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Seattle encampment sweeps will continue with lawsuit pending

A federal judge denied ACLU’s request for a restraining order

Several tents under a freeway overpass
An encampment in Portland, OR
Joshua Rainey/Shutterstock

The City of Seattle and WSDOT will not be required to make any changes to their encampment sweeps as a lawsuit against the city and state progresses. U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez denied a request for a temporary restraining order by the ACLU yesterday that would have halted sweeping unsheltered people’s belongings from encampments.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU on January 19 on behalf of at least two women who say that many of their belongings were thrown away without notice when sweeps came to their encampment.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who has defended the city’s “middle-of-the-road” sweep policy as humane, said in a statement, “under today’s ruling, the City will continue to address this crisis humanely while maintaining health and safety on our sidewalks, streets and in our parks.”

He adds that changes to the sweep protocols are still in a public comment period through today. The City is updating protocols based on recommendations by a task force that disbanded last September.

The city claims, per KING 5, that belongings are stored for 60 days and that they make every attempt to return the items. The ACLU, per KUOW, maintains that destruction of people’s property is still happening.