ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –It’s been nearly a month since a judge ruled that the city is not allowed to take and destroy property belonging to homeless people. That decision has gained the attention of Bernalillo County’s District Attorney, Sam Bregman, who is supporting the city in the legal dispute.
Following the ruling, D.A. Bregman has filed a brief in the case, requesting the New Mexico Supreme Court to get involved and asking them to reverse the decision. “The injunction places some restriction on law enforcement to do their job, and that’s always a big concern,” Bregman said.
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A little more than a year ago, the city shut down Coronado Park by clearing out tents and other belongings to homeless people staying there, saying it was a hotspot for organized crime, drug use, and trafficking.
Now, cleaning up homeless encampments has become more difficult for law enforcement, after the ACLU and other parties filed a lawsuit against the city, prohibiting city officials from taking, or destroying, the personal belongings of homeless people. They argue the city has not built enough affordable housing to deal with increasing rent and housing prices, and does not provide enough emergency shelter beds.
District Attorney Bregman, however, suggested this is not the answer, and will only lead to more crime. “We have to do something to help, not just the community in general, but those who are homeless and unhoused, and doing nothing about them and simply saying you can stay there and not provide the services is not acceptable either,” Bregman explained.
He continued, arguing that homeless people will pay the price if this ruling isn’t overturned, saying they are often victims of violent crimes in encampments. He cited that four homeless people died in public spaces over the last year. “I have seen come across my desk the horrendous violence and crime that has been committed at these homeless tent encampments,” added Bregman.
Because of the new limitations on cleanups, Bregman suggests that public parks could become homeless encampments once again. “Enough is enough. You can’t stop us from enforcing the law,” said Bregman.