Loitering Arrests Cost Miami-Dade $300,000 Setlement With ACLU

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 5 Oct 1999 16:44:44 -0700 (PDT)

FWD to HPN From: "Kay Lee & Joe Hart" <mrjah@flakeysol.com>

     Published Saturday, October 2, 1999, in the Miami Herald


     Jasmine Kripalani

Hundreds of Miami-Dade's day laborers went to court in 1996 to claim they
had been wrongfully arrested for standing on street corners in search of
work. On Friday came the first payoffs: $2,000 for every unfair arrest.

A settlement reached this spring between the American Civil Liberties Union
and Miami-Dade County guarantees more than $300,000 will be distributed to
day laborers who were arrested improperly.

Carlos Torres, 39, a handyman who arrived in Miami 19 years ago in the
Mariel boatlift, received a $10,000 check Friday as compensation for five

Torres, the lead plaintiff in the case, said he will use the money to help
pay for a trip to Cuba to visit his sick mother and buy a pickup truck.

``This money will solve a lot of problems for me,'' Torres said. ``I will go
to Cuba to help my mother who had a heart attack a few years ago and has
been recuperating slowly.''

Torres was one of two men who collected their checks Friday at the ACLU
office, 3000 Biscayne Blvd. The rest of the checks were mailed out by the

The settlement approved in April in federal court assures 125 day laborers
will receive payments. Their lawsuit, filed in June 1996, alleged the county
violated the workers' rights to seek employment. It was common practice for
the men to stand along Southwest Eighth Street, between 72nd and 76th
avenues, in hopes that roofing, carpentry or other companies would offer
them a
day's work.

The county law that discourages the labor pool practice allows police to
arrest employers who hire day laborers. The law is aimed at limiting
loitering by those seeking temporary employment.

But police enforced the law incorrectly by arresting laborers instead of the
employers, ACLU lawyers argued.

Andrew Kayton, one of three lawyers representing the laborers, said it took
courage for the men to pursue their case. As part of the case, the ACLU
argued the men were victims of discrimination.

``Everyone represented was in a similar situation,''
Kayton said. ``Every person was a Hispanic, undocumented male, and it's
asking a lot for them to step forward and bring an action against the
government in federal court.''

Dalton Ledford, 23, a participant in the lawsuit,
accepted an $8,000 check after being arrested four times. He plans to open a
cafeteria in Miami.

McReynolds 2000 Committee
"Building a Movement for Jobs, Peace and Freedom"
P.O. Box 91, Floral Park, NY 10012

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