LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today sent a letter to Los Angeles Councilmember Jan Perry, an advocate of police sweeps in the downtown area, calling on her to end attempts to shift blame on the pressing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles and instead start to work towards a solution that is both humane and constitutional.

Last month, the ACLU/SC and the National Lawyers Guild filed suit against the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles for engaging in aggressive and unconstitutional police sweeps of the homeless population in the skid row area downtown. A federal judge recently ruled that the police sweeps were in violation of residents' constitutional rights and ordered a preliminary injunction on the controversial homeless sweeps.

"Instead of attempting to shift the responsibility of solving the problem of homelessness to civil rights advocates, Councilwoman Perry should get down to the business of addressing this most pressing issue," said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. "The ACLU/SC and the National Lawyers Guild filed suit to protect the constitutional rights of the homeless not to be subject to unreasonable searches without suspicion in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

"Sweeping people off the streets, taking people into jail for sitting on the sidewalk, illegally searching people at random, these are not productive approaches to the problem we have in Los Angeles," continued Ripston. "There are only 4,000 emergency shelter beds for the estimated 85,000 homeless persons in the area. People have no choice but to sleep on the streets; it makes no sense to pack the jails with people whose only crime is a lack of adequate shelter."

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