Denver police are sending a message to the homeless: you have nothing to fear from the Democratic National Convention. Denver police commander Deborah Dilley notes it will be a traumatic time for the homeless.
"We have never hid the homeless in the past, and we won't hide them now," said Dilley, who works in District 6, which includes downtown. "This is going to be a traumatic time for . . . them."
An effort is being made to bring the homeless into the convention and political process:
One man has loaned five flat-screen televisions for shelters so the homeless can watch the action live on cable television. An advocate is pushing for vouchers to movies, museums and the Denver Zoo so the population can enjoy the city's cultural scene for free. There are plans for a voter-registration drive. One of the city's ministries will run bingo games at night. "I think the city is saying the right things," said John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition of the Homeless. "The wild card is when the rubber meets the road -- when the Secret Service, the FBI and other federal agencies are putting pressure on the local police. I think there is some queasiness of people on the street."
Pan-handling is legal in Denver -- so long as it is not done too close to restaurants, bars, bus stops and ATMS. Sitting or lying on the ground during daytime in the Business Improvement District (Speer Boulevard to 20th Street and Wynkoop to Grant Street) is not.
Shelters are opening doors during the day so people -- particularly those agitated by large crowds and robust security presence -- have a place to go. ....Two police officers devoted to the city's homeless population will remain on those duties through the convention.