San Diego Officials Sued For Violating Homeless Constitutional Rights

San Diego officials are facing a federal class action lawsuit, accused of violating the constitutional rights of homeless individuals by clearing out encampments and discarding their possessions. The lawsuit, which may be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, alleges that these actions infringe on the due process and equal protection rights of the homeless.

The lawsuit claims that the encampment sweeps, ordered in East County, were conducted without adequate notice, resulting in the loss of valuable personal property. Among the items cited in the lawsuit were a woman’s walker, and the cremated ashes of her son and husband. In another case, a woman reported that workers disposed of birth certificates, photographs, jewelry, and her daughter’s first tooth.

Homeless advocate Michael McConnell criticized the officials’ actions, stating, “They just keep wanting to keep kicking people while they’re down… It is crushing.” McConnell highlighted the lack of shelter and storage options for the homeless, arguing that the sweeps exacerbate the crisis rather than alleviate it.

The lawsuit also alleges that some police officers involved in the sweeps sorted through possessions to steal valuable items. “Defendants’ actions are making the homelessness crisis worse,” the lawsuit claims, adding that the constant threats of criminal punishment for being poor and unhoused reflect a deep misunderstanding of the issue.

Homeless individuals are reportedly ordered to remove their property without being provided with alternative options. McConnell pointed out the lack of affordable housing and shelter spaces in the region, stating, “I don’t think in any part of the region is there enough shelter for folks to get off the streets and have a safe place to store their belongings.”

The lawsuit seeks the return of the discarded possessions and unspecified compensation for the affected individuals. The officials named as defendants have not commented on the matter.

This case could set a significant precedent as the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide a similar case later this year. “Unfortunately, it just does absolutely nothing to help solve this issue, and it just puts people in more dire straits trying to get out of it,” McConnell said.