Citizens return to City Council to protest sit-lie ban

Gabriel Go

Fort Collins citizens regrouped on the steps of Fort Collins City Hall to protest a series of anti-homelessness policies first brought to discussion two weeks ago at a special meeting of the Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday night.

The Compassion and Consequences Proposal refers to a set of proposed policies that seek to combat homelessness in the city. Among the proposals include a “sit-lie” ban, which would prohibit lying or sitting down on benches and seats for more than one hour.

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Another proposal would seek to reserve jail space for repeat offenders of the City Municipal Code for $85,000 to $150,000. Despite increased police presence in the downtown area, the city has had difficulty dealing with municipal offenders, which include homeless migrants.

This is the second protest organized by the Fort Collins Homeless Coalition with regards to the Compassion and Consequences Proposal. The first protest was held on Jan. 24, and was attended by around 20 people.

The protestors gathered in front of City Hall’s entrance, where councilman Gerry Horak interacted with them before the start of the session. The councilman engaged in a few tense exchanges with protestors.

“Why would you approach your own constituents with a condescending attitude? We’re trying to participate in something, and to be talked down to is disrespectful,” sophomore agricultural sciences Haley Dallas said to councilman Horak, following an exchange regarding the councilman’s outreach efforts. The councilman apologized to Dallas before continuing the discussion.

“I’m trying to show that unlike the United States Congress, it’s a little easier to get things changed… I’m always glad when you’re here,” Horak said to a protester.

Though the proposals are not yet up for a vote, the protesters made sure to present their stance during the council session.

“I came tonight to practice peace,” Fort Collins resident Jennifer Reisch said. “I came with the purpose of removing another brick from the wall of hate and fear. I want you all to abandon this whole package of Compassion and Consequences or sit-lie ban, whatever name we like to put on it.”

“Instead of creating three new jail cells, why don’t you help 30 people get off the streets every year?” one Fort Collins citizen proposed.

CSU alumnus and candidate for Fort Collins City Mayor Kwon Atlas was at the meeting, but he did not make any comments.

Collegian reporter Gabriel Go can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rgabrielgo.

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