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Lawsuit Against Sacramento's Homeless Camping Ordinance Goes To Jury

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The years-long battle between homeless people against the city of Sacramento is almost over.

Both sides presented closing arguments Wednesday, in Week 2 of this case. Now a jury will have to decide whether the city's no camping ordinance discriminates against the homeless.

Sacramento Civil Rights Attorney Mark Merin tried to convince a 12-person jury that the city's anti-camping ordinance is anti-homeless. Merin says the ordinance is unconstitutional because it's selectively enforced against homeless people to keep them on the run and out of sight.

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But city attorney Chance Trimm, says the homeless are cited for legitimate issues like causing noise and unhealthy conditions. He maintains that the city's no camping ordinance has been in place and working for more than two decades.

The case goes back about eight years when a group of homeless people was arrested in Downtown Sacramento for illegal camping. The group, known as Safe Ground Pioneers, sued the city arguing they were on private property in an industrial area and had the consent of the owner to be there.

The question now, what do they hope to achieve?

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Merin says it's not about money. His clients just want the city to designate safe places where they can camp.

"They don't want to be rousted out and arrested and cited for camping out," he said.

All they can do now is wait for the jury to deliberate and return a verdict.

A city spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.

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