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Indybay Feature
Mon Dec 19 2016
Injunction Sought to Stop Caltrans from Destroying Personal Property
Civil Rights Groups Sue Caltrans to Stop Illegal Raids Against California’s Homeless
A lawsuit filed on December 13 by civil rights groups charges the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with violating the constitutional rights of homeless people by confiscating and destroying their property in ongoing sweeps. On multiple occasions, Caltrans has failed to give proper notice before raiding encampments — refusing plaintiffs an opportunity to move their belongings before destroying them in trash compactors.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, East Bay Community Law Center, and the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) have filed suit and are seeking a permanent injunction to stop this illegal practice throughout California. According to the complaint, the individual plaintiffs have lost cherished and necessary items, including family heirlooms, irreplaceable photographs of loved ones, tents and sleeping bags, warm weather clothing, mechanics’ tools, food, camp stoves, bicycles, and personal documents.

“I don’t want to be homeless on the streets of Oakland forever,” said plaintiff James Leone. “Caltrans has been a major obstacle to getting my life together. Twice in six years, I’ve been left with only the clothes on my back. Twice I’ve lost everything I own in the world.”

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