Judge temporarily forbids BART from evicting residents of South Berkeley homeless encampment

Ciecie Chen/File

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Residents of a South Berkeley homeless encampment who were facing eviction by BART have now been temporarily granted permission to stay on the property because of a judge’s ruling Tuesday.

BART Police Department posted eviction notices at two South Berkeley homeless encampments Saturday, ordering the residents to permanently vacate the area within 72 hours. Several members of the “Here There” encampment, one of the two homeless encampments threatened with eviction, filed a lawsuit against BART on Monday. In the complaint, the residents requested that the judge establish “an arrest free zone” around the encampment to protect residents from being evicted by BART officers.

“If plaintiffs are forced to move, homeless people who have no alternate shelter would be forced into the elements without shelter, causing irreperable injury,” the residents said in the complaint. “We seek an injunctive relief enjoining defendant and their agents from arresting plaintiffs or removing personal items and/or preventing conduct by plaintiffs to sleep, eat, and maintain shelter at the property.”

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled Tuesday that BART is “temporarily enjoined from removing any persons or possessions” from the “Here There”† encampment, according to the scheduling order. Alsup determined that the plaintiffs will have to file an amended complaint and motion by Oct. 26, while BART will have to file its response by Oct. 30. A hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion will take place Oct. 31 about 9 a.m.

Clark Sullivan, a resident of the Here/There encampment and one of the plaintiffs listed in the complaint, said he considered the judge’s ruling to be a “win” for the encampment residents. He added that he and his fellow encampment residents decided to file the suit because they’ve lived in the encampment for nine months and felt that BART’s 72-hour deadline was “short notice.”

“We have to, at some point, resist,” Sullivan said. “When people are homeless, they’re always being pushed around all the time by the law. Basically, when you’re homeless, you don’t have any rights. … This (lawsuit) is kind of like, ‘Yes, you can resist.’ ”

Chantelle Lee is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.