Columnists, Denver, Featured, Gold Dome, Governor Polis, Jon Caldara, Politics, Uncategorized

Caldara: Tent city at Capitol complex is Governor Polis’ problem

Jared Polis is caught between a rock and an antifa place.

He has the full authority to clear the “homeless” encampment encroaching on our State Capitol but so far refuses to do so.

Instead he threw his progressive friend, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, under the bus.

July 15, 2020

If you haven’t driven through downtown Denver lately, you’re fortunate. You haven’t seen the carnage, vandalism, litter, vomit and fecal waste next to human bodies passed-out on sidewalks.

Polis and Hancock have surrendered our capital city to a mob. Tent encampments housing a mixture of the homeless, the drug-addicted and antifa protestors seem to be spreading faster than COVID.

It is turning our once beautiful city to crap, literally. We are in a race to match San Francisco and Seattle in urban decay. It is beyond ugly. It is unhygienic, dangerous and horrifically sad.

And it is inexcusable. It’s as inexcusable as letting rioters deface and vandalize the State Capitol every night for a month and a half with complete immunity.

When asked by 630 KHOW talk show host Ross Kaminsky about the tent cities popping up around the Capitol and the governor’s mansion, Polis responded, “Denver needs to do a better job on the homeless…I’m not an urban issues expert. That’s what mayors are for and city councils are for. But I’ve seen other cities handle this more effectively. But of course, Denver needs to step up and do more.”

Polis is correct on all counts, and it is refreshing to hear him admit he’s not an urban issues expert (and it’s worth remembering he said that by the way). And true enough, Denver has been bullied into not confronting antifa lawlessness and their bivouacs.

But the largest antifa campsite, the one right in front of the State Capitol, well, that’s all Polis. And as skilled as he is at dodging and misdirecting pointed questions, he must be held accountable for what is happening to the State Capitol complex.

The buck stops with him. And he’d win big points if he’d acknowledge that.

Denver’s Civic Center Park has been the hub of riots, tear gas, and violence, including recent antifa attack on a pro-police rally, which bloodied police-loving organizers while, bizarrely, police officers watched on and refused to engage to stop the violence. (Note the word “inexcusable” mentioned above.)

But the piece of Civic Center Park which hosts the largest tent encampment isn’t actually Civic Center Park at all. It’s not city property. It’s state property, under the ultimate management and protection of the governor and his Democrat-controlled legislature.

Lincoln Park is a block long, rectangular strip of (formerly) green lush grass. It is bounded by Broadway and Lincoln streets on the east and west, and Colfax and 14th avenues on the north and south. It lays just west of the Capitol. And while it looks like part of Civic Center Park, it is part of the State Capitol complex. It’s the state government’s job to protect it.

So, why is Lincoln Park home to the largest encampment in Denver?

July 15, 2020

State troopers patrol the Capitol grounds, but oddly they don’t have authority to press charges against law breakers. For that they have to call in the Denver police. While it looks like state troopers may finally be granted some arrest authority to do what the Denver cops refuse to, or are ordered not to do, it’s taken a month and a half to demand that simple power.

But Polis can’t hide behind Denver’s lack of leadership and refusal to enforce laws. If Polis can’t cajole, pressure or embarrass Denver to clear the park (and protect the people’s house, our Capitol), he has more than enough tools to do the job himself.

Jared Polis has the authority to call in the National Guard, which governors regularly do to assist in all type of emergencies from natural disasters to crime waves. In particular the Colorado National Guard has an entire battalion of military police centered at the Denver Armory.

MP’s, unlike regular soldiers, are trained as police. Under a Polis order they could clear Lincoln Park and secure the Capitol complex, keeping it free of tents. Then the governor’s complaint that it’s all the city’s problem might be valid.

Of course, this would require Polis to do something he won’t do — take on the law-enforcement-hating, antifa-supporting wing of his progressive team.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market thank tank in Denver.

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