Sunday, December 28, 2008

Upscale community harasses the homeless,
lawsuit claims

The upscale enclave of Laguna Beach has engaged in a campaign of harassment of the homeless, claims a lawsuit filed in federal court.

The city offers no transitional or emergency shelter (other than a cold weather shelter which operates between December and March) and has refused to rescind an ordinance that makes it illegal to sleep on the beach, in city parks, on public streets, in alleys or in a car parked at any place in the city.

"The ordinance effectively makes it illegal to be homeless in Laguna Beach," said Jill R. Sperber, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges that police officers have actively engaged in a campaign of harassment against the homeless. In January, the city touted hiring an officer as part of an extensive outreach effort to build trust with street people and persuade them to get aid. But that effort is actually an excuse to interrogate the city's homeless, wake them in the middle of the night and early morning, demand ID and search property, the lawsuit claims.

Read the Los Angeles Times report here. And read the lawsuit here.


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