[2/16/17] The City of Santa Ana has come up with an innovative and despotic way of keeping their homeless population in check — imprison them. The city is now party to a federal lawsuit over unreasonable seizure, false imprisonment, and due process violations.
Heading up the lawsuit on behalf of Michael Diehl, who has lived at the encampment for three years, is the ACLU of Southern California. The lawsuit demands the immediate removal of the 6-foot-tall chain-link fences penning in 75-100 people and their belongings.
“Defendants’ actions have not only illegally restricted the liberty of the homeless people living in the encampment, but it has also cut them off from access to food, water, and medical care thus threatening their health and well-being,” the lawsuit states.
According to Courthouse News:
Diehl was shot in the head at a Tustin convenience store in 2009. He lost his right eye and doctors were unable to remove the bullet from his head. He takes medication every day to control seizures that have become more frequent with the increased presence of authorities at the encampment, he says in the complaint.
When a woman suffered a seizure at the encampment after the fence was erected, Diehl says, paramedics had difficulty reaching her because the barriers have blocked parts of the sidewalks at Chapman Avenue and Orangewood Avenue where people used to come and go.
If people living at the encampment cut holes in the fences with bolt cutters, Orange County Public Works employees repair it. For the elderly and disabled it is neither safe nor realistic to scale the fence or navigate the river to get to a steep, rocky embankment on the river’s west side, Diehl says.
“Children, people with severe disabilities, the elderly and others are deprived of food, water and access to restrooms,” said ACLU homelessness policy analyst Eve Garrow. “The county should take action to rectify this egregious violation of basic human rights.”