• Westish Contributor

Landlords Take a Knee in Show of Solidarity with Their Evicted Tenants

By Stephanie Jones

DENVER, CO - The Colorado eviction moratorium imposed by Governor Jared Polis expired this week, leading to thousands of evictions across the state. In Denver, evictees left their homes to see an inspiring show of solidarity: Lining their front paths and doorsteps were the very landlords who evicted them, taking a knee.

Gary Smith, a Denver landlord, explained why he decided to kneel, “Yeah, Brenda in unit 3 is a single mother of two. She lost her job and hasn’t paid rent in the past few months. I get that Covid has taken a toll on everyone and I felt real bad I had to kick her outta my building. So, I thought I’d show up, bend a knee, and sort of tell her ‘I’m sorry, but I gotta do what I gotta do’.”

Benjamin Arcidiacano, a landlord in Capitol Hill, described his inspiration, “We [the landlords] were all in our Facebook group chat, talking about how the police are getting a bad wrap for just doing their jobs. We knew that we had to prevent people from seeing us as the bad guys ‘cause of all the evictions we have to do now as part of OUR jobs. We thought and we thought, then our boys in blue delivered: an effortless public gesture that emphasizes our [finger quotes] humanity and says, ‘Hey, I’m not the bad guy here.’”

Andrew Morrison, a former tenant commented, “My wife got Covid and the medical bills have piled up and up. Now, I have no idea what we’ll do. Also, you see that guy Gary over there? He was our landlord. Did you know he cut our electricity the first month we didn’t pay? Then he threatened to turn off our water next month if we didn’t pay in full. Now he’s kneeling? I don’t get it. MY WIFE IS SICK GARY, SICK! WHY DON’T YOU STAND UP AND FACE ME LIKE A MAN!”

Daniel Dobbs, a landlord from Aurora, drove in to join the show of solidarity, “I heard about what these guys were gonna do and knew I had to be there. None of my tenants are being evicted because I applied for mortgage forbearance and let them skip rent for the past few months. I still don’t understand why some of these guys are here - they’re the ones who did the evicting!”

Though the demonstration was mostly peaceful, Gary Smith and Andrew Morrison were taken into police custody following a physical altercation on the sidewalk at 14th and Corona.

Stephanie Jones is a Denver-based improvisational comedian who builds apps by day and teaches / performs by night.

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