[Hpn] Nonexistant law used to bust homeless

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Wed, 06 Dec 2006 04:00:46 -0500


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Dec. 05, 2006

Copyright =A9 Las Vegas Review-Journal=20

Arrests prompt activists' outcry=20

Nonexistent law used to bust homeless=20

http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Dec-05-Tue-2006/news/11227014=
.html

By LYNNETTE CURTIS=20
REVIEW-JOURNAL=20
Las Vegas city marshals jailed three homeless men last week for =
violating a non-existent ordinance, and advocates for the homeless =
contend it is the latest example of how the city is "waging a war =
against the homeless."

The section of a Las Vegas ordinance that made sleeping near a "deposit" =
of feces or urine illegal was passed unanimously in August by the City =
Council but was repealed in September. Still, city marshals arrested =
three men on the charge on Nov. 26. The men told several people they had =
spent the night in jail before a judge dismissed the charges against =
them.

The men had been sleeping in Frank Wright Park across from City Hall =
when the marshals rousted them. The men told activists that marshals =
said the "deposit" in question was a pile of feces on the front steps of =
the historic downtown post office that abuts the park.

The city issued a five-sentence statement Monday in response to =
questions about the arrests and said the trio had been charged =
mistakenly "under a city ordinance approved on August 16 that dealt with =
urinating and defecating in public."=20

"While this ordinance had made it illegal to sleep within 500 feet of =
human urine or feces, the ordinance was revised to remove that provision =
on September 20," the statement said. "Officers were advised following =
the passage of the ordinance in August that they should not enforce that =
provision."

The statement concluded: "The Department of Detention and Enforcement =
has launched an internal investigation into why these arrests occurred."

The three homeless men could not be reached for comment, and the city =
did not release their names Monday. The city refused to comment further =
on the incident.

Gail Sacco, an advocate for the homeless, had a copy of Detention and =
Enforcement's temporary custody record for one of the men. It identified =
him as 46-year-old Jerry Lee Halfpap Jr. and said he was charged with =
"sleeping 500 feet from feces." She could not identify the others.

City jail booking records for Nov. 26 said that Halfpap, 44-year-old =
David Arthur Hicks and 66-year-old Eastman N. Webber were all arrested =
at the same time by David Payne and jailed on a charge of "offensive =
things."

The Aug. 16 version of the city ordinance contained a provision that =
made it illegal to "knowingly establish" temporary, portable or open =
sleeping quarters within 500 feet of any deposit of urine or feces, =
unless that deposit is made in an appropriate sanitary facility -- =
presumably not the steps of the historic downtown post office.=20

Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic said in August that the =
sleeping-near-feces provision got into the ordinance by mistake and =
would not be enforced.

Advocates for the homeless and civil rights leaders said Monday that the =
arrests, with the recent closure of Huntridge Circle Park and the =
passage of another city ordinance that forbade the feeding of indigent =
people in public parks, prove that the city is targeting homeless =
people.

"I'm almost speechless by the continuous harassment of a group of people =
who, for the most part, are more harmful to themselves than to anyone =
else," Linda Lera-Randle El, director of Straight from the Streets, =
said. "The city should be embarrassed. I don't know why they they're not =
wearing paper bags over their heads. In the 20-plus years I have worked =
on this issue, I have never witnessed an administration that appears to =
be this gung-ho on targeting one population."

Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of =
Nevada, said the erroneous arrests were at best incompetent and, at =
worst, "they (city officials) are not altogether honest about what =
they're up to."

"You've got a law that the city attorney and the city council agreed was =
unconstitutional, and you had assurances made that it would not be =
enforced," Peck said. "The facts indicate that the city has been waging =
a war on the homeless."

Sacco, who often feeds homeless people in city parks, said it was =
"crazy" that the marshals did not know about the change in the =
ordinance.

"They are on the warpath" against the homeless, she said.

City Manager Doug Selby ordered Huntridge Circle Park, a daytime hangout =
for the homeless, closed Nov. 27, citing safety concerns and the fatal =
stabbing of a homeless man in the park.=20

Several protesters later were arrested for refusing to leave the park.

A city ordinance banning giving food to indigents was declared =
unconstitutional last month.



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<DIV><FONT size=3D1>Dec. 05, 2006</FONT></DIV><FONT size=3D1>
<DIV><BR>Copyright =A9 Las Vegas Review-Journal=20
<BR><BR><!-- plsfield:HEADLINE --></FONT><FONT face=3Dverdana,arial=20
size=3D4><B>Arrests prompt activists' outcry </B></FONT><BR><BR><FONT=20
face=3Dverdana,arial size=3D3><B>Nonexistent law used to bust homeless=20
</B></FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Dec-05-Tue-2006/news/=
11227014.html">http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Dec-05-Tue-200=
6/news/11227014.html</A></FONT><BR><BR><FONT=20
face=3D"verdana, arial" size=3D1><A=20
href=3D"http://www.reviewjournal.com/about/print/rjstaff.html">By =
LYNNETTE CURTIS=20
<BR>REVIEW-JOURNAL </A></FONT><!-- Sidebar2 Table --><!-- =
startclickprintexclude --><!-- endclickprintexclude --><!-- =
plsfield:STORY --></DIV>
<P>Las Vegas city marshals jailed three homeless men last week for =
violating a=20
non-existent ordinance, and advocates for the homeless contend it is the =
latest=20
example of how the city is "waging a war against the homeless."</P>
<P>The section of a Las Vegas ordinance that made sleeping near a =
"deposit" of=20
feces or urine illegal was passed unanimously in August by the City =
Council but=20
was repealed in September. Still, city marshals arrested three men on =
the charge=20
on Nov. 26. The men told several people they had spent the night in jail =
before=20
a judge dismissed the charges against them.</P><!-- =
startclickprintexclude --><!-- endclickprintexclude -->
<P>The men had been sleeping in Frank Wright Park across from City Hall =
when the=20
marshals rousted them. The men told activists that marshals said the =
"deposit"=20
in question was a pile of feces on the front steps of the historic =
downtown post=20
office that abuts the park.</P>
<P>The city issued a five-sentence statement Monday in response to =
questions=20
about the arrests and said the trio had been charged mistakenly "under a =
city=20
ordinance approved on August 16 that dealt with urinating and defecating =
in=20
public." </P>
<P>"While this ordinance had made it illegal to sleep within 500 feet of =
human=20
urine or feces, the ordinance was revised to remove that provision on =
September=20
20," the statement said. "Officers were advised following the passage of =
the=20
ordinance in August that they should not enforce that provision."</P>
<P>The statement concluded: "The Department of Detention and Enforcement =
has=20
launched an internal investigation into why these arrests occurred."</P>
<P>The three homeless men could not be reached for comment, and the city =
did not=20
release their names Monday. The city refused to comment further on the=20
incident.</P>
<P>Gail Sacco, an advocate for the homeless, had a copy of Detention and =

Enforcement's temporary custody record for one of the men. It identified =
him as=20
46-year-old Jerry Lee Halfpap Jr. and said he was charged with "sleeping =
500=20
feet from feces." She could not identify the others.</P>
<P>City jail booking records for Nov. 26 said that Halfpap, 44-year-old =
David=20
Arthur Hicks and 66-year-old Eastman N. Webber were all arrested at the =
same=20
time by David Payne and jailed on a charge of "offensive things."</P>
<P>The Aug. 16 version of the city ordinance contained a provision that =
made it=20
illegal to "knowingly establish" temporary, portable or open sleeping =
quarters=20
within 500 feet of any deposit of urine or feces, unless that deposit is =
made in=20
an appropriate sanitary facility -- presumably not the steps of the =
historic=20
downtown post office. </P>
<P>Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic said in August that the=20
sleeping-near-feces provision got into the ordinance by mistake and =
would not be=20
enforced.</P>
<P>Advocates for the homeless and civil rights leaders said Monday that =
the=20
arrests, with the recent closure of Huntridge Circle Park and the =
passage of=20
another city ordinance that forbade the feeding of indigent people in =
public=20
parks, prove that the city is targeting homeless people.</P>
<P>"I'm almost speechless by the continuous harassment of a group of =
people who,=20
for the most part, are more harmful to themselves than to anyone else," =
Linda=20
Lera-Randle El, director of Straight from the Streets, said. "The city =
should be=20
embarrassed. I don't know why they they're not wearing paper bags over =
their=20
heads. In the 20-plus years I have worked on this issue, I have never =
witnessed=20
an administration that appears to be this gung-ho on targeting one=20
population."</P>
<P>Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union =
of=20
Nevada, said the erroneous arrests were at best incompetent and, at =
worst, "they=20
(city officials) are not altogether honest about what they're up =
to."</P>
<P>"You've got a law that the city attorney and the city council agreed =
was=20
unconstitutional, and you had assurances made that it would not be =
enforced,"=20
Peck said. "The facts indicate that the city has been waging a war on =
the=20
homeless."</P>
<P>Sacco, who often feeds homeless people in city parks, said it was =
"crazy"=20
that the marshals did not know about the change in the ordinance.</P>
<P>"They are on the warpath" against the homeless, she said.</P>
<P>City Manager Doug Selby ordered Huntridge Circle Park, a daytime =
hangout for=20
the homeless, closed Nov. 27, citing safety concerns and the fatal =
stabbing of a=20
homeless man in the park. </P>
<P>Several protesters later were arrested for refusing to leave the =
park.</P>
<P>A city ordinance banning giving food to indigents was declared=20
unconstitutional last month.</P><!-- endclickprintinclude --><FONT =
face=3DArial=20
size=3D2>
<DIV><BR></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV></BODY></HTML>

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