City of Marysville, Yuba County to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for destroying personal property belonging to homeless residents
A federal class action lawsuit initiated by the California Homeless Union against the City of Marysville and Yuba County seeking damages for the destruction of thousands of items of personal property has been tentatively settled for $330,000.00.
The lawsuit, Butcher et al. v. City of Marysville, Yuba County, et al., Case No. 2:18-cv-02765, was originally filed in October, 2018 on the initiative of the Marysville/Yuba County local of the California Homeless Union. Local union officers and named plaintiffs including Brigitte Raelynn Butcher, Stan Extein, Sue Extein, Michael Elliot and Crystal Motley, along with dozens of other homeless union members, led the unprecedented effort which included gathering scores of signed, sworn declarations of the homeless and a march by Homeless Union members to City Hall where officials were served with the original summons and complaint. They are represented by Union General Counsel Anthony Prince and Sacramento civil rights attorneys Mark Merin and Paul Masuhara.
The settlement, reached Monday, February 3, 2020, is limited to economic damages and does not prevent the homeless from seeking a future restraining order to stop what the Homeless Union says is an ongoing pattern and practice of harassment and civil rights violations by city and county authorities. (See Next Page.) In 2016 and early 2017, hundreds of homeless community members were forcibly evicted from seven longstanding riverside encampments including Hollywood Park, Avondale, Horseshoe and Thorntree (“the Jungle”). While armed Marysville city police stood by, the campsites and personal possessions including tents, bedding, clothing, photographs, canned food, books, tools and priceless family heirlooms were systematically bulldozed and destroyed by Yuba County Code Enforcement after receiving authorization from the City of Marysville to enter the encampments and take “appropriate” action.
The tentative settlement is expected to be approved by the City of Marysville and Yuba County and will entail a claims process and notice to the hundreds of homeless whose property was seized and destroyed at the seven encampments during the relevant time period.
“We will wait until the tentative agreement becomes final before we make a more comprehensive statement,” says attorney Anthony Prince, “but for now, we believe we’ve held the authorities accountable.” Prince expressed hope that local government will agree to work with homeless union leaders to collaboratively address the growing crisis of housing and homelessness. “Breaking up these encampments and destroying personal property belonging to the homeless is not going solve the problem. The vast majority of homeless are working people who are unable to afford traditional housing,” says Prince. “There are thousands of people who are only one paycheck, one natural disaster, one layoff or one family medical emergency away from homelessness and when we fight, like we did here, our Union is standing up for all them.”