DENVER — It turns out San Francisco isn’t the only Democrat-run city with a poop problem.
Tired of cleaning up human waste outside his Denver office, Independence Institute CEO Jon Caldara sent a message to the powers that be by depositing the refuse on the front steps of the Denver City and County Building.
“Here is — oh, my God — human feces that I’ve cleaned up,” Mr. Caldara told reporters at the Monday poop-dump, as shown on CBS4 in Denver. “This is a present from the homeless to the people who have kept this homeless problem going.”
He also encouraged Denver residents to follow his example as an “act of civil disobedience.”
“Next time you clean it up, drop it off here,” Mr. Caldara said. “Drop it off at city hall as an act of civil disobedience, to ask them, to demand of them, to address the problem.”
Like other big cities, Denver has seen its homeless population surge in recent years as housing costs rise, inflation increases, recreational drugs become more widely available, police departments lose officers, and federal coronavirus pandemic aid tapers off.
The seven-county Denver metro region saw a 32% year-to-year increase in its homeless population in a one-day count taken in January by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, which tallied 9,065 homeless people.
Denver Mayor Michael Johnston, who was elected in June, has made combating homelessness his top priority, declaring a state of emergency in July and announcing plans to build 1,400 housing units in 11 “micro-communities” supported by wrap-around services.
Mr. Johnston said Monday that the city had shut down a homeless enclave and sheltered its denizens, calling it “the first time we’ve closed an encampment by moving people into housing.”
“Our first #MovingDay proves the best way to address the issue of homelessness is by focusing on the cause, not the symptom,” Mr. Johnston tweeted.
A well-known think tank leader Denver said he is tired of inaction by leaders on the issue of homelessness and made a big statement outside of the Denver City and County Building Monday. https://t.co/wGOSNCh0QC
— FOX31 Denver KDVR (@KDVR) September 26, 2023
Mr. Caldara, a columnist and host of the Colorado Public Television current-events show “Devil’s Advocate,” disagreed with the tiny-house approach, saying that “this is not an affordable-housing crisis.”
“This is a drug crisis, this is a mental-health crisis, and this is a crisis of law,” he said. “These people who need help will never get help if they are not brought to jail where they are forced to get some help.”
The free-market Independence Institute headquarters has been located in Denver for more than 10 years, but he said “in the last five years it’s gotten really bad.”
“Ever since the George Floyd riots and the soft-on-homeless policies,” he told The Washington Times.
The institute’s security cameras catch people using their private property as a public restroom about twice a week, he said, but reaching out to police and city officials has done little good.
“We have to clean up vomit and urine and syringes and used condoms and feces,” Mr. Caldara said.
His peaceful protest likely violated local ordinances, but he wasn’t arrested or cited, even though police did show up afterward to investigate.
“Everyone saw what I did,” Mr. Caldara said, “and I put my business card right in the pile of poop.”