National News Briefs
One of the officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, a man experiencing homelessness and mental illness in Fullerton, Calif., is now facing a second lawsuit for alleged brutality against a different man with a disability. The Orange County Register reports that Mark Edwin Walker claims that Officer Manuel Ramos threw him to the ground and then stomped his hand and broke it during an arrest for public intoxication, a charge which was later dismissed. In an audio recording of the arrest, Ramos is heard threatening to break Walker’s arm during the arrest. “Why are you doing this,” Walker asked several times. “Because you’re not getting the picture, Mark, you’re not getting the point,” Ramos told him. Fullerton Police deny the allegations.
City workers in San Jose, Calif. will begin inventorying and storing the possessions of people experiencing homelessness instead of throwing them away during cleaning sweeps along a local riverbank where people often camp. The change comes after a police auditor recently reminded city officials of a long-forgotten policy against throwing away people’s possessions and the risk of liability. The shift comes too late for many, though, like Ray Canales, who had his Bible, work tools, and all his clothes tossed three months ago during a sweep, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The new storage program is expected to cost the city thousands of dollars, but officials claim that the community demands the riverbanks stay clean so not doing the sweeps is not an option.
Health officials in Jacksonville, Florida, are working to curb a recent outbreak of tuberculosis, largely affecting people experiencing homelessness. In one year, there was a 16 percent increase in the number of people diagnosed, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; that’s 30% of all cases nationwide. One concern is that some people experiencing homelessness do not continue with follow-up treatments until they have completely recovered, The Florida Times-Union reports. Local shelters are taking action by increasing airflow and space between beds and using ultraviolet light and HEPA filters to kill germs. A task force has also been formed.
A man experiencing homelessness in Billings, Montana, was recently sentenced to five years in prison for stealing $9.30, the Billings Gazette reports. The man told police he pushed open a locked door on Christmas Eve and stole coins from the register in hopes of being able to afford food and shelter for the night. His public defender told the court he had recently fallen on hard times and was unemployed and without a home. The Department of Corrections will chose where the man spends his five year sentence, but he currently remains lodged in a local jail.
In South Florida, the Miami Rescue Mission hosted a series of events designed to remind those experiencing homelessness that they are valued and not forgotten.The Associated Press reports that that the organization threw birthday bashes for more than 900 guests complete with birthday cards, live music, and decorations. They also hoped the event would help them better link their services with people who needed them.