Homeless man in Harlem (179497)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

Several homeless and community groups, including Picture the Homeless, Communities United for Police Reform, the Street Vendor Project and the Justice Committee are coming together to demand an end to the NYPD’s “move along” orders.

At a press conference on the steps of the New York Public Library Tuesday, advocates said that under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, homeless New Yorkers are targeted by police with constant orders to move from public spaces, even when they’re not violating any laws. In many cases, personal property is taken and discarded.

On May 26, PTH and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed the first major legal action with the NYC Human Rights Commission under the Community Safety Act law against police profiling, alleging violation because of the NYPD’s profiling of people based on their perceived housing status. Tuesday was the NYPD’s deadline to respond to the legal complaint.

“Homelessness is a tragedy, not a crime,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The government has no right to treat homeless people’s few personal possessions like garbage. No matter how much pressure the city is under to address homelessness, all people deserved to be treated with basic humanity.”

PTH and the NYCLU filed notices of claim over the personal belongings of homeless people that had been seized and destroyed by city officials last year. Reports surfaced about personal possessions taken and thrown away by NYPD officers and other city officials, including birth certificates, medication, family photos and other important documents.

One incident was caught on video and shows NYPD officers and Department of Sanitation workers kicking a homeless man named Floyd Parks and the others and telling them to wake up.

Parks said officers accused him of being in possession of stolen property, which was a crate. His birth certificate, medication, ID card, Social Security Card and clothes were thrown into the garbage. Parks said officers denied him the opportunity to get his belongings.

“No one should be treated like this,” said Parks. “Cops treat me like I’m nobody, like I’m an animal. A dog for them to kick around. That’s why I’m stepping up and participating in this legal action against the NYPD, and the administration. Why are people OK with living in a police state? I’m not, and that’s why I’m fighting back.”