City begins clearing "Quarry" homeless camp


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Police and city workers showed up with bulldozers Dec. 11 to clean up the "Quarry" campsite southeast of downtown. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Police and city workers showed up with bulldozers Dec. 11 to clean up the "Quarry" campsite southeast of downtown.

Police and city workers began cleaning up the "Quarry" campground southeast of downtown early Dec. 11. Though police gave campers about two weeks notice to leave — far longer than the 24 hours usually required under city code — pockets of people still remained with their tents and belongings.

"I got an estimate — as of yesterday, there was like 70," says Lt. Lux, who leads the Colorado Springs Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team. "I don't think there's that many now...but there's certainly more than we had hoped."

Lux points out that because the Quarry is on private property, police technically don't have to give campers any notice before ordering them to leave. If anyone refuses to move, they could be arrested and cited for trespassing. But Lux says most were "actively trying" to pack up and leave.

"We've contacted people, they've been trying to get their stuff, and then we'll work around them best we can," he says.

Before police posted the site, Lux estimated there were more than 100 people camping. About five large bulldozers and 40 people, including police and city workers, were present Dec. 11 for the cleanup, which will probably take multiple days.

Police officers stopped by tents to speak with remaining campers, who hurried to fold tents and stuff garbage bags and suitcases with belongings.

Police officers talk to campers still present at the Quarry the morning of cleanup. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Police officers talk to campers still present at the Quarry the morning of cleanup.

For Regina, who said she'd been living in the Quarry with her boyfriend for the past few months since getting evicted, city efforts to give campers extra time and connect them with resources weren't enough to make up for kicking them off the land.

"Some people didn't have rides until today," said Regina, who declined to give her last name. She worried that police would make them leave before her mother could get there to help them load their belongings into her car.

"They make it seem like, 'Oh, we're so nice to you, we brought out DHS and the health department so let me give you some shots if you've got hepatitis A. Let me sign you up for food stamps and Medicaid,'" Regina said. "OK, that's wonderful. But what are you going to do about putting people up in houses? How are you really going to help people? Because you're not."

Regina said she didn't plan on going to a homeless shelter, even though Springs Rescue Mission had opened 150 additional low-barrier beds the day prior. Her dog, used to sleeping by her side, would have to sleep in a kennel. She also isn't sure where she would go during the day, as she doubts anyone would hire her and doesn't want to sit on the sidewalks or in the park waiting for the shelter to open.

Instead, Regina expects that she and her boyfriend will find another place to set up camp.

Nearby, Cody Gross and Josh Striker, who had each lived in the Quarry about a year in total, were more accepting as they packed up their belongings. "[The police] were actually nice this time about it," Striker said.

Neither was sure where he would go. Striker, like Regina, didn't want to go to the shelter because he'd have to put his dog in a kennel. He said he's been homeless on and off since 1996, when his family's trailer burned down.

"Definitely glad they're cleaning it up," said Gross, who's been homeless since 2015. "I do see a lot of families come through on that trail down there, a lot of people ride their bike through there."

Striker mused, "If there was more people like us that camped around here where we try to make sure it stays clean—"

"If there was structure, it'd be a lot easier," Gross said. "There was no structure, it was just pretty much come and go as you please."


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