Absolutely it was a stunt. Maybe even a childish one. But I guarantee you it was born of anger, quite genuinely.
Last Monday, I again scooped the human excrement I often clean up from around my downtown office building, left along with the other trash from Denver’s finest homeless. But this time, in front of television cameras and reporters, I literally dropped it on the steps of Denver’s City Hall.
Why City Hall? Because the decisions made inside that building by city council members and mayors are the reasons this filth keeps piling up.
I’ve received angry phone calls from people saying my stunt was cruel, stigmatizing the homeless. I pointed out that they trespass on private property and defecate on it. It’s not fake news.
What I find cruel is since John Hickenlooper started rewarding vagrancy as Denver mayor, the victims of this homeless crisis — taxpayers, residents, workers and visitors — seem not to matter to our city and state leaders.
If our elected officials cared just one-tenth as much for the victims of the crimes caused by the mentally ill and drugged on the streets as they do providing services for them, our streets would be clean and safe.
The not-for-profit organization I run, Independence Institute, was founded in 1985 with a mission of promoting personal and economic liberty, and the responsibility that goes with it, in Colorado. To purchase a building within walking distance of the State Capitol was always a dream. When we made it happen more than a decade ago it transformed our work.
Like a homeowner’s first house is to them, this building is to us and our donors. It is a jewel to us, hopefully a point of pride to our neighbors and an outhouse, trashcan, opium den and crash-pad for drugged-out, casual criminals.
In the last several years we had to regularly clean up litter, trash bottles, used condoms, urine, vomit, used syringes and human feces from all around our private property. Our windows have been broken. The building has been broken into and vandalized.
On a regular basis we must chase people off our property — that is if we can wake them up.
These people party like rock stars and we have no choice but to clean up their mess at our expense. They trashed the hotel room, where we play both the maid and the hotel owner.
Call the police, you say? It’s hard to dust poop or vomit for fingerprints. And if somebody is trespassing and camped out on our property, they don’t arrest them. They tell the vagrant, “I’ll be back in 15 minutes and if you are still here, I’ll arrest you.” Neither cop nor vagrant is there 15 minutes later. But the needles, vomit and feces are.
The vagrants always come back. The police, well, not always.
We spend a fair amount of money to keep the building looking nice, money we cannot use on our mission.
We have landscaping and lawn work and beautiful trees. People walk their dogs by our property and often the dogs relieve themselves on our grass. Each and every time they do the dog’s owner picks up after them. How odd is it that dog owners care more about the city than the human beings who defecate on it?
There are trash cans just 20 feet away from where we clean up human feces. But the good people who leave their waste and needles and bottles feel no obligation to use those trash cans.
Is it time to pass a law requiring all vagrants wear adult diapers? Honestly, I’ve just hit my limit. What do I hope out of this childish little stunt? I hope more people do the same. I hope more people are tired of this crap and don’t take it anymore.
It’s time for a little civil disobedience. It’s time for the victims to stand up for themselves.
We must clean up after these people the city refuses to take off the streets. Let’s take the extra step to leave the garbage where the problem really started: City Hall.
And maybe the media would start elevating the other victims of homelessness: the victims of crime.
How funny would it be if they arrested us?
It would only show their castle is worth protecting, but ours is not.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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