You'd think the homeless, pushing around shopping carts piled high with garbage bags and crumbling electronics, would be fairly low on the list of people to steal from.

But there is one group of folks who supposedly can't stop taking and destroying their stuff.


According to a class-action lawsuit filed recently in federal court, eight homeless guys, representing 3,000 homeless living along Skid Row, are suing the City of Los Angeles for continually confiscating and destroying their property without notice or due process.

The homeless men say Public Works and LAPD workers have taken and demolished their medicine, clothing, personal papers, family photos and portable electronics.

Tony Lavan, for example, says he was at the Union Rescue Mission taking a shower when his belongings were taken. He claims he had left his property unattended for only 30 minutes.

Byron Reese, another homeless man suing the city, says he left his cart for just a few minutes to use a restroom, but when he returned, he found an LAPD officer with a skip loader hauling his trusty cart away.

The homeless plaintiffs claim that their property is taken by city workers at the direction of LAPD as part of an ongoing practice targeting those without homes on Skid Row.

“The only reason for this policy,” according to the lawsuit, first reported by Courthouse News Service, “is to destroy the property of individuals … who are homeless and who are regarded by the city as nothing more than garbage to be removed from city streets.”

This is hardly the first time that homeless folks have taken up this battle against the city.

Court injunctions were ordered against the city in 1987 and 2000, according to the lawsuit, prohibiting city workers from confiscating and destroying homeless people's property without due process.

“Despite these repeated injunctions and actions against the city,” states the lawsuit, “once again, the most vulnerable population in our community comes to court to request yet another order directing the city to stop seizing and demolishing the few belongings they have left.”

LA Weekly