Two Arrested at Rough Roust of Homeless at Camp in Sacramento

By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Rumors Wednesday here at a dramatic raid of a large homeless camp suggested that it would be a “gentler” action than other rousts of the homeless, focused more on helping the homeless and preserving some of their dignity.

Not the case at all.

There were two arrests, demonstrators and news media were roughly pushed around by law enforcement. and one woman’s arm was reportedly broken, and she was taken away in an ambulance.

Around 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, shortly after a Sacramento County Supervisor left the scene at 5700 Stockton Blvd in south Sacramento, an estimated two dozen Sacramento County sheriff cruisers and 40-60 black-clad deputies descended on about 125 homeless residents in the makeshift campground.

In a few hours, more sheriff vehicles and SWAT team – along with dump trucks, the “claw” and other vehicles – would join the fray to almost completely transform the camp to the barren lot it was before homeless, with nowhere else to go, “adopted” it.

But it wasn’t without some real tension. Dozens of protestors blocked the gates leading into the former motel, but the overwhelming force of baton-wielding, riot-clad deputies eventually closed the gates and padlocked them shut.

That was, though, only after a tense standoff at the steel gates that advocates held open for a long while. They left when they were about to be arrested.

As to who asked the Sheriff’s Dept. to make such a show of force – the dragnet closed down Stockton Blvd. from Fruitridge south for several blocks virtually all day – wasn’t clear.

Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, who was at the site before 8 a.m. and later came back after lunch, said he would “own” part of it. But it appeared the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) and maybe the county asked the Sheriff to roust the unwanted residents.

“This (site) wasn’t sustainable, but I understand now there is a new self-governing group for the homeless here (and) I have my eyes on this site,” said Kennedy standing in front of the Stockton Blvd. site, heavily-guarded by dozens of deputies later Wednesday.

Kennedy agreed to meet with that homeless self-governing group, other community members and civil rights lawyer Mark Merin later this week to discuss “possibilities”

“We urge you to work with the community provide a safeground…people here don’t want a tent city but they need a first step,” said Merin, who, trying to broker a deal, called for a “political leadership decision” in a “rational way” to find a place for the homeless to call home.

“What’s happening today is no solution at all, and no way to deal with the homeless crisis. Deputies roaming through the encampment, using brute force is no solution,” insisted Merin. “We need to find not a container village but a place so people have privacy and can improve themselves.”

At the behest of SHRA, the Sheriff’s Dept. posted notices reportedly Sunday for the homeless to clear the area – SHRA said it’s going to build something sometime in the future there.

In the end Wednesday, many homeless were allowed back into the site to retrieve some of their few worldly possessions – tents, sleeping bags, canned food. But the trash haulers from the county collected dumpsters full of garbage and possessions. Autos and even a motorhome were towed.

Homeless advocates, frustrated by the overwhelming show of force, were visibly angry at how the homeless were being treated, leading to skirmishes with deputies.

The two people arrested for failing to disperse – although dozens of other people also did not disperse when ordered to do so and were not arrested – have a July court date in Superior Court.

Civil Rights Attorney Mark Merin Watches as Deputies Invade Camp on Wednesdays

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Eric Gelber

    “Black-clad deputies,” I assume refers to riot gear.

    I agree with Craig. As the sign in the photo says, “No displacement without placement” and “If you don’t have a solution, leave ours alone.” Harassment and dispersal is not a humane or viable solution to homelessness, which is the extreme manifestation of California’s housing crisis.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Yes.   One displaces rodents, insects without replacement… not people… or, shouldn’t be real…

      If any seeing this have not actually met, or engaged with the “homeless”, I respectfully suggest you do so… they are ‘real’, and many are more ‘human’ and ‘caring/generous’ than 50% + of Davis folk… it is a “community” portrayed as ‘outside’ our communities… I have repeatedly interacted with them… good people with real problems/issues…

      So many posters here want to make it all about themselves, and remind me of…

      “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
      “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
      “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
      “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
      “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
      “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
      “Both very busy, sir.”
      Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
      “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
      “Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
      “You wish to be anonymous?”
      “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge.

      Yet there are others (another thread or so) who believe in humanity…

      1. Bill Marshall

        For the ‘dense’, STEAC, St Vincent de Paul,  Yolo Food Bank, many others (often, but not always “faith-based”/spiritual based) are reaching out… many others really could care less (like Scrooge), or ‘care’ only if they don’t have to do anything

        Yeah, nerve was hit… some, who care, not should consider, ” there, except for GRACE, go I”…

        Just saying…

        1. Bill Marshall


          What makes you (or I) so special?

          We (you, I, all) can choose to be “special”, or choose not to… nothing more, nothing less… ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’… unless it is a koan…

        2. Alan Miller

          Of course all that comment trash had to be taken to the curb . . . but I did want to add back in:

          ” there, except for GRACE, go I”…

          What makes you (or I) so special?

          Regarding “there, except for GRACE, go I”, comparing those seen on the streets to those of us who have it much better off . . . why are some people benefitting from “GRACE”, and others are not?

          That is my point.

    2. Alan Miller

      “Black-clad deputies,” I assume refers to riot gear.

      Does it?  The references I found were more towards protestors who wear black and cover their faces.  I’m not sure it means anything.

        1. David Greenwald

          Along those lines, Rachel Barkow (who is speaking here in July) writes: “We fail to pay attention to what happens to people while they are incarcerated, which often means they come out worse off than when they came in because they received no programming,”

        2. Alan Miller

          Actually prison is generally not good and it probably ruins far more lives than it saves.

          Actually living outside in squalor is generally not good and it probably ruins far more lives than it saves.

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