject the many who stated outright they could not condemn the homeless defendants for the mere act of trying to survive. At one point the jury selection process was stymied for an hour trying to fill one remaining alternate seat because each successive candidate would not "check their social values at the door." One potential juror, a hairdresser, became alarmed that all the sympathetic candidates would be purged and so she refused to say how she felt about the homeless. She was removed and they were. As usual jurors were told it was not their place to decide against enforcing bad law. Only those who agreed were allowed to stay. And of course that's a lie. The only way bad laws are struck down, besides an act of congress, a please reflect how that near impossibility has spawned its own idiom, is when good jurors search their conscience and stand up for defendants. For those who might have wanted to get out of jury duty, it was an easy day. Show some humanity, provoke authentic laughter of agreement by declaring "Ain't no way I'm convicting people for camping." The jury pool heard that Denver's definition of camping is "to dwell in place with ANY FORM OF SHELTER" which could be a tent, sleeping bag, blanket, even newspaper. Several jury candidates stated they had relatives who were homeless. Another suggested it would be an injustice to press charges such as these. "So this isn't a case for you" the city lawyer asked. "This isn't a case for anyone" the prospective juror exclaimed, to a wave of enthusiam from the jury pool and audience. Another prospect said she didn't think this case should be prosecuted. The city attorney then asked, "so you couldn't be fair?" "I am being fair" she answered. All of these juror prospects were eliminated. What remained of the jury pool were citizens who swear to uphold whatever law, however vile. One juror that remained even said she gives the benefit of the doubt to police officers. Not removed. But there is hope because they couldn't remove everyone. Of the six that remain, one juror agreed to follow the law, even if it was a law

Denver Homeless Out Loudest Ray Lyall

Here's a better picture of Denver Homeless Out Loud activist Ray Lyall and colleague, with the usual Denver protest entourage. Ray Lyall was found guilty of trespass last week, like his cohort DJ Razee before him. The two were among nine DHOL members arrested defending Tiny Houses on October 25, ten if you include a follow-up action, but Ray and DJ are the only cases to come to trial. Four more are scheduled soon: April 20, May 9 & 10, and June 1. You might well ask, what of the remaining four? They PLED GUILTY. It is customary not to condemn another's self-preservation needs, but let's be honest, taking the plea deal does hurt everybody. Pleading guilty implicates your co-defendants, validates the police probable cause, and sacrifices the opportunity for which arrest and detainment were the ante. Ray Lyall took his case to trial, compelled five police officers and a Denver Housing Authority to take the stand, opportuned an eloquent lawyer to speak about homelessness and the bigger picture, tied up a municipal courtroom profit center for two days, and was sentenced to peanuts: one year probation plus community service. Probation is essentially what's been on offer for plea deals, so Ray risked only being found not guilty. DJ's sentence admittedly was not peanuts, it included jail time. The judge declared she would rather have imposed probation, but DJ knew probation would hinder his options as a street activist. DJ stipulated jail so that afterward he'd be free to protest without the spector of a deferred sentence weighing upon him. Plea deals have shaped a lamentable pattern for Denver activists. Owing to inadequate legal representation or financial hardship, many political arrestees have been tempted by offers of deferred prosecution or deferred sentencing which have necessitated their abstention from further protest. Some who have continued to participate in demonstrations have been in the awkward position of encouraging others to do what they could no longer risk, perpetuating the cycle of arrests and plea deal emasculation. The Denver activist community has some serial plea dealers, who always take pleas and ensnare newbies with them every cycle. As a result, fresh activists become burned out and regular police oppression is emboldened. The irony of course is that the vast majority of Denver protest arrests have been violations of civil liberties. It will only stop when the police are challenged and sued. Obstruction, interference, failure to obey, resisting, trespass, disturbing the peace etc, are the habitual pretexts which Denver police have been using to curb street protest. Even the felony charge of assault of a police officer has been succesfully used to scare activists into taking pleas. Usually such "assaults" were simply collisions or confrontations where police officers were the actual assailants. Not everyone is in a position to fight their charges to the bitter end, but asserting the illegitimacy of political arrests is critical to bringing Denver police to heel. If you are going to plead guilty because you don't think you have the right to march in the

Denver jury convicts homeless man of trespassing on their yuppy lifestyle. DJ Razee’s tiny house idea was too big.

DENVER, COLORADO- In the witness stand Delbert "DJ" Razee spoke eloquently about the Tiny House movement and Resurrection Village, a local experiment sponsored by advocates Denver Homeless Out Loud to suggest one remedy for the house-less of Colorado. Razee's lawyer Frank Ingham made fools of the Denver Housing Authority stooge and four police officers who testified against the chronically homeless English Lit grad. Razee was charged with trespass on public land, on an empty city block which was supposed to have been used for affordable housing. Razee was among ten homeless activists arrested one night in November for refusing to vacate several very small structures they'd erected on property which the DHA was converting from a community garden to gentrified condos. After two days of trial, a jury of well-housed peers found Razee guilty, lest others of his untouchable caste darken their doorsteps or the vacant lots near them. On Thursday March 3rd at 8:30am DJ Razee reports to Judge Beth Faragher for sentencing. It was an amazing trial. While his compatriots sought continuances or plea deals, DJ held his ground and never waived speedy trial. DJ was impatient to put the Denver Housing Authority on the stand. Their representative Ryan Tobin blew off a February 3rd subpoena, but when DJ's lawyer Frank Ingham cross-examined Tobin on the 22nd, Tobin incriminated himself more than Razee. Ryan Tobin was the DHA goon who pressed charges against the activists for trespassing on the public lot opposite his $650K home. Tobin also sought a protection order against one of the activists, which restrained that person from approaching not just Tobin but the entire public lot. Can one do that? The protection order didn't come up at DJ's trial. DHA The DHA is a quasi-municipal entity which handles city property meant to accomodate lower income residents. The DHA is Denver's second largest property owner. The city blocks at 26th and Lawrence used to be low income housing but have been razed for years. More recently a portion was used for a community garden but the DHA was evicting the urban farmers to sell the block to a high rise developer. The logic offered was that DHA could use the proceeds of land speculation to build more affordable housing elsewhere. That strategy might impress business people but it's clearly absurd. Instead of being a counterbalance to gentrification, this housing authority thinks its role is to be a tool for displacement. Tobin's testimony will benefit all the Tiny House defendants, depending on their juries. DJ is only the first of the arrestees to be brought to trial. Tobin admitted he had never clearly expressed who had the authority to issue a trespass order. Tobin also couldn't say who precisely was present when he made his initial announcement to the group, although he claimed it was "everyone". This was a chief contention of the city attorneys. How about an sidebar for activists, as a sort of debrief: On Tobin's first visit, someone among the activists called EVERYONE together to listen to his announcement,

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