[Hpn] Activist Wins Ruling Because of State Lodging Law Loophole;Daily Californian

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Sun, 22 Jul 2001 14:38:19 -0400


-------Forwarded article-------

Friday, July 20, 2001
Daily Californian <<http://www.dailycal.org>
[Berkeley, California]
News section
Activist Wins Ruling Because of State Lodging Law Loophole

--[Photo caption]
Daily Cal Staff/Ian Umeda
Ken Moshesh discusses his victory over his arrest for public lodging.
--[End of photo caption]

Contributing Writer
Friday, July 20, 2001

In a victory for a Berkeley homeless rights activist, an Alameda County 
Superior Court ruled that Berkeley police illegally arrested the homeless 
man for sleeping in a public area, activists announced Wednesday.

The court, in a July 12 ruling, ruled that a state law prohibiting lodging 
in public places was too vague. Ken Moshesh, a homeless former UC Berkeley 
ethnic studies lecturer and associate professor, will escape six months of 
jail time.

Moshesh was arrested in January for sleeping on Berkeley streets, his second 
arrest in a year for public lodging.

The decision was a personal victory for Moshesh, said Greg Syren, the public 
defender who represented him.

Syren said the court based its decision on the fact that the anti-lodging 
law is only enforced against homeless people.

Osha Neumann, a local attorney, said the term "lodging," as stated in the 
law, is too vague.

Neumann said UC Berkeley students napping on the campus lawn could also be 
violating the law based on the way the police interpret the situation, 
Neumann said.

"Police don't know what lodging is," Neumann said. "They pick and choose 
(who they arrest)."

While homeless rights activists said the ruling proves that the state's 
anti-lodging law is unconstitutional, local police said the ruling will not 
overturn state law.

Berkeley Police Lt. Russell Lopes said that until the city attorney's office 
intervenes, the ruling will have no effect on the way Berkeley police 
enforce the law.

"As long as the statute remains in the books, it will continue to be 
enforced," Lopes said.

Despite Moshesh's victory, Syren said he could still be arrested for the 
same offense in the future if he lodges in another public area.

But Moshesh and homeless advocates said they hope his case, which gives 
homeless people legal status, will set a precedent for similar cases in the 
future. He described this victory as "one in a number of steps" for homeless 

"Ken's case is hopefully going to change how homeless people are treated on 
the streets," said Leroy Moore, founder of the Disabled Advocates of 
Minorities Organization.

Moshesh was arrested for the same offense on the UC Berkeley campus last 
October. He was convicted and sentenced to jail for five days, and put on a 
two-year probation that banned him from the campus.

Moshesh is active in the homeless community, writing books and poetry and 
producing videos to promote the rights of the homeless.

He also writes for POOR Magazine and is a member of the Berkeley Homeless 

Moshesh believes he was targeted because he has a strong voice in the 

"They were trying to quiet a person who was making a little too much noise," 
Moshesh said.

Despite the arrests, Moshesh said he will continue living on the streets, in 
what he calls "San Berkoland," referring collectively to San Francisco, 
Berkeley and Oakland.

The Alameda County District Attorney's office may file an appeal to the 
court ruling.

The ruling comes amid controversy with the Berkeley City Council over how to 
enforce the state's anti-public lodging law. In a decision hailed by 
homeless activists, the council voted in April to make enforcement of the 
law a low priority in Berkeley.

E-mail: dailycal@dailycal.org


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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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