Saturday, April 15, 2006

Los Angeles Cannot harass Skid Row Residents

Ninth Appeals Court Rules Against LA Effort to Criminalize Homelessness

The City of Los Angeles, one of the 20 meanest cities toward homeless people in the United States, was found to be violating the rights of its homeless community with a law that prevented sitting, sleeping or lying on the sidewalk. The court found the law an "unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter" violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Police, as they do in many U.S. cities were permitted to go out and threaten arrest to anyone using the sidewalk for shelter. If the individual did not move, the police would arrest the individual. The court even acknowledged in a 2-1 decision that the LA ordinance "made it a crime to be homeless."

The notoriously bad LA police will no longer be able to engage in this activity. The City only in the last month issued a "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness," but did not acknowledge their criminalization efforts. LA has reputedly the largest homeless population in the United States (80,000-90,000 people a year), which we certainly believe has something to do with the efforts to make it a crime to be homeless.

As a reminder, Cleveland is one of the few cities in the United States that has a signed agreement with the homeless population that police will not arrest or threaten arrest for purely innocent behavior of sitting, sleeping, standing, eating on the sidewalks in Cleveland. We have had this in place since 2000, and have found better ways to serve the population. Cuyahoga County has around 25,000 homeless in a year.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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