In a talk radio interview Tuesday, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman cited a “parallel” between today’s homeless crisis and the “hippie movement of the late 60s and early 70s.”
“I know this is very controversial, but that if you look at the hippie movement of the late 60s and early 70s, when it was about dropping out of society, it was communal, it was banding together with others, it was a drug culture, marijuana, hallucinogenic drugs. And there is a parallel here,” Coffman told KHOW morning host Ross Kaminsky. “It is about dropping out of society for a lot of these people. It is about banding together as sort of a communal way and creating very strong relationships.”
Coffman acknowledges a key difference between the counter culture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and that’s the prevalence of crystal methamphetamine, which the mayor called “cheap and very addictive.”
Other differences, not mentioned by Coffman, include the absence of an anti-war component to the current homelessness crisis, the near absence of urban encampments in the 1960s, the dramatic increase in income inequality over the past four decades, and the presence of a much wider movement for cultural change in the 1960s.
“If you went hungry at night, without lights, without food, you would never make an ignorant comment like that,” says Demetria Skipper with Living Water Ministry Outreach, adding that Coffman’s week-long stint as “homeless Mike” was meaningless.
“It’s not the truth,” Skipper continued, referring to Coffman’s hippie statement. “It’s easy for someone like him to make a judgement. A lot of these people are homeless veterans. A lot of them are dealing with mental health issues. Until we deal with the mental health issues, we are not going to solve these problems.”
In his KHOW interview, Coffman was critical of advocates who want to offer unhoused people permanent housing and services, without work or other requirements, calling this a “low probability of success option.”
Coffman has proposed a camping ban for the city of Aurora, even though such bans have mostly failed in neighboring cities of Denver and Boulder–and Coffman himself has said the unhoused people will likely simply move around Aurora under a ban.
The mayor has openly stated that he’s using the homelessness issue to elect fellow conservatives to the Aurora City Council.
Efforts to reach Coffman were not successful.