City and LAPD Agree to Restrictions in Searching Skid Row Residents
As reported in the LA Times (link above), the City and LAPD entered into a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California and civil rights attorney Carol Sobel. The original lawsuit, Fitzgerald vs. City of Los Angeles, resulted in an injunction prohibiting unlawful stops and seizures by LAPD in the Skid Row community – primarily targeting those on parole or probation.
When the Safer Cities Initiative began in the fall of 2006, LA CAN members experienced and/or witnessed violations of the Fitzgerald injunction. People were being randomly stopped and questioned about parole and probation status, and subsequently searched; people were being handcuffed, searched and warrant checked after being stopped for an infraction such as jaywalking; and other violations.
LA CAN members worked with the ACLU and Carol Sobel to gather the evidence needed to show violations of the injunction and also get the injunction extended. The injunction was extended in April 2007, in which the ruling stated:
“This is a direct admission, from the Officer in Charge of the Safer Cities Initiative, that Defendants have a policy of searching Skid Row residents solely on the basis of the resident’s parolee or probationer status without knowledge of any search conditions imposed. The law does not allow such searches. Accordingly, the Court finds that, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendants, they have admitted to an unconstitutional policy.”
This final settlement imposes strict restrictions on the conduct of officers in Skid Row, one step among many to ensure that the civil rights of poor and homeless residents are protected. LA CAN will be training residents on the provisions of the settlement every Thursday at 2:00 pm in January 2009. Join us!