View of Rhinoceropolis's space as seen on ABC7 News.

Dozens Evicted from DIY Denver Arts Space

Kieran Nicholson reports in the Denver Post that soon after the fire at Oakland’s warehouse arts space Ghost Ship, which killed thirty-six people, Denver officials have evicted about a dozen people last Thursday during frigid temperatures from a building known as Rhinoceropolis, on Brighton Boulevard.

About a dozen people resided there, and one of the lessees of the space, John Gross, said that “police knocked on the door and asked if they could come in . . . They said they wanted to talk about Oakland, they wanted us to be safe.” Shortly after that, Denver firefighters showed up and carried out an inspection, finding electrical and insulation issues on the property.

“An inspection by fire prevention technicians revealed numerous serious fire code violations,” the Denver Fire Department stated. “An order to comply was issued, stating that all sleeping units needed to be vacated immediately.” The two-story brick building is zoned industrial, Gross said, and people should not be residing there. Firefighters posted notices on the door, and the people inside were ordered to vacate at about 5 PM. The city did offer immediate housing assistance to those who were displaced, but Gross noted, “Everyone has somewhere to go . . . We’re staying with friends.”

Rhinoceropolis had planned to host a benefit event on December 17 for the Oakland fire victims. The space has been open for eleven years next door to its sister venue, Glob, and is widely recognized as a central site in Denver’s underground scene. Bands and musicians such as HEALTH and Pictureplane took to Twitter to decry the eviction, with the former stating: “[We] would book whole DIY tours just to play here. It was an amazing place.” Events at the space are donation-based, all ages, and staffed by the building’s tenants and volunteers. Many artists and bands have performed there, including Future Islands, No Age, Dan Deacon, Ponytail, Matt & Kim, and Lightning Bolt, whose drummer Brian Chippendale’s new book was recently written about by Nicole Rudick in the November issue of Artforum.