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Emergency restraining order sought to prevent clearing I-90 homeless camp

Campers, Jewels Helping Hands and Disability Rights Washington filed the request for an emergency restraining order on Wednesday and are now waiting for a decision.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Less than two months after a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court attempting to stop authorities and local leaders from clearing out the homeless encampment by I-90, the petitioners have now requested a temporary emergency restraining order against Spokane, Spokane County and local law enforcement.

According to the request, the plaintiffs are seeking to gain a temporary restraining order until a judge rules whether the residents of the camp are legally allowed to stay there. Although the land is in the city of Spokane, it is owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

The original lawsuit was filed in October and asked a judge to pause efforts to clear the camp, commonly referred to as Camp Hope. The lawsuit stated doing so would allow the hundreds of people camping on the state-owned property to stay there.

On Wednesday, a request for a temporary restraining order was filed on behalf of the campers, Jewels Helping Hands and Disability Rights Washington. The request seeks to "prevent irreparable harm to plaintiffs and the exceptionally vulnerable residents of Camp Hope."

The request states that despite the filing of the lawsuit to prevent the clearing of the camp, the defendants - Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, the city of Spokane and Spokane County - have already "taken active and vigorous steps to initiate an immediate sweep of all residents of Camp Hope."

This includes handing out flyers to camp residents telling them "a sweep is imminent," according to the request. 

Campers, Jewels Helping Hands and Disability Rights Washington are now seeking the following:

  • Temporarily restraining defendants from arresting and/or removing residents of Camp Hope from their current location, or seizing their property, without specific and individualized probable cause to arrest a person for a criminal offense unrelated to an order given by defendants to disband, move, or otherwise leave Camp Hope
  • Temporarily restraining defendants from conducting any helicopter overflights of Camp Hope and/or from utilizing infrared imaging or similar technology to surveil or record the residents of Camp Hope, without first obtaining a judicial warrant for such a search.  

A judge has not yet ruled on the temporary restraining order but could do so at any time. 

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