Fresno – A federal judge announced today his intention to issue a preliminary injunction stopping the City of Fresno from unlawfully destroying the personal property of thousands of homeless residents. The lawsuit, Kincaid v. City of Fresno, was filed in October and claims that the City has been violating the constitutional rights of homeless people by seizing and immediately destroying their personal property. Last month, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting this practice. Today’s ruling will remain in effect until the case goes to trial or is settled.
The City has carried out numerous raids of areas where homeless people live, destroying their personal belongings, according to the complaint filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the ACLU of Northern California and the law firm of Heller Ehrman, LLP. The judge found that in these raids city workers unlawfully destroy clothing, medication, tents and blankets, as well as irreplaceable personal possessions such as family photographs, personal records and documents. The raids are carried out by Fresno's Police and Sanitation workers, who use bulldozers and garbage trucks to seize tents and shopping carts full of personal belongings, usually crushing them on the spot, often with the homeless owners watching and protesting.