Photos: Cries of "Shame!" as camping ban passes at tense council meeting


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Kelsey Whipple
Before approving the ban, the council voted unanimously to amend it, narrowing its language to a more streamlined definition of camping activities and the terms of shelter so that "there is no ambiguity in it," Brooks said. Although Kniech previously debated whether to ask for an amendment to further clarify its language regarding enforcement, she opted not to after city attorneys told her the addition would bring legal complications.

Amid facts and figures -- about shelter beds, sit-lie citations, sister bans -- Lopez returned to his gut, criticizing the ban for "punishing the poor for being poor." He told the room, "I don't even have the words to express disappointment at this level. I came to council happy in the past, and I don't anymore."

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Kelsey Whipple
As the meeting drew close to a vote, councilman Charlie Brown, who voted in favor of the bill, read messages from three residents who see the presence of the homeless as destructive to the community. "This is a fight for the sanity of our city," he called the ban. "It's time we fight this culture of chaos."

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Kelsey Whipple
Protesters stage a sit-in outside city council chambers.
With the vote finished, audience members trickled into the lobby, where their continued shouts resounded over the council proceedings, forcing its members to take a recess and drawing more than thirty police officers to monitor the protesters. Although ban opponents, many of whom are part of Occupy Denver, linked arms to stage a sit-in, they left the fourth floor after a verbal warning promising arrests if they continued.

But they didn't move far: Outside the building, roughly forty protesters regrouped next to the cars of the city council members, where they positioned picket signs around the parking spots of all those who voted in favor of the ordinance. They shouted out what they said was the home address of Brooks and san the "Imperial March" from Star Wars at the officers around them. As council members left the building, they did so with police escorts as protesters shouted out lines like, "See you in hell!"

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Kelsey Whipple
Kniech and Lopez address the crowd.
Assisted by a police blockade, Brooks vacated the area on a scooter, at which point Lopez and Kniech addressed the crowd and urged a calm response. "He has three babies, and this is terrifying," Kniech told protesters, while Lopez spoke in solidarity and encouraged supporters to maintain their cool in future protests. "Our movement has to be one of dignity and we have to take the high road," Lopez said. "We don't play like the one percent."

Click through for additional photos from last night's events.

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Denver City and County Building

1437 Bannock St., Denver, CO

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