Sacramento Sued for Removing a Portable Toilet

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Several homeless individuals have filed a lawsuit against the city of Sacramento and its police department, claiming that police officers removed a portable toilet from a downtown campsite.

The lawsuit, which hopes to reach class-action status, seeks a court order to prevent the city from removing a port-a-potty that has replaced the one that was removed earlier.

“While politicians fret and pay consultants to plan and advise, but still neither provide shelter or restrooms, a few private citizens have stepped up to (plate) and service port-a-potties where homeless encampments have sprung up,” the lawsuit says. “What does the city do? Order the portable toilets removed endangering public health and depriving the homeless people who use the port-a-potties of dignity and the opportunity to dispose of their human waste in sanitary fashion.”

The lawsuit says that a compassionate private citizen hired a company to put a portable toilet near the camp on Jan. 16 and maintain it.

“For nine days members of the Hopeful Community celebrated the presence of the port-a-potty, used it, kept it clean, and felt more human and dignified by the presence and accessibility of the convenience,” the lawsuit alleges. “Then, after nine days, abruptly and without notice, the port-a-potty was removed on orders of the Sacramento City Police and the Hopeful Community was crushed and dejected.”

After that removal, a group had another toilet placed on the site, “-to protect the right of homeless people to dispose of their waste in a dignified and sanitary fashion.”

Police spokesman Karl Chan said that in order for a portable toilet to be placed on public property, it would have to go through a permit process with the city.

The suit argues that the city violated homeless residents’ right to privacy, right to bodily integrity and that its actions constitute “punishment for involuntary and life-sustaining activity.”

Sacramento homeless activists have been asking city and county officials to install more bathrooms and showers for the homeless for a while now.

The City Council has approved a plan to open a bathroom facility downtown at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

A good number of homeless people use the bathrooms at a large homeless service provider, Loaves and Fishes, but it closes at 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and isn’t open on weekends.

 

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