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Civil Rights Groups File Suit Against City of Fresno to Stop Raids Against Homeless People
by Posted by Mike Rhodes (Mike Rhodes [at] Comcast.net)
Tuesday Oct 17th, 2006 3:55 PM
The article below is from the American Civil Liberties Union website. The press conference announcing the lawsuit took place on the steps of Fresno City Hall on Tuesday, October 17, 2006.
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Civil Rights Groups File Suit Against City of Fresno to Stop Raids Against Homeless People

FRESNO --The City of Fresno is violating the constitutional rights of homeless people whose personal possessions are being destroyed and confiscated in ongoing raids, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court by civil rights groups. The groups are seeking a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to stop the relentless attacks on Fresno’s homeless residents. The lawsuit was filed in Fresno’s Federal District Court.

The City has carried out numerous raids of areas where homeless people live, destroying their personal belongings, according to the complaint filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the ACLU of Northern California and the law firm of Heller Ehrman, LLP. Clothing, medication, tents and blankets, as well as irreplaceable personal possessions, such as family photographs, personal records and documents have been destroyed. The raids are carried out by Fresno’s Police and Sanitation Departments, who use bulldozers and garbage trucks to confiscate tents and shopping carts full of personal belongings, usually crushing them on the spot, often with the homeless owners watching and protesting.

"The City cannot seize and destroy someone’s property just because they are homeless," said Paul Alexander, a partner at Heller Ehrman LLP. "The Constitution does not allow it."

"These unlawful raids on the City’s poorest residents are particularly egregious given the lack of available shelter," added Oren Sellstrom of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Sellstrom cited a recent report by a consortium of local government agencies and providers that found shelter in the Fresno area is available to only 1.4% of the homeless population, which is estimated at between 4,400 and 8,800. The lack of shelter for women is particularly acute. One of the few shelters in the City for women has capacity for only 25 women on any given night.

Pamela Kincaid has lived for the last 5 to 6 years in the area just south of downtown Fresno. About a year ago, she left her property unattended and when she returned it was gone. "Almost all of my possessions were taken, including important documents like my identification, my birth certificate, and my telephone/address book, which had important contact information for people I want to keep in touch with. Worst of all, I lost family photos, including the only pictures I had of my sister, my daughter, and my deceased mother. Those photos can never be replaced."

"Until I saw and heard what has been happening I would not have imagined that the City of Fresno would inflict this type of harm on any of its people." said ACLU-NC attorney Michael Risher. "The City’s attacks on the homeless violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable seizure of property, the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections against the deprivation of property without due process of law, and specific California statutes that require the government to safeguard property that comes into its possession.

###

For more information about this case, see the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California website HERE

For more information about the attacks against the homeless in Fresno, see:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/10/11/18319764.php
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/09/19/18312750.php
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/26/18301032.php
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/05/18294991.php
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/06/22/18281976.php

§Pam Kincaid
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Oct 17th, 2006 3:55 PM
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Pam said she “lost family photos, including the only pictures I had of my sister, my daughter, and my deceased mother. Those photos can never be replaced.” You can read Pam’s complete statement here: http://www.aclunc.org/news/press_releases/asset_upload_file297_3936.pdf
§Oren Sellstrom and Michael Risher
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Oct 17th, 2006 3:55 PM
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Attorneys Oren Sellstrom and Michael Risher answered questions at the Press Conference. All photos by Mike Rhodes
§Rev. Floyd Harris
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Oct 17th, 2006 3:55 PM
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Rev. Harris announced that there were several community events planned to support the homeless. He said that on Saturday, October 21 at 4 PM there is going to be a PRAYER CIRCLE. He invited the community to join in a circle of prayer to raise City Hall’s conscience on how their “quality of life” ordinances allows the police power to target and abuse people. There will be a rally at 5:30 PM. Support the homeless at the new Tent City to be located at the steps of Fresno City Hall. At 7 PM listen to people testify about why they are homeless, listen to their stories of how the police abused them with the blessings of city hall . At 8 PM there will be MUSIC, POETRY, AND SPOKEN WORDS. At 9 PM there will be an ALL NIGHT VIGIL ON THE STEPS OF CITY HALL. Candles, prayers, and dreams for justice and shelter for the homeless
§Cynthia Greene
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Oct 17th, 2006 3:55 PM
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Cynthia’s story can be seen here:
http://www.aclunc.org/news/press_releases/asset_upload_file198_3936.pdf
§Paul Alexander
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Oct 17th, 2006 3:55 PM
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“The City cannot seize and destroy someone’s property just because they are homeless,” said Paul Alexander, a partner at Heller Ehrman LLP. “The Constitution does not allow it.”

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Maggie Melvin
Thursday Oct 19th, 2006 4:58 AM
Police brutality, police harassement is growing epidemic that must be stopped. My white neighbors poured flammable liquid on my property, cut animal parts, human feces, came on my property without my permission to spray their fence and sprayed 17 of my shrubs and refused to acknowledge that I had a right to tell them to stay off my property. The instructions were given to them in the presence of a Richland County Deputy sheriff who treated me as though I had done something to their property - he side with the trepassers. When one of them tried to run me down in my front yard (this guy lived two doors down and was drunk) with his lawn mower (not once, not twice, but three times, the Richland County Sheriff Department came after me. I had to install cameras around my house to protect me from (not my neighbors) but the sheriff deputies. I am the fourth African American on my street who has been victimized by acts of racism. Two of us have installed exterior cameras outside out home.
by jill puntigam
Monday Aug 24th, 2015 1:01 PM
We need help in Hawaii. Rights are being manipulated and denied of homeless. Just like the ppl. Of Fresno. Hawaii politicians think that the state of Hawaii can change words in the constitution to work against us, the ppl. Please someone help. ACLU honolulu was anxious to jump in and inform us of our rights being violated, but after "looking into it" they never got back to us and the sweeps havent stopped. If its illegal in California its illegal evrrywhere in the U.S. Supreme court rulings work in all states in the U.S. HPD is being illogical unethical and illegal. .

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