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Lawsuit filed against city over destruction of property incidents

December 2, 2009 - 5:09 pm

Handwritten list detailing items people say were destroyed by city workers

The ACLU’s teamed up with attorney Scott Dreher in a lawsuit against the city of San Diego over the destruction of homeless peoples’ property in a series of three sweeps intended to clear East Village sidewalks of abandoned trash. According to a complaint (PDF, 115 pages)—filed today in federal district court—the “raids,” as they’re referred to, took place on Sept. 22, Oct. 7 and Oct. 15 while people were eating lunch at a nearby social-services provider. Items like blankets, sleeping bags, cash, medication, shoes, clothes, prescription medication and rehabbed shopping carts given out by the nonprofit Isaiah Project were seized and destroyed, in some instances while the owners were trying to get their property back, the lawsuit argues.

As I reported in September, though it’s illegal for personal possessions to obstruct the public right-of-way, city municipal code also says that: “Wherever possible, Enforcement Officials shall make a reasonable effort to ascertain whether the unattended personal property or possessions have been abandoned,” and “unattended personal property or possessions that are sanitary and saleable or useable and of a value greater than one hundred dollars ($100) shall be transferred as soon as is practicable to the Chief of Police.”

Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long confirmed for me that no items were cataloged or turned over to the police. And the lawsuits’ plaintiffs’ insist that the items they lost weren’t abandoned property.

The complaint seeks an injunction against future clean-ups and also compensation from the city for what the plaintiffs lost. In July 2008, a similiar lawsuit was brought against the city of Fresno, which was required to $2.25 million after a federal judge found that city employees repeatedly and improperly seized and destroyed homeless folks’ personal property.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 3, 2009 - 8:04 am 8:04 am

    Ef’n ACLU.
    Can we send these a-holes to Iran?

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