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Activists block entry to Denver municipal building in effort to stop landlords from filing evictions

Organized activist groups held a demonstration in front of a municipal building in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday, linking arms and blocking the entrance in an effort to keep landlords from entering to file eviction notices.

What are the details?

Anti-police group Afro Liberation Front organized the event dubbed #CancelEvictionsNow, sending a message online telling followers, “join us during business hours to ensure no landlord passes our line.” The group also advocates for abolishing the police and providing housing for all.

Protesters began arriving at the targeted Webb Municipal Office Building in the morning, promising to stay all day. Fellow progressive group Wall of Moms Denver also promoted the event online, tweeting, “We have a wall blocking one entrance. The more people that show up, the more entrances @AfroFrontCo can block to #StopEvictions.”

Wall of Moms called on people to “come say hi and make some #GoodTrouble.”

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Denver Post reporter Sam Tabachnik was at the scene, and reported that a group of around 25 “activists linked arms to form a human chain” in front of the building.

Tabachnik wrote:

After police told activists they couldn’t block the doors, people sat in a line in front of the building. But police soon told them that was also not allowed. Some 20 officers in SWAT gear and two officers on horses arrived, informing protesters they had three minutes to disperse or they would be subject to arrest.

Evictions resumed July 1 in Colorado after Gov. Jared Polis (D) lifted the moratorium he put in place in March as unemployment spiked due to the coronavirus crisis. However, the governor’s executive order requires that landlords “provide tenants with thirty (30) days’ notice of any default before initiating or filing action for forcible entry and detainer.”

Advocacy groups fear the timing means those eviction notices will start rolling in, reflecting months of backlog. The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 Coloradans could face eviction and end up out on the streets.

Last week, a spokesman for the Denver Sheriff Department said the department has not yet seen the wave of evictions some expected. “We anticipate a large influx, but that has not surfaced,” Maj. Lanceford Alexander told KNCN-TV.

Alexander explained that serving an eviction notice is always a difficult task, and especially so amid the economic hardships caused by the pandemic. “The people who are being evicted are going through a crisis,” he told the outlet. “Deputies show up on scene, they talk to them, they offer resources. They try to be as professional as they can to be sure they’re still being treated with dignity and respect.”

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