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Pop-up bar for homeless? Denver police investigating

Denver police clean up homeless encampment after outdoor bar reported
Denver police clean up homeless encampment after outdoor bar reported 01:35

Denver police say they are investigating an apparent open-air pop-up bar for the homeless on the north edge of downtown Denver.


"We're hearing there was an open bar, sales of alcohol, things like that," said Denver Police Patrol Division Chief Aaron Sanchez as he surveyed the scene at 23rd Street and Champa Street. "We have officers looking into that."

Sanchez, Denver police officers and other city officials were at the encampment Monday after Sanchez said there had been "numerous complaints" about the encampment blocking the sidewalk and impeding pedestrian access.

The encampment featured displays of liquor bottles, numerous couches and lounge chairs, recliners and astroturf flooring. Large umbrellas offered shade, and dozens of empty liquor bottles were visible when CBS News Colorado visited the site.

Sanchez said there had been complaints about the apparent streetside tavern and he said, "We are looking into all other allegations in regards to the bar setup and along those lines."


 Additionally, he said there had been complaints about the couches and tents being rented out for prostitution that were also being investigated.

Meghan Shay, Director of Development and Marketing at Step Denver, said she had been driving by the encampment every morning on her way to work and noticed the apparent bar. Step Denver is an organization that helps homeless men deal with mental health issues and recover from addiction.

She said an encampment serving liquor to the unhoused was counterproductive, noting that one report said "over 80% of the homeless have experienced lifetime alcohol and/or drug problems."

Shay said a report on street mortality showed that in 2022, drugs and alcohol were the cause of 60% of homeless deaths.

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