Martinez et al v. The City of Fresno
On March 16, 2022, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California (“ACLU”) filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Fresno, urging the court to strike down a city ordinance that targets unhoused people, and puts unconstitutional restrictions on advocates, organizers, and reporters who try to draw attention to how the unhoused are treated during encampment sweeps. In February 2022, city officials amended an existing ordinance to create a buffer zone around abatement activity, like encampment sweeps, taking place on public property. Anyone who enters the off-limits area “without express authorization” from the city can now be charged with a misdemeanor or fined up to $250.
This outrageously broad ordinance is a direct assault not just on our plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, but on everyone’s rights.
The ACLU and the California Homeless Union, represented by the Law Offices of Anthony D. Prince, filed the complaint in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California on behalf of Dez Martinez, a longtime advocate who was once unhoused, Robert McCloskey, a reporter and activist, the Fresno Homeless Union, and Faith in the Valley. The lawsuit seeks to stop the ordinance from going into effect on March 31 and ultimately to get it voided altogether.
On March 30, 2022, the ACLU and the California Homeless Union filed a motion for preliminary injunction to ask the Court to prohibit the City of Fresno from enforcing the ordinance and conducting nuisance abatements under the ordinance. In response, the City of Fresno moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Court has scheduled a hearing on the preliminary injunction for Wednesday, May 11.