Sacramento homeless residents and advocates have been occupying space in front of Sacramento City Hall since December 8th, and police are trying to put a stop to it. They’re protesting a draconian anti-homeless ordinance, or “Camping Ban” that makes it illegal to camp for consecutive nights within city limits. Even on private property with the property owners permission. This leaves people without homes little options to protect themselves from the elements.
“You don’t see people with homes roaming around with sleeping bags and tarps and essential supplies to stay warm. You see homeless people doing that,” says James Clark, coordinator of the protest.
The protesters intend to expose the hardship that is created by the ban, which essentially criminalizes the homeless, who sleep outside by definition.
January 2nd, around 20 sleeping protesters were raided after dark by 49 cops in riot gear. 7 people were arrested.
There have been 10 arrests for sleeping since the occupation began 5 weeks ago. Police are also confiscating tents, sleeping bags, blankets, and anything else they consider “camping paraphernalia”. But the group says they’ll stay until the ordinance is repealed.
The Dept of Justice has issued a statement of interest in a federal case in Boise, in which seven people sued the city over their conviction for the “crime” of camping. The DOJ in August of 2015 said bans on sleeping in public are unconstitutional.
“Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity- i.e., it must occur at some time in some place,” said the DOJ in a pending case. “If a person literally has nowhere to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.” Such laws, the DOJ says, violate 8th Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, and thus, unconstitutional.
The activists argue that the ban also violates the 4th Amendment, the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.
It’s estimated that there are more than 2,600 homeless people in Sacramento. Depending on availability of shelter beds, as many as 950 sleep outside inevitably.
The Community Dinner Project, the group organizing the protest, has also been illegally feeding the homeless community at the same location for over a year. The weekly community dinners were started in protest to an ordinance requiring a costly permit to serve food on city property.
Anonymous hackers responded to the latest video of police raiding the occupation by releasing personal phone numbers and addresses for members of the Sacramento city council.
You can donate to the Community Dinner Project here: gofundme.com/communitydinnersac
Call the Sacramento City Council and tell them to repeal the camping ban: (916) 808-5407