ALERT: 5 arrested protesting homeless sweeps - ACLU sues

Tom Boland (
Fri, 24 Dec 1999 02:03:26 -0800 (PST)

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PLEASE CIRCULATE this alert to people who support civil liberties:
FWD  Associated Press - Thursday December 23, 1999 11:45 PM ET


     By M.R. KROPKO Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late
Thursday to prevent police from arresting homeless people sleeping in some
parts of the city.

However, the judge allowed police to continue removing the homeless from a
downtown area that includes Public Square, where five people protesting the
new policy were arrested early Thursday after refusing to leave a makeshift
tent village.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Thursday in response to
the arrests.<p>Mayor Michael R. White announced late last month that police
would step up enforcement aimed at panhandlers and street crime, but
advocates for the homeless say the crackdown is actually aimed at the
city's estimated 3,000 homeless people.

White's move followed an announcement by New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani
that street people who refuse to move along when ordered by New York police
would be arrested.

The ACLU lawsuit, filed on behalf of four homeless men in Cleveland,
alleges that by preventing homeless people from sleeping on city property,
the city violates the Constitution.

``The people who end up on city streets are using steam grates just to stay
alive,'' said Ray Vasvari, the ACLU's Ohio legal director. ``The action by
the city criminalizes homelessness.''

City Safety Director Henry Guzman said the people arrested Thursday morning
didn't have a permit to be in the park and their heaters posed a safety

``It is clear that the city's enforcement effort is not only legal, it is
humanitarian,'' said Law Director Cornell Carter.


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