Imagine that you are homeless in Detroit. You have an area where you know you are safe, where you can find food and shelter if you ask. Now imagine that a cop grabs you from the street, throws you into a van, drives you to the edge of the city or even a suburb and then kicks you out. That’s what the ACLU is accusing the Detroit PD of doing.: they filed a complaint with the Justice Department against the DPB this week.
The complaint comes at the end of a year-long investigation into claims that the department routinely drove homeless people to areas unfamiliar to them, leaving them to get back on their own. They will approach homeless people, especially in tourist areas like Greektown, force them into vans and drive them miles away, the complaint alleges. Sometimes the officers would even take what little money they had, leaving them with no recourse but to walk back to the city. Sometimes the homeless victims would even be left in neighboring towns and suburbs like Dearborn and River Rouge.
Speaking for the ACLU of Michigan, staff attorney Sarah Mehta told the local CBS affiliate:
“DPD’s practice of essentially kidnapping homeless people and abandoning them miles away from the neighborhoods they know – with no means for a safe return — is inhumane, callous and illegal. The city’s desire to hide painful reminders of our economic struggles cannot justify discriminating against the poor, banishing them from their city, and endangering their lives. A person who has lost his home has not lost his right to be treated with dignity.” (source)