Humboldt County Sheriff Trashing Homeless Belongings – Report

To the Lost Coast Outpost:
Please read and post all of the below.
January 5, 2013
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, in the past few days, brought a dumpster to a place where people had tents and other belongings.  The Sheriff’s Department, I believe using the labor of people in jail or doing SWAP, took every homeless person’s belongings and DISPOSED OF THEM.
I guess Mitchell, Birsso, Delaney and Vrieze law firm can again line its pockets with public money to defend human/civil rights violations.  The City of Eureka just spent $13,400 dollars hiring the firm to prosecute one homeless man’s camping tickets.  No evidence of garbage, drugs, drinking- nothing but SLEEP.  This same law firm lost in the civil case about the murder of Martin Cotton, beat to death by Eureka officers (Laird, Winkle, Whitmer, et al).  This same firm milked Humboldt County people for seven years of failed litigation defending the use of q-tipped and sprayed pepper-spray in non-violent protesters’ eyes.  The disgusting list goes on and on. The more abuse, the more cases, the more money for Nancy Delaney and crew.
But the reality for homeless people, who are not making their “living” on the deaths, victimization, and abuse of others, is that the County of Humboldt and City of Eureka are leaving them with NOTHING.  Imagine staying outside tonight for even just 5 hours with nothing- no blankets- nothing.  Then throw out all of your photos, food, letters, clothes, memorabilia…  It’s cruelty what is happening.  One woman who’s every belonging was stolen and thrown out by the Sheriff’s (and she has pneumonia) told me tonight that she can imagine how someone in a natural disaster feels, losing everything.  And that it feels kind of like she was raped.
Crimes against humanity.  Indecent.  Unacceptable.  We cannot let this continue.
Robert Manning died in December, froze to death sleeping on the streets of Eureka.  Politics of cruelty protect NO ONE.
P.S. We got the above-mentioned survivor two sleeping bags (one has a broken zipper) and, for the night, a yard and small tent.  Tomorrow we need community help to get her anti-biotics, medications- St. Joe’s Hospital only gave her medication while she was in as a patient- nothing to take with her- with pneumonia!

Can Homeless People Own Anything?

by   July 3, 2013If you don’t have a home, the city of Los Angeles feels you have no  right to have anything else either. Thankfully, federal judges disagree.

Eight homeless people left their property temporarily to use restrooms, fill water jugs or appear in court, the Los Angeles Times reports. They returned to their stuff — but there was no stuff. Among  the things the city confiscated and destroyed were IDs, birth  certificates, family memorabilia, medications, cellphones and  toiletries. The people sued.

L.A. took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. It argued that  it had to remove the items from sidewalks because it was cited by the  county Department of Public Health for health code violations. (Los  Angeles pretty much asked for the citations when it requested a county  inspection.)

To be fair, the violations were gross: an “accumulation of human waste, needles, condoms and a rat infestation.” The city said  waste and rotting food were found around and under homeless people’s  things, and without removing them, it couldn’t clean the sidewalks  thoroughly.

A federal district court issued an injunction against the city — a  court order against taking people’s stuff. L.A. appealed to the Ninth  Circuit Court of Appeals. Turns out that was a bad move.

The Court of Appeals decided that “the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments protect homeless persons  from government seizure and summary destruction of their unabandoned,  but momentarily unattended, personal property.”

The Fourth Amendment guarantees people’s right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” In other words, the government can’t take your stuff  “unreasonably.”

The Fourteenth Amendment, aka the equal protection clause, forbids  public officials from treating certain people — like those without  housing — differently from others. Stealing personal property is not  something cities typically do to people who keep their things in their  homes, but they treat homeless people differently, and that is a no-no.

The Supreme Court refused Los Angeles’s request to consider the case, leaving it bound by the lower courts’ rulings. The upshot: L.A. can’t  take property from Skid Row without good reason to believe one of the  following:

1. the property is abandoned;

2. it urgently threatens public health or safety;

3. it is evidence of a crime; or

4. it is contraband.

If the city passes that test and seizes possessions, it can’t destroy them unless they qualify for #2. If the items fall into #1, 3 or 4, the city has to keep them secure for at least 90 days to give the owner  time to get them back.

Los Angeles isn’t the only place making off with homeless people’s things. The L.A. Times reports that there are currently 30 lawsuits against Fresno, CA for “cleaning up” homeless encampments. Hawaii is in trouble too.

Without a home to leave their property in, homeless people don’t have a lot of choices other than keeping it on the sidewalk. But they are  just as entitled to protection from government search and seizure as  everyone else. It would be nice if the Supreme Court would make that  clear for the whole country, and even better if local governments would  figure it out on their own.

Nine New Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Homeless Residents of the City of Fresno
by posted by Mike Rhodes ( editor [at] ) Friday Mar 23rd, 2012 1:39 PM

A Press Release announcing the lawsuits by homeless people against the City of Fresno and Caltrans is below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 23, 2012 Contact:   Paul Alexander   650-798-2921 Paul.Alexander [at]  or                                               Chris Schneider 559-570-1214  chris [at] Nine New Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Homeless Residents of the City of Fresno
Attorneys for homeless residents of Fresno announced the filing of nine new lawsuits yesterday, brought on behalf of 12 individual homeless  residents of Fresno arising out of the demolition and destruction of  their dwellings and personal property beginning on October 27, 2011 and  continuing through the winter months.  The suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno, name as defendants the City of Fresno, Caltrans and a  number of individual defendants who authorized or participated in the  demolition of the homeless encampments.  The suits claim that the City  and Caltrans destroyed shelters, warm clothing, tents, and irreplaceable personal items in violation of both federal and state law as well as  the City’s own ordinance, without any regard to the impact these  destructions would have on the homeless.  As the suit points out, the  City of Fresno choose to begin its demolitions, including the  destruction of shelters and clothing that were essential for protection  against the rain and freezing weather, just as winter began.
In 2008, the City of Fresno and Caltrans settled a class action, known  as the Kincaid class action, brought against them for their treatment of homeless residents for a total of $2.35 million.  These lawsuits differ in that they are proceeding as individual actions and each will seek  trials to establish damages not only for property loss, but also for  suffering and illness caused by exposure to the elements, mental  suffering, and other forms of damage arising from the way the City  decided to go about its demolitions.  As in the earlier case, personal  items, medicine, text books and other essential property was destroyed.  Because of the nature and timing of the destruction, the suits also  seek losses for significant individual damages beyond property damage.   Each suit filed today sets forth the nature of the destruction and  damages caused to each plaintiff.
The law firms of Arnold & Porter LLP and Central California Legal Services, Inc. are  representing the individuals who filed lawsuits yesterday.
Lawyers for homeless residents anticipate that there will be a  significant number of additional individual actions filed in the weeks  ahead, though the exact number is unknown.  Many homeless residents are  still contacting counsel to assert claims.

About highboldtage

60 something ya. Libertarian Socialist, community activist, writer and troubador.
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