DENVER – This afternoon, the Colorado Springs City Council will discuss a new proposal that would criminalize “sitting, kneeling, reclining or lying down” in various places, including on planters, sidewalks, and curbs, throughout downtown.
ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley issued the following statement:
“The ACLU of Colorado strongly opposes the proposed ‘sit-lie’ ordinance in Colorado Springs. Sitting innocently on a planter that appears designed for that purpose is not a threat to public safety. It is an absurd government overreach to make it a crime worthy of a $2500 fine and six months in jail to sit, kneel, or lie down in a public place.
“This ordinance is clearly being proposed to give police another tool of selective enforcement to target, harass, and displace people who are homeless or living in poverty. Public spaces are more than just right-of-ways for shoppers and consumers. Courts have long recognized the importance of public streets and sidewalks as forums for free speech and peaceable assembly, and this ordinance would infringe on those fundamental rights.
“Rather than spending taxpayer dollars to criminalize peaceful conduct, Mayor Suthers and the Colorado Springs City Council should focus their attention on addressing the root causes of poverty and homelessness and on fixing well-established problems of racial bias and use of force in the police department.“