City of Wheeling on notice: ACLU may file lawsuit on city if they don’t stop tearing down encampments

West Virginia Headlines

Wheeling, W.Va (WTRF)- The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia has informed the City of Wheeling it may file a lawsuit and seek an injunction to prevent the city from moving forward with tearing down the dwellings of community members who are experiencing homelessness.

City Manager Robert Herron says it was reports of crimes—not complaints about their appearance—that prompted the city to clear out certain homeless camps.

 Advocates of the homeless were shocked.

They say they are working ten hours a day to help the homeless with hygiene issues and educate them about the stay-at-home orders, only to learn that the only homes they had were being bulldozed.

“Tearing down the homes of people who are struggling is wrong any time,” said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark, “but doing so amid a global viral pandemic when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explicitly warns against doing so is unthinkable.”

Destruction of encampments even under normal circumstances can present numerous potential constitutional concerns as well, Stark wrote in the letter to City Wheeling Manager Robert Herron.

The ACLU says the City of Wheeling has until 5 p.m. April 20, 2020, to commit in writing to 1) put an immediate stop to the destruction of encampments and 2) establish housing alternatives for the individuals displaced by the city’s actions last week.

Read the full letter below:

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