Sunday, May 01, 2011

Homeless campers sue to block state
from destroying their belongings

Six homeless people are suing Oregon’s Department of Transportation, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and up to 50 unidentified county and state employees in federal court for what they say were violations of their Fourth Amendment constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The lawsuit targets ODOT’s sweeps of camps and the plaintiffs want a federal judge to force the agency to follow its own rules on preserving personal property found at campsites. The plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction against the state and county to block public employees from taking personal property from campsites without adequate notice and without posting information about how to retrieve the items.

The plaintiffs -- Joel Tucker, Steven Fletcher, Jeff Nelson, Robert Dean Thomas, Chanda Waulters and Mitchal Poncel -- lost personal items they said were taken during sweeps and then either lost or destroyed. The items included bicycles, sleeping bags, boots, transit passes, medication and ID cards and birth certificates.

Read the Portland Tribune report here.


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