Activists protest Murray’s sweep of “The Jungle” last year. Photo by Casey Jaywork.

ACLU WA Asks for Restraining Order to Stop Seattle Homeless Sweeps

The civil liberties group is already suing Seattle over the sweeps, arguing they violate the Constitution.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to stop Seattle and state officials from grabbing and trashing homeless people’s property, according to a press release. The motion is part of the lawsuit the ACLU has filed on behalf of two homeless people, the Episcopal Diocese, and Real Change newspaper. In that suit, they argue that Seattle’s homeless sweeps violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to due process.

From the press release:

“The violations of rights have continued unabated since the Plaintiffs sued the City and WSDOT on January 19, 2017. For example, on January 26, during one of the coldest months of the year, Plaintiff Brandie Osborne was told without notice that she had to pack up everything she owned and leave her place of residence within 30 minutes. When Ms. Osborne explained that she had been provided no notice, she was told that Defendants did not have to issue notice. Because Ms. Osborne could not move everything in such a short time, many of her belongings were destroyed.

“The Defendants have recently doubled down on their illegal policies and practices. On January 31, without any consultation or outreach to the Plaintiffs, the City proposed new rules that would enable it to remove without notice the belongings of virtually any unhoused person on City- owned or City-controlled property or many of the other areas where homeless encampments currently exist. Moreover, the Defendants’ ongoing practices demonstrate that even if they were to adopt official policies and procedures that comply with constitutional rights, there is no guarantee that Defendants actually would follow them without a court order.”

The ACLU is not alone in objecting to homeless sweeps on constitutional grounds. In 2015, the Department of Justice argued that cities which do not provide adequate shelter space to homeless people have “ordinances [which] amount to the criminalization of homelessness,” in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. We’ve argued previously that sweeps are both immoral and impractical.

More in News & Comment

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

Two Issaquah High School students are under investigation after a racially insensitive photo surfaced over the weekend. Courtesy photo
Racially insensitive sign sparks investigation in Issaquah

High school students under investigation after Tolo photo goes viral.

Snohomish family detained by Border Patrol while on vacation

Little information has been provided since they were arrested Thursday near Tucson, Arizona.

Yaaah! Hipster Gregr of ‘Nerd Talk’ escapes city life

The morning host of radio station 107.7 The End has traded the Seattle vibe for Snohomish living.

Gov. Jay Inslee shakes hands with Dinah Griffey after signing Senate Bill 5649 on April 19. The law revises the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Hits and misses from Legislature’s 2019 session

New laws target vaccines, sex crimes and daylight savings; losers include sex ed and dwarf tossing bills.

If Inslee only knew, he might have run for president sooner

The governor isn’t a great dealmaker. His absences from Olympia may be helping get his bills passed.

Scott Barden stands next to the pit that will house the newest, and possibly final, section of the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Maple Valley. The pit is 120 feet deep, and around another 180 feet will be built on top of it over the next decade. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
King County’s landfill is going to get bigger

A ninth cell will be built, extending its life by another decade.

An aircraft is pictured at King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County wants to end deportation flights for ICE

Legal challenge expected from federal government.

USPS district manager Darrell Stoke, Janie Hendrix and Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) unveil the plaque honorarily naming the Renton Highlands Post Office as the “James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office” on Friday, April 19. Photo by Haley Ausbun
Renton Highlands Post Office honors Jimi Hendrix

Postal Service connected Hendrix to family during his Army service.

Most Read