United States District Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against LAPD to Prevent Illegal Confiscation of Skid Row Residents’ Personal Property

Press Release
April 25, 2011           
For Immediate Release           

Contacts:
Pete White, LA CAN (213) 434-1594
Jeff Dietrich, Catholic Worker (323) 267-8789

Download PDF of Press Release HERE.

United States District Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against LAPD to Prevent Illegal Confiscation of Skid Row Residents’ Personal Property

Last Friday, the Law Offices of Carol Sobel, supported by the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) and the LA Catholic Worker, successfully obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against the LAPD’s Central Division in the United States District Court. Pending a hearing on a preliminary injunction, the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) prohibits the LAPD, Public Works, and other City agents from conducting the following activities:

  1. Seizing property in Skid Row absent an objectively reasonable belief that it is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime, or contraband; and
  2. Absent an immediate threat to public health or safety, destruction of said seized property without maintaining it in a secure location for a period of less than 90 days.

Community residents, organizers and advocates have long decried LAPD’s policy of confiscation and destruction of personal property in Los Angeles’ skid row community. While not a new phenomenon, the efforts to seize and destroy property belonging to homeless persons recently reached another feverish pitch.  As a result residents have been summarily denied the right to possess personal belongings and have had medicines, EDARs (portable tents), clothes, electronics, family portraits and other irreplaceable items seized and destroyed. These efforts are part of the discriminatory policing in Skid Row that is directly linked to downtown gentrification efforts.

The LAPD has long and sordid history of simply taking and destroying property from people unfortunate enough to be rendered homeless. The courts, however, over the past few decades have declared these practices illegal and validated the rights of homeless Los Angeles residents. Dating back to February 25, 1987 [Bennion v. City of Los Angeles] the courts issued a TRO for this same behavior. Additionally, on November 5, 2001 [Justin v. City of Los Angeles] the Honorable Lourdes Baird entered a permanent injunction against the City of Los Angeles for, once again, this illegal behavior. Lastly, in November 2006 [Richard Noe v. City of Los Angeles] the Honorable Andrew Guilford approved a settlement for a class of individuals whose property was taken and destroyed at Venice Beach.

Residents and community-based organizations will continue to fight to protect all human and civil rights and will work to educate the community about this recent court victory.

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8 Responses to “United States District Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against LAPD to Prevent Illegal Confiscation of Skid Row Residents’ Personal Property”

  1. thats fucked up. the LA pd have always been assholes

  2. LAPD is simply following my request to keep neighborhood property values up. Blame the housing developers pouring money into the politicians pockets. Blame the small business owners, the downtown loft owners, the yuppies, the restaurants, the etc… for wanting it homeless free. I want to be able to walk outside for a jog, walk my dog, get my grub on, get my coffee, and my art walk on without being harassed by a filthy, urine smelling , dirty looking, money begging homeless man.

  3. so where are the homless supposed to live. Is harrasment of black people a part of your request too. alot of those people had jobs until Bush fucked up the economy

  4. What a shame. Does the LAPD take away their pets too? If more shelters offered accommodations for pets not so many would be left on the streets. Pets of the Homeless offers homeless shelters crates so homeless with pets can be helped.

  5. Does this restraining order have to do with only Skid Row? Or does it apply to all LAPD, et al, when approaching homeless camps in the City of Los Angeles? I ask because there is an developing event in Sunland-Tujunga that has to do with confiscation of homeless folks’ tents and other personal belongings

  6. […] residents.  Again with pro bono legal support, residents claimed initial victory when a Temporary Restraining Order was issued on April 22, 2011 to prevent LAPD and the City’s Public Works Department from seizing […]

  7. health care jobs…

    […]United States District Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against LAPD to Prevent Illegal Confiscation of Skid Row Residents’ Personal Property «[…]…

  8. […] heard arguments from the L.A. City Attorney’s Office in its appeal for an overturning of  a recent federal court decision that bars the city’s Bureau of Street Services and LAPD from seizing/destroying the property […]

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