Homeless swept aside at DNC

Aug 272008
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

DENVER — With one arm in a purple cast, the other begging passersby to buy a newspaper, Dave Siden minds his post.

The lankly built homeless man comes to the same corner — the intersection of 16th and Champa streets — to sell the Denver Voice, a newspaper he can purchase and redistribute for donations.

“I was working in the automobile business. I was one of those guys who went from all the way up to all the way down,” said 48-year-old Siden, who was forced to the streets because of liver and kidney disease five years ago.

As the Democratic National Convention promised, hordes of people have saturated the streets this week, which could mean a few extra bucks for peddlers and petty vendors.

But with the national media filling downtown, the city of Denver and local organizations have worked hard to remove homeless people like Siden from the picture, and special attention has been paid to key spots like the Pepsi Center.

Groups like the Colorado Coalition had planned to sweep the streets with the allure of free movie, museum or zoo passes. Emergency shelters usually reserved for extreme cold conditions have been open all week, which isn’t uncommon when major events bring the media to major cities.

And one Denver salon even promised free haircuts to clean up the homeless, according to a CBS4 report.

These efforts make the homeless feel brushed aside, Siden said, but that won’t stop him from selling newspapers.

“I can come out here in the morning, and sometimes [I] get lucky, and somebody gives me a twenty,” he said.

But many homeless employed by the Denver Voice, were scared out of the area, said Dawn Murphy, whose husband, John, is a vendor manager for the newspaper.

“. I feel like there were a lot of scare tactics that were used to influence the homeless to stay away from downtown,” Murphy said. “It really offends me, because homeless people are people too.”

Despite holding out, donations this week have been slim, Siden said.

“Ninety percent of the people that buy the paper are women. The men who buy it are working guys,” he said. “Maybe one in a hundred of my sells go to a guy in a suit.”

News Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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