District attorney backs city in legal battle over homeless camps

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The fight is intensifying over how to treat homeless people in Albuquerque. A judge recently sided with the ACLU – restricting how the city can clean up homeless camps and saying they were violating their constitutional rights.

The city appealed, and the restrictions are on hold.

Now, District Attorney Sam Bregman is joining the fight, saying he supports the city’s efforts to prevent public spaces from becoming encampments.

Bregman said the judge’s order is distressing and says it now allows camping on any public property in the city, with the exception of schools and areas dedicated for public travel.

This week, Bregman filed an amicus brief with state’s Supreme Court, in support of the city. The district attorney says law enforcement should be able to enforce the law and have more flexibility when it comes to how they handle these camps and the services they provide to unhoused people.

The district attorney also pointed to crime rates near encampments.

“I’ve specifically had enough of them because so many of the victims of violent crimes are right there, the homeless, the unhoused,” Bregman said. “They are victims. We’ve had four homeless people murdered and this is unacceptable.”

Bregman says he understands it’s a tough issue but he will challenge any decision that limits the ability to use all tools to make the community safe.

On the other hand, the ACLU says it is unconstitutional to remove and throw away the property of homeless people from public places, without notice and due process.