The Homeless v. The City

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    A man warms himself on a grate in the sidewalk in Philadelphia.

    Several members of San Diego's homeless have filed a federal class-action lawsuit claiming city workers violated their civil liberties by trashing their things while the homeless were grabbing a bite to eat inside a local church.

    On at least three occasions in September and October, the suit claims that San Diego police officers and city crews threw grocery carts and other belongings in the trash while the homeless were receiving services from downtown churches and centers.

    The suit, filed by the ACLU, seeks money for losses and a temporary injunction keeping the city from doing cleanups like this in the future.

    A group of homeless people say the raids happened when they went into God’s Extended Hand, an East Village Church, to pray and get some food or into the Neil Good Day Center which provides showers and a laundry facility for the homeless.

    Among the items thrown away were blankets, prescription medications and family photographs the suit alleges.

    John Crawford, 53, is part of the lawsuit. He’s been living on San Diego's streets for the last 18 years. “I’d like to show justice they can't destroy people's personal belongings,” he said.

    David Ross, better known as "the water-man," has been working with San Diego's homeless for years. He hopes this lawsuit is a wake-up call to city leaders.

    “I have never seen a city so apathetic and so unresponsive to the needs of the people down here, it's absolutely unacceptable,” Ross said.

    As of Wednesday night, a spokesperson from the City Attorney's office said they had not yet received the complaint filed in court Wednesday. They will review the lawsuit, before making any comments.