Advocates decry homeless sweeps ahead of MLB’s All-Star game

Jul 11, 2021, 10:44 AM | Updated: Jul 12, 2021, 3:47 pm
A tent put up by homeless individuals sits on a sidewalk Thursday, July 8, 2021, one block east of ...

A tent put up by homeless individuals sits on a sidewalk Thursday, July 8, 2021, one block east of the Colorado Convention Center, the site of a major League Baseball promotion to mark the playing of the All Star Game in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Ahead of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Denver this week, city officials are facing scrutiny from advocates who accuse them of accelerating the clearing of homeless encampments near Coors Field as the sports world turns its attention to Colorado’s capital city.

Mayor Michael Hancock has emphatically denied that the All-Star Game influenced any clearing decisions, saying the city is just getting caught up after suspending cleanups at the beginning of the pandemic. It resumed regular cleanups last summer.

Officials knew before the city was chosen as the All-Star host that it faced a big cleanup effort, with more encampments than ever, Hancock said.

In cleanups, also called homeless “sweeps,” encampments are fenced off and the people living in tents there are told to pack up and leave so the area can be cleaned.

In March, just before Denver was chosen as a substitute host — Major League Baseball pulled it from Atlanta in April over objections to Georgia’s voting law that critics condemned as being too restrictive — data shows sweeps increased, with cleanups taking place over nine days. The previous peak over the past year was eight days, in October.

But the sweeps picked up even more in May and June with 17 scheduled cleanups taking 22 days, 11 days each month with two or three days of cleanups a week, according to public records obtained by The Associated Press, which were first reported by Denverite, an online news outlet that covers the city.

The city conducted sweeps for 17 weeks straight from early March to late June, a streak that was unmatched during any other period, according to cleanup notices provided to city councilors since December 2019.

The city used to conduct two or three cleanups a week before the pandemic began and has returned to that pace, said Evan Dreyer, Hancock’s deputy chief of staff.

The city’s position is misleading, said Ana Cornelius, an organizer for Denver Homeless Out Loud, who thinks the city has targeted its cleanups to push homeless people out before the All-Star Game. While the city used to clean up one encampment at a time, it has turned to multiday operations — targeting four or five encampments in a bigger area, dramatically increasing the number of people pushed out, she said.

People forced to leave an encampment near the stadium last week were told they could go to another one about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) away and would be safe there until August, she said.

Patrick Shields, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, was among the people forced to pick up and leave during a recent sweep on a grass strip outside an office building about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Coors Field. Shields, who has been on the street for eight months after being released from jail, was upset that he and residents he considered to be like family were being forced to move, when it would be cheaper to help them stay in one place.

“We have no hope, no direction because of situations like this,” he said.

The number of people without homes in the United States increased for the fourth straight year in 2020 based on a count conducted before the pandemic began, according to a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development annual report. And the housing crisis was only exacerbated by the pandemic when many lost jobs.

Downtown Denver looks vastly different compared to the middle of the pandemic in 2020. Tents used by homeless people that lined streets near closed restaurants and shops are now gone, with businesses reopened and pedestrians roaming the streets.

Coors Field is set to host the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

David Corsun, director of the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver, doesn’t know what role the game has played in Denver’s ongoing work on homelessness but said it’s common for cities to want to clean up and ensure visitors have positive experiences.

“Any time there’s a mass influx of people … it’s an opportunity to build brand and to create an impression: Denver is an amazing place to live and to visit,” Corsun said.


Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Cuban doctor shot to death at Mexico hospital

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Cuban doctor has been shot to death at a hospital in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Mexico City, prosecutors in the State of Mexico confirmed late Monday. The doctor, whose name was not provided, was killed Friday along with a nurse and another woman at a hospital in […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Switzerland, Uzbekistan sign deal on return of Karimova cash

BERLIN (AP) — Switzerland said Tuesday it has signed an agreement with Uzbekistan on the return of $131 million seized as part of a money-laundering investigation against the eldest daughter of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov. A government statement said the deal will see the funds seized from Swiss accounts belonging to Gulnara Karimova in […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Ezra Miller attends the 15th annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard ...
Associated Press

Ezra Miller seeks treatment for ‘mental health issues’

NEW YORK (AP) — After a string of arrests and erratic behavior that spanned Hawaii to Vermont, “Flash” actor Ezra Miller said they have begun treatment for “complex mental health issues.” The 29-year-old Miller, who identifies as non-binary, issued a statement late Monday. On Sept. 26, Miller is due to appear for arraignment in Vermont […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Environmental groups sue US over Puerto Rico dredging plan

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S government, accusing it of endangering wildlife and humans as it prepares to dredge and expand Puerto Rico’s biggest bay to accommodate massive tankers that will serve a new liquid natural gas terminal. The Arizona-based nonprofit said the […]
7 hours ago
FILE - The Chevrolet logo is displayed at the 2020 Pittsburgh International Auto Show Thursday, Feb...
Associated Press

GM recalls 484K big SUVs to fix problem third-row seat belts

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling more than 484,000 large SUVs in the U.S. to fix a problem that can cause the third-row seat belts to malfunction. The recall covers Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes, Cadillac Escalades and GMC Yukons from the 2021 and 2022 model years. The automaker says in documents posted Tuesday by […]
7 hours ago
This cover image released by Gallery Books shows "Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and ...
Associated Press

ESPN’s Stephen A Smith has memoir coming in January 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — Dallas Cowboy fans be warned: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has a memoir coming out next year. 13A, an imprint of Gallery Books, announced Tuesday that Smith’s “Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes” is scheduled for January 2023. According to 13A, Smith will share stories about growing up […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Advocates decry homeless sweeps ahead of MLB’s All-Star game