Homeless activist Guy ‘Mike’ Lee sues the city of Berkeley


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Local homeless activist Guy “Mike” Lee is filing two small claims lawsuits alleging that the city of Berkeley violated his constitutional rights during homeless encampment disbandments.

Lee is a member of First They Came for the Homeless, an activist group that peacefully protests insufficient homeless services in Berkeley. His small claims suits allege that the city of Berkeley violated the First Amendment by disbanding his encampment, which was set up as a protest.

One of Lee’s small claims complaints stated Berkeley Police Department and others arrived Oct. 7, 2016 at approximately 5 a.m. to disband an encampment at Fairview and Adeline streets organized by First They Came for the Homeless, where they allegedly confiscated and later destroyed property. City officials allege that homeless encampments constitute illegal lodging on public property and violate Berkeley Municipal Code.

“The police department were not there to stop crime, they were there to stop the protest,” Lee alleged.

Lee said blankets, tents, clothing, prescription drugs, food and valuable electronics were among the items allegedly disposed of. He is filing two small claims for his losses, both of which are asking for $10,000.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko has previously said that items confiscated from disbandments are held at the city’s Transfer Station where they can be picked up by owners. Chakko declined to comment specifically on Lee’s lawsuits.

On Feb. 24, the Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness discussed potential new amendments to city policies on homeless encampment disbandments after members of First They Came for the Homeless threatened to file a class-action lawsuit. The proposed policies aim to improve notification processes about forthcoming disbandments and offer more resources to assist encampment residents in the transition into shelters and housing, according to a memo from Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

Lee, however, has previously said he doesn’t feel that the proposed policies will change the way the city interacts with the homeless.

Lee recently resigned from his position as a homeless commissioner after he alleged he was repeatedly ignored and interrupted by other commissioners.

“A lot of times you have to present the reality of (homelessness) with kid-gloves because if you don’t people will become very offended,” Lee said. “When you are responsible for funding programs but you can’t deal with the reality of homelessness then whatever you come up with is crazy and nonsense.”

Lee said his legal strategy is to file 15 separate federal lawsuits in the future. He said he will continue protesting until he and other homeless people receive the services and affordable housing they need. He added that homeless people need to have a voice in the city.


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  • Princess Swan

    Mike Lee is not only a fake, but has paid the Berkeley Police department to arrest anyone who disagree with him. He has stolen things from the homeless camp that were for people who needed things like jackets and warm clothes only to throw them away elsewhere.

  • ShockTheVote

    Professional Bums get Lawyad Up to take on “The Man” and rob the Victim Taxpayers

    • Sam Spade

      I’m a professional protest get your facts right

      • lspanker

        You’re a “professional” yet you certainly can’t make a living at it, can you?

  • jim hoch

    This is the guy who claimed that there was no drug problem among the homeless, that they used the same as anyone else. His credibility is 0.

    • Sam Spade

      Never claimed that

      • jim hoch

        You are correct, it was his colleague at First They Came For the Homeless, Mike Zint.

        “Mike Zint, co-founder of the advocacy group First They Came For the Homeless, said although drug addiction is a major issue in the homeless community, it occurs just as much among people who are housed.

        “The difference is visibility,” Zint said in an email. “Because (this drug use) is visible in all its ugliness for the public to judge, persecution of all homeless is occurring.””

  • flashsteve

    Isn’t there a law regarding filing frivolous lawsuits, and consequences (say, homeless encampment remediation) for those who violate the statute? Mr. Lee has too much time on his hands.

    • Sam Spade

      Yep the city has nothing to do with it’s time except to chase me Now I’m running to court

  • Disqusted

    If your car is towed you pay a storage fee. Mike Lee should be a storage bill, and be cited for littering.

  • Kevin Dinkelspiel-Chang

    This is the greatest state of the greatest country in the world. There is no room for losers like Mr. Lee.

    • Henry Waterman

      Actually, you shouldn’t go boasting about saying that we are the greatest country. Also, California is far from the greatest state. Third of all everything Mike Lee was doing is legal, the police came and broke up his peaceful protest and confiscated his belongings, which break the first and fourth amendment. Think before you speak. Our country is a lot more screwed up than you think.

      • lspanker

        It’s only “screwed up” because gullible arse-clowns like you shed tears over the likes of Mike Lee and the rest of his vagrant little mob…

        • Henry Waterman

          Actually, America is only “screwed up” because of rednecks like you sitting in the southern in the swamps voting for trump and complaining over peaceful protests.

          • lspanker

            I’m a native Californian and Cal grad. I live in the SF Bay Area and didn’t vote for Trump. Now care to deal with facts, or do you just want to spread the usual nonsense?

            As I mentioned previously (and as other posters here on NUMEROUS occasions), Mike Lee was housed and gainfully employed elsewhere, but gave up both of those on his own free will to relocate to Berkeley and sponge off of others. He’s not some poor local who lost his job or suddenly became disabled or somehow “fell through the cracks”. He chooses to be a mooch, and gets away with it to some extent because of uninformed, gullible people like you who give him sympathy that is ill-deserved.

  • lspanker

    Mike Lee was previously housed and gainfully employed in Las Vegas, NV before showing up in Berkeley to get freebies. He has been offered shelter space on numerous occasions but has turned it down because it wasn’t to his particular liking. Time to tell Mike Lee to hit the road and go back to where he came from…