Federal judge allows homeless groups in Berkeley to bring class action lawsuit against city

Federal judge allows homeless groups in Berkeley to bring class action lawsuit against city

A judge for the US District Court of the Northern District of California [official website] ruled [order, PDF] Tuesday that homeless groups may pursue a class action lawsuit against the city of Berkeley, California.

Plaintiffs, who identify themselves as members of the homeless activist group “First They Came for the Homeless” (FTCftH), filed suit against the city of Berkeley following the city’s crackdown over homeless communities in the Berkeley area. FTCftH describes itself a “protest encampment.” It aims to raise awareness of the city’s treatment of homeless population, and promote fair housing rights.

In its lawsuit, FTCftH claims the city has violated Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by forcibly seizing shelters and belongings. FTCftH also argues the city police’s repeated crackdowns on their communities represent directed acts of targeting that violates their First Amendment rights.

Judge William Alsup of the US District Court denied FTCftH’s claims based on the First Amendment, and upheld the group’s claims under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The judge ordered the claim to continue.