Courts & Crime

ACLU sues Anchorage over removal of homeless camps

City police have wrongly seized and destroyed the property of homeless people who make their camps in Anchorage woods, parks and greenbelts, a new lawsuit contends. The suit calls the city's approach a violation of homeless individuals' constitutional rights.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska takes aim at a city law passed in July that says police can clear out illegal camps from public lands after giving as little as 12 hours' notice.

Then-Police Chief Rob Heun told Anchorage Assembly members last summer that police needed the tool to clear out camps as quickly as possible in the interest of public safety.

If camp occupants don't comply, police officers and a private group they work with can stuff their belongings into trash bags and pile them on the roadside for pickup.

The lawsuit filed in Anchorage Superior Court protests "the pattern, practice and official policy of the municipality of Anchorage to confiscate and destroy the property of Anchorage's homeless residents."

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