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Indybay Feature

New Homeless Evictions in Fresno

by Mike Rhodes (mikerhodes [at] comcast.net)
The California Highway Patrol is in the process of evicting homeless people in a downtown Fresno encampment.
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New Homeless Evictions in Fresno
By Mike Rhodes

About two dozen residents of a homeless encampment in downtown Fresno were told by the California Highway Patrol to “move on” this morning. “The Meadow,” the name given the encampment by the residents, were given 72 hours to move on. The Meadow is located south of Ventura and west of G street and under a freeway overpass. Many of the residents moved here after being evicted from the Ventura & E street encampment last summer.

With no safe place to go, it is unclear if this encampment will break up and move elsewhere. Residents were visibly upset by the CHP order to move that was preceded by ID checks and threats of arrest. Lydia (not her real name) told me she was ordered to produce her ID by CHP officers. She told them that she did not want to show them her ID. The officers told her “then we are going to take you downtown and find out who you are.” Lydia said all she could find was a bus pass but that the officers accepted that as her ID. Homeless people in Fresno are constantly stopped and their ID run through a data base to look for outstanding warrants or probation violations.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has the following advice for anyone stopped for questioning:

1. It is not a crime to refuse to answer questions, although refusing to answer can make the police suspicious about you. In California, you cannot be detained or arrested for merely refusing to give your name or identify yourself, but you can be in some states including New Mexico and Nevada. But use your judgment; refusing to give your name could lead to your detention or arrest even if it’s unjustified or unlawful.

2. The police may “pat-down” your clothing if they suspect you are carrying a concealed weapon. Do not physically resist, but make it clear that you do not consent to any further search.

3. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why.

4. Do not “bad mouth” the police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.

There were conflicting reports, as this news story goes to press, about the eviction of homeless people at the encampment known as “The Hill.” The Hill is just east from The Meadow and is probably the largest homeless encampment in Fresno. There are 30 or 40 structures on The Hill with as many as 100 people living there at any one time. At least one homeless person said residents of The Hill had been told to leave by the CHP, but that report could not be confirmed.

I did ask the CHP officers on the scene for their version of what had happened this morning. The officer in charge refused to comment about their actions at the homeless encampment.

###

For a list of articles and documents about the struggle for civil liberties for homeless people in Fresno, see: http://www.fresnoalliance.com/home/homelessness.htm
§The Eviction Notice
by Mike Rhodes
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§Autry City
by Mike Rhodes
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Someone put this sign up over the weekend attempting to rename The Hill after Fresno mayor Alan Autry.
§The Meadow
by Mike Rhodes
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Most people in The Meadow live in tents like the one seen here. All photos by Mike Rhodes
§Eviction Notice on Man
by Mike Rhodes
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When I got to The Meadow this morning there were eviction notices everywhere, even on this homeless resident. He was surprised when I pointed it out to him.
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Randy Nelson
The Fresno Housing Alliance has a goal of a minimum of 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2010. Transitional housing is included in this goal. The Housing and Community Development Commission recommended to the City Council that two large properties be purchased approximatedly 2,000 yards southeast of this camp. This property will be owned by the City of Fresno and the neglected of our city will still be within walking distance of the Rescue Mission and the Poverello House. It is unfair and unacceptable to treat our fellow neighbors, both living in adjacent homes as well as tents, like this. Our prayers are with the all the disenfranchised in the City of Fresno, as well of our CHP, Police, Firemen, Sheriffs, Code Enforcement, elected officials, all people in the City of Fresno, Chinatown neighborhoods, Poverello House & Rescue Mission in these turbulent times.


by Ann G
The so called active "Religious" people need to get out of their church, temple, etc.. and start working to get homeless off the streets. It is sickening, that people can go to church every Sunday or temple on Saturday.. yet can ignore those sleeping on the street.
Why not take one day a month of work and give it to those working to get homeless a place to live and programs to get mental/physical help
by Ann g
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Mike Rhodes (mikerhodes [at] comcast.net)
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Most homeless residents of The Meadow left before the 8 AM deadline set by the California Highway Patrol for them to “move on.” The few homeless people that were still there when Caltrans and the CHP arrived, asked them why they were being evicted. Big Sue, a homeless woman who lives in the area, said officials told her that they were concerned that a burning car might fly off of the overpass and crash into the residents. I asked Big Sue and several other residents of The Meadow if burning cars flying off the overpass was a problem. They thought the question was hilarious and said that no car has ever crashed off the overpass into the encampment where they live.

Caltrans put up NO TRESPASSING signs, but no homeless peoples property was taken. Cynthia Greene, a resident at this homeless encampment said Caltrans and the police would be back on Monday to finish the job of “cleaning up” The Meadow.
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