In February of 2000, we settled our fifth lawsuit against the City of Cleveland. We were stuck in this game between homeless people and the City of Cleveland. Every Thanksgiving, they would send out a press release imploring shoppers to come downtown and ignore the homeless living outside. This was the trigger for the police to go out and demand that homeless people disapper. In a time to give thanks and reflect on the story of a prophet or the son of God being born homeless in a manger when homeless people would have to pack up and move under bridges or any other place that is out of sight by order of the City. One of our lawsuits, the City blamed rogue police officers for this policy. Police officers did not like to be blamed for being cold hearted during the holidays, and were not going to become the fall guys for the administration a second time. They were going to testify on our behalf in the 1999 lawsuit. This forced the hand of the city to either settle or admit that they were sending uniformed officers out to bully homeless people off the streets. The City caved and settled the lawsuit Key vs. the City of Cleveland.
NEOCH was able to get a signed agreement that the City would not send the police out to arrest or threaten arrest of homeless people for purely innocent behavior. We remember this critical piece of the law after posting it on our website this week. This was important because homeless people were not being harrassed for eating or sleeping outside after 2000. We have tested this agreement every November and it does not seem to be violated. We actually meet with the police on a regular basis and the City contacts us once a month to ask for help with a homeless person they are worried about. Things are much better between homeless people and the City of Cleveland, but we still have this agreement to make sure that there is no further problems.
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