Removal of Bus Shelters Another Facet in City’s War on the Poor

from Ignite! #2:

Some may have noticed the removal of several bus shelters on the Colfax and Broadway intersection. The stops, widely used by working class people and youth, service approximately 10,300 riders per weekday. The city removed them sometime in mid-August due to requests from law enforcement that the shelters were being used to traffic drugs, and that it was very difficult to watch these locations for drug activity on CCTV due to how they are built.

The timing is suspect: removing the shelters in a time when the heat is presumably supposed to die down but before harsh winter climates begin to move into the area. Car culture routinely makes issues for riders of public transportation seem small, but the reality in Denver is that thousands per day use public transit. Rain, sleet, snow, or hail people take buses and trains in this town.

The reasoning is spotty. Why punish riders of public transit for the service provider’s poor security or the police department’s ineptitude? That’s not even scratching the surface of why there are people selling narcotics in the first place.

Even more sinister is Denver cops’ blatant disdain for people down on their luck in the first place. An anonymous rank and file officer gave new mayor Michael Hancock a written suggestion obtained by local weekly Westword that they scale back humanitarian services to the homeless, as it is only encouraging more homeless people to migrate to the city. The unnamed officer goes on to say that he “won’t bring his family [to Denver] because of this filth.”

The whole area is widely known as a popular place for houseless people to sleep, especially when shelters are full and the weather is cold. In the last eighteen months, well over one hundred people forced by various social and economic conditions to sleep outdoors have died in the city of Denver. Removing these shelters is a cheap shot directed towards a humanitarian crisis in the region. To do something like this specifically to accommodate the vast surveillance system implemented by the State and sustained since the Democratic National Convention is frankly repugnant.

Unsurprisingly, the city of Denver once again applies a “band-aid solution” to a complex problem. This pattern of behavior is business as usual in a local government that panders to short-term boosts by fleeting stories in the corporate media, living and dying in an echo chamber of press conferences.

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