City, homeless campers headed to federal court

Published: Friday, May. 6, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 6, 2011 - 9:59 am

The city of Sacramento once again is clashing with homeless campers, but this time the tussle will take place in federal court.

Next week in U.S. District Court, a trial is scheduled to begin on a class-action lawsuit filed about two years ago arguing that the city illegally seized and destroyed the property of homeless people who slept outdoors.

The county initially was part of the suit but agreed to pay $480,000 to resolve its portion of the action. The city declined to settle, setting the stage for the trial.

In the course of cleaning up campsites, the suit argues, city and county police, sheriff's deputies and park rangers destroyed backpacks, sleeping bags, photographs and other property owned by homeless people, according to their lawyer, Mark Merin. That violates the 14th Amendment's protection against loss of property without due process, he said.

The city has contended that there are not enough people who claim that officials took their property to meet the requirement for a class action.

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Read more articles by Cynthia Hubert

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