The cost of taking police action against the Occupy Denver movement thus far has finally been tallied up by the Mayor's office. According to 9News, between early October through mid-November the city has spent $431,500 on costs related to Occupy Denver protests.
The Denver Post reports that between September and mid-November, Occupy Denver related costs to the Colorado State Patrol were $351,189. Bringing the grand total to at least $782,689 in costs for the the more than two months of protests.
Cities all over the nation are spending a fortune on evicting Occupy sites and arresting protesters involved, even though those same occupiers are often feeding and providing shelter to the city's homeless population. HuffPost recently reported that the same cities spending millions on evictions are also slashing the costs of homeless shelters.
Heather Maria Johnson, a civil rights attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said the organization has noticed a nationwide increase in laws that criminalize homelessness, including laws that prohibit sleeping, sitting or storing belongings in public spaces, even when there is insufficient shelter space. She argued these criminalization measures cost far more to municipalities than providing adequate shelter to people. Citing studies conducted in 13 cities and states, she said that it costs on average $87 per day to jail someone, compared to $28 per day to house them in a shelter. "With state and local budgets stretched to their limit, it's profoundly irrational to waste taxpayer money on these expensive criminalization policies," she said to HuffPost.
In a recent video, an unnamed Occupy Denver protester also spoke out about what they see as a hypocritical use of city funding, "Denver is now going to spend over a million dollars because of tents, for a fine that was probably less than 100 dollars. If [the city] would instead invest that money into the local community they could house all of the Denver homeless population for a year. But instead, they decide on this: riot police, they're going to tear gas us, they're going to hit us with batons."