SACRAMENTO – The City of Sacramento announced very late Wednesday that it would be dismissing all charges against City Hall Homeless Protest organizers James Clark (Faygo) and David Andre scheduled to begin today/Thursday – thereby denying the defendants a chance to expose the city's unlawful and discriminatory "camping" ordinance.
The National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento released this statement:
"Justice is served. David and Faygo are not guilty. However, we had hoped to put forward a case showing that these activists, who happen to be homeless, had their rights violated when they were harassed, arrested and jailed – de facto already punished - by the City of Sacramento. There is no question that City did not want to have its unconstitutional and inhumane "unlawful camping" law litigated in court, and appealed if necessary to a higher court."
The NLG said more than 100 Sacramento police officers and others were on the defense witness list. Civil rights lawyer Mark Merin was leading the defense team. At issue for the defendants – who were charged under Sacramento City's controversial "unlawful camping" ordinance – is whether they have the same 1st Amendment rights as other Americans. The three-month long protest began Dec. 8.
The trials were scheduled to be jury trials, but the City used a technicality to avoid jury trials, thus denying the homeless defendants the right to jury trials.
Defendant James Clark/Faygo released this statement:
"The city has decided to drop charges against me and David Andre. Our defense team had requested all video footage the city and Sacramento Police Dept. had of the entire protest; we subpoenaed about 100 Sacramento PD, had gathered a large number of witnesses and were ready to take this case as far as we could. The city knew they would lose and the ordinance would have possibly been overturned.
"This move by the city shows that it can't fight this in court and win. We are now investigating a civil lawsuit for violation of our constitutional rights. The fight is far from over. What was the point of the city using all those resources to continually make arrests (more than 100 officers during the 3 month occupation), just to drop the charges? How much did this cost the city and taxpayers? How much more will the lawsuit cost them? This is everyone's tax money being squandered - tax money better spent on resources than violating our rights."