(See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times for background).
Here’s a brief summary of what’s been going on in this turbulent case over the last week: On April 1 the plaintiffs in this already-hotly-contested suit against the City of Los Angeles for its policies regarding the confiscation of the property of the homeless on Skid Row asked the Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the City from further confiscations of their property. On April 6 the City filed a fragmentation grenade of a response accusing both plaintiffs and their attorneys of lying and asking that they be sanctioned by the court. The City’s pleadings had accusations that were sufficiently inflammatory that they prompted the plaintiffs the next day to lodge a request that some of the stuff the City filed be sealed due to privacy concerns.
This brings us to late Thursday afternoon, when the City filed its opposition to the plaintiffs’ application to seal along with a hypertechnical “clarification” that’s beyond my capacity to interpret. And yesterday, April 8, the plaintiffs filed a bunch of stuff in reply to the City’s opposition to the application for the restraining order. You can find it all here or see a list after the break. There’s too much going on for me to discuss it all, but the essential argument (and some pretty convincing photographic proof that the City is misrepresenting facts) can be found after the break.
Defendants do not argue, nor can they, that they provide the procedural due process required by Lavan v. City of Los Angeles “before permanently depriving [individuals] of their possessions.” Defendants destroy a significant amount of homeless people’s belongings, and the owners have no way to contest this deprivation. By Defendants’ own account, the City destroyed a substantial amount of Plaintiff’ belongings when they were taken into custody for minor quality of life offenses without any opportunity to contest that destruction.1 It’s also worth looking at the Supplemental Declaration of Eric Ares, in which he explains, referring to plaintiff Salvador Roque’s tent, that:
I observed at this point that the sides of the tent were intact. Exhibit 18 C depicts an individual in a white coverall bending down near the tent. The side of the tent is still intact. Exhibit 18 D depicts the tent slashed and the same individual folding it in such a way that the tent pole on the right is bent.
(Here are the exhibits he’s talking about). This is significant because in the Health Hazard Assessment Report that the City filed with its opposition to the TRO they claimed that they had to discard the tent because it was torn. If they slashed it, as these photos seem pretty conclusively to demonstrate, and then destroyed it on the basis of its being slashed, they did something that seems pretty awful. In fact, in every document they filed with the court they represented that the tent was already slashed when they came upon it, and thus they were allowed to destroy it. If they in fact slashed it themselves, they’re really being dishonest.
List of most of the pleadings filed on April 8, 2016:
- Citations removed for readability; see the original pleading if you need to know them.