And Up We Go: LA’s Homeless Sue the City for Its Property-Destroying Street Sweeps
A city worker uses a power washer to clean the sidewalk by a tent city along Division Street Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in San Francisco. Homeless people have until the end of Friday to vacate a rambling tent city along a busy San Francisco street declared a health hazard by city officials earlier this week. The mayor’s office says about 40 tents remain, down from a high of 140 tents this winter. The tents have lined both sides of a street under a freeway overpass for months, drawing complaints from residents and businesses. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
LA has a problem.
Well, okay — it has thousands of problems.
But one of them is the rampant increase of people camping out — and crapping out(side) — on the streets.
And recently, the laser-sharp minds in the Los Angeles government decided one way to address the homeless problem was to cancel bench warrants for anyone dwelling externally (here).
Yep — that’ll really give the issue a bit of What For.
Well, the homeless have just stepped up to a new rung of empowerment: They’re suing the city.
Seven homeless people have filed a federal lawsuit, claiming LA’s committed unlawful seizure and destruction of their property. During street sweeping, that is.
The suit insists the city has unconstitutionally employed its municipal code in order “to justify the ongoing practice of seizing and destroying homeless people’s critically important belongings—including tents, medications, important documents, and other items they need to survive on the streets.”
What documents are needed to survive on the streets?
The suit was announced at a news conference Thursday. One of the plaintiffs — Janet Garcia — told the press she had to perpetually repurchase goods because of the city’s crappiness:
“I have to buy my own supplies, and I always have to start over because they come and they sweep and they take everything from me. I can’t get out of the hole that I’m in because they keep putting me back at square one.”
Someone should tell her about the city’s homeless shelters and job programs to get help her back on her feet. Given their existence, it seems perhaps odd that anyone would want to live outdoors.
But for those in the elements, cleaning is the enemy.
And there was in fact a major cleanup drive just recently — on July 1st, the area near the LA Civic Center received, in the words of CBSLA, a “summer scrub.”
People living on the street near Los Angeles City Hall were notified in advance of the cleanup effort with flyers that were posted on light poles in the area. The flyers said the major cleaning would include sidewalks, alleys, parks, beach, parking lots and other public access areas.
Any property left behind, except for anything that was an immediate threat to public health or safety, trash or evidence of a crime or contraband, would be collected by the city and kept in a secure location for up to 90 days.
In the meantime, seven bold Angelenos have risen up and raised their voices to fight for their rights.
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