Saturday, March 3, 2007

Los Angeles Times Article

ACLU challenges LAPD's skid row cleanup

The group says officers harass and unfairly search and detain homeless people, and it seeks to extend a court injunction to limit the enforcement effort.
By Richard Winton and Cara Mia DiMassa, Times Staff Writers
March 3, 2007

The LAPD's aggressive campaign to clean up skid row, which has resulted in 5,000 arrests in four months, is being challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union, which charges that officers harass and unfairly detain and search homeless people.

The ACLU of Southern California, seeking to extend a court injunction that would limit the Los Angeles Police Department's ability to search skid row residents, presented testimony from more than a dozen homeless people who say they were mistreated and had their civil rights violated.

The stakes are high: The LAPD flooded skid row with more than 50 officers last fall in hopes of reducing crime and blight. Since then, crime has decreased along with the area's homeless population, which according to the LAPD's census stands at around 800, compared with 1,800 in September.

Four years ago, the ACLU successfully blocked LAPD Chief William J. Bratton's earlier plan to clean up skid row with an ordinance banning overnight street camping.

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