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Archive for September, 2008

This is about the lawsuit brought by 5 PEOPLE PROJECT folks.

If you want to skip the story before the interview, go to 10 minutes, 13 seconds.

KMUD radio, Sept 22, 2008

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Here is the full COMPLAINT, originally filed on June 6, 2008 (amended May 13, 2009), in Federal Court, San Francisco.

LAYWERS NEEDED to assist the pro se plaintiffs!

Most recent press release at top of the page
Humboldt County DA Sued by Homeless Camp Participants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Humboldt County DA Sued by Homeless Camp Participants

On May 13, 2009, Paul Gallegos and the Humboldt County Office of the District Attorney (DA) were added as defendants in the federal civil rights lawsuit brought by five participants of the 2007 People Project homeless encampment demonstration. The DA’s Office was served with the complaint on Mon. June 8, 2009.
The lawsuit demands accountability for violations of human rights by the police and DA during their April 25, 2007 raid on the encampment in Arcata, California. People Project plaintiffs are demanding that the day and night harassment of homeless people by police be stopped immediately.
The DA’s office is being sued for its involvement in the raid and because it continues to perpetuate the criminalizing of poor people, including those who live without housing. Says plaintiff Kimberly Starr: “Although, in theory, the DA’s office is responsible for prosecuting all crimes, even crimes committed by police; instead, the DA’s practice, historically and to this day, is to be complicit with crimes and violence against houseless people… and demonstrators. On April 25, 2007, agents from the DA’s Office went beyond complicity. They documented and actually participated in false arrests, deprivation of life-sustaining necessities, theft of property, and other abuses against People Project encampment demonstrators.”
People Project plaintiffs and others were exercising their constitutional rights when raided by numerous police and other government employees. The well organized, publicized, and community supported encampment which began on April 21, 2007, highlighted the plight of Northern Humboldt’s houseless population, especially discrimination from local ‘law enforcement.’ The encampment was established on city property as a temporary safe place to sleep, and it publicly drew attention to a crisis situation- that in Arcata there is no “legal” place for the hundreds of houseless people to sleep. The camp was established also to generate dialogue and build support for a free, people run, ecologically-sustainable campground.
During the raid on the encampment, the police seized property, including medications and survival gear, of more than 50 houseless individuals. Recently posted youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWnG1vAJAbE&feature=channel_page) taken by employees of the DA’s Office, show the police confiscating a bag of prescription medications from one houseless demonstrator, Hans Ashbaucher, and brutalizing him. Mr. Ashbaucher, a plaintiff on the lawsuit, suffered a seizure while tightly handcuffed and face down on asphalt; police slammed their knees and legs into his body. The City of Arcata never returned Mr. Ashbacher’s medications.
The police and DA raid on April 25, 2007 brought to the fore ongoing discrimination and human rights violations against houseless people on the North Coast of California. A few months after the raid, Martin Cotton, a houseless man, was beat to death in Eureka (in front of numerous witnesses) by Eureka Police officers, and later Humboldt Sheriff deputies. The Humboldt DA refused to prosecute any of the officers involved in the beatings.
Sara Hamilton of Redwood Curtain CopWatch, who was present throughout much of the 2007 People Project encampment reminds us: “Every day and night police stalk, target, intimidate, and violate the bodies and property of houseless people. As a society, we must refuse to accept that behavior from anyone -and defend houseless people.”
People Project, a cooperation of community members focused on human rights and building dignified community spaces as and with houseless people, knows that this lawsuit is only one step toward ending the persistent government harassment, abuse, and extra-judicial punishment of houseless folks. The People Project lawsuit points out: “…The Defendant City of Arcata has not only failed to provide any shelter or safe space for homeless people to rest, but has been heavy-handed in discouraging and punishing any groups or individuals who attempt to provide or create such spaces.” The lawsuit continues, “Arcata has proven itself to be deaf to all urgings by community to respect homeless peoples’ rights and to cease from day and night harassment, intimidation, and punishment of homeless people for performing or needing to perform life-sustaining activities..” … “whereas the Defendants exhibit no intention of voluntarily changing such unconstitutional pattern and practice, and [we] can exhaust no other options, [we] appeal to th[e] Court to provide declaratory and injunctive relief regarding such discriminatory and inhumane actions by Defendants.”
Rob Hepburn, a Veteran for Peace and People Project supporter alluded to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and asserted, “Not allowing a person to sleep is tantamount to torture.”

PEOPLE PROJECT Sues Local Governments and Police for Violating Free Speech and Human Rights of “Houseless” People

ARCATA, CA (September 2, 2008) A lawsuit regarding ongoing civil rights violations against homeless people on the North Coast of California has been brought against employees and police of City and County government and California Highway Patrol in Humboldt County. Actual and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, arising from State and Federal claims are demanded by PEOPLE PROJECT Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in San Francisco’s Federal Court. People Project, a cooperation of community members who are focused on human rights and building dignified community spaces as, with, and for houseless people hopes to prohibit the City of Arcata and other governments throughout Humboldt County from continuing their persistent harassment, abuse, and extra-judicial punishment of houseless people.

The lawsuit arises from the false arrests and other wrongs against Hans K. Ashbaucher, Johnie C. Miller, Kimberly L. Starr, Kristofer Johnson, and Michelle Hernandez – while they were exercising their constitutional rights participating in a well organized, publicized, and community supported encampment. Organized by People Project, the encampment demonstrated the plight of Northern Humboldt County’s houseless population and the ritual discrimination it endures from local ‘law enforcement’ officials. The People Project encampment was established on city property to provide a temporary safe place to sleep and to publicly draw attention to the situation that, in the City of Arcata, there is no “legal” place for the hundreds of houseless people to sleep. The camp was established also to generate dialogue and build support for a free, people run, ecologically-sustainable campground.

The People Project lawsuit points out: “Though the Defendant City of Arcata fails to offer any ‘legal’ housing facilities for people who have no house of their own … City of Arcata persists in criminalizing homeless people who attempt to sleep anywhere outside or even in their own vehicles, and no free campground safe zone exists for the 300 plus homeless people who reside in Arcata (population 17, 000) at any given time. The Defendant City of Arcata forbade churches from allowing people to sleep in cars in their parking lots. The Defendant City of Arcata has not only failed to provide any shelter or safe space for homeless people to rest, but has been heavy-handed in discouraging and punishing any groups or individuals who attempt to provide or create such spaces.” It is these policies that People Project is attempting to change in Arcata and throughout the county.

Several law enforcement agencies were involved in dismantling the People Project encampment in the April 25, 2007 raid (and are thereby subjects of this lawsuit): Arcata Police Department, Humboldt State University Police, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, Eureka Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Fortuna Police Department. The combined interagency force dismantled the protest camp using violent tactics on the primarily houseless and entirely non-violent demonstrators. After the police raid, the City of Arcata held the participants’ property, including medications and survival gear, of more than 50 homeless individuals. The City destroyed some items and waited 10 days after the raid to release many un-catalogued items and in some cases, returned property to the wrong people. The Arcata and HSU police harassed encampment demonstrators throughout the next 7 nights; demonstrators had relocated to another Arcata City property after the raid.

The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office (present at the raid) and the City of Arcata declined to bring criminal charges against the Plaintiffs and the 14 other people who were falsely arrested for participating in the public encampment protest, suggesting the wrongful nature of the raid tactic.

In addition to claims of false arrest, wrongful confiscation, and destruction of personal property and vital medication, the People Project lawsuit states that “Arcata has proven itself to be deaf to all urgings by community to respect homeless peoples’ rights and to cease from day and night harassment, intimidation, and punishment of homeless people for performing or needing to perform life-sustaining activities..” It continues, “…whereas the Defendants exhibit no intention of voluntarily changing such unconstitutional pattern and practice, and [we] can exhaust no other options, [we] appeal to th[e] Court to provide declaratory and injunctive relief regarding such discriminatory and inhumane actions by Defendants.”.

Recently, the City of Fresno, California agreed to a $2.35 million dollar settlement to several homeless people after city employees seized and destroyed their property.

Rob Hepburn, a Veteran for Peace and People Project encampment supporter alluded to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and asserted, “Not allowing a person to sleep is tantamount to torture.”

**Photos from encampment and raid, as well as Complaint filed June, 2008 in U.S. District Court, Northern District, CA available by request.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept 2, 2008

PEOPLE PROJECT Sues Local Governments and Police for Violating Free Speech and Human Rights of “Houseless” People

[see post above]

“Not allowing a person to sleep is tantamount to torture.”

**Photos from encampment and raid available by request and at various links in this site.

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