ACLU sues Indianapolis, alleges 'unconstitutional' treatment of homeless people

INDIANAPOLIS -- The ACLU of Indiana filed a class action lawsuit Thursday alleging the city of Indianapolis has violated the homeless population’s constitutional rights.

The  complaint stems from an Aug. 4 notice posted by the city requiring homeless people to remove themselves and their things from downtown underpasses within four days.

According to the ACLU, since that time, “homeless persons have been prohibited even from standing or sitting, while the City allows people who are not homeless to remain without interference.”

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The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Maurice Young, a homeless man and advocate in the city, as well as other homeless individuals.

"Homeless people such as Mr. Young deserve respect for their humanity and the full protection of the Constitution," said Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The city of Indianapolis is trying to make an end-run around the Constitution with a permanent state of emergency, but the rule of law still applies."

The ACLU alleges in the lawsuit that the city’s definition of emergency is unconstitutionally vague, as is its prohibition on standing, sitting or otherwise congregating on sidewalks under railroad bridges. The lawsuit also alleges the city’s enforcement of the police only on homeless persons violates the Equal Protection Clause.

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