Residents of shelters, streets and cheap motels in Sacramento began collecting checks ranging from $400 to $750 this week over property that Sacramento police officers have seized and destroyed during raids on illegal campsites since 2005, reports the Sacramento Bee. The payments resolve an unusual class-action lawsuit charging that Sacramento police stomped on the constitutional rights of homeless people by grabbing their belongings and throwing them away without giving the owners a chance to get them back.
The resolution will cost the city $796,050 in payments to 1,143 people who lost personal property including tents, lanterns, prescription medications, and family photographs, said civil rights attorney Mark Merin. The city also will be responsible for “substantial” legal fees he estimated at $1.8 million. The complicated process that ended this week with check distribution began after a federal jury found that the city failed to notify homeless people about how to retrieve their possessions after sweeps of illegal campsites, and failed to implement policies for handling that property.