The ACLU of Vermont, along with cooperating attorneys Jared Carter and Gary Sarachan, has filed a class action complaint on behalf of Brian Croteau, Larry Priest, and other homeless Burlington residents, contesting "evictions" the city uses to displace homeless residents from camps established on public land, even though the residents have nowhere else to go.

Since at least 2014, the City of Burlington has used Vermont's no trespass statute to repeatedly threaten to arrest homeless residents and seize and destroy their property when they are found sleeping on public property, despite City officials acknowledging that local shelters are full.

Punishing individuals for sleeping in public when they have nowhere else to go violates the Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, and seizing and destroying personal property at encampments without due process violates the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the guarantee of due process.

The case is pending, but Burlington has already improved some of its policies, including new protocols for the treatment of seized property.

Status

Filed

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