The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has called on Governor Daniel McKee to rescind a notice requiring all persons currently camping in front of the State House to vacate their property by 9 AM tomorrow or else face arrest. In a letter emailed to the Governor this evening, the ACLU said that the “procedures being used by the state are completely inappropriate and appear to be without a legal basis.”
Among the numerous concerns and issues raised in the letter are these:
* Contrary to promises made to those camping at the State House that they “are being provided with a bed in an emergency shelter,” the state’s system for providing shelter care demonstrates that there simply are not a sufficient number of beds available for every person there, nor would shelters be able to take some of those individuals with disabilities that they cannot accommodate.
* The state is violating federal requirements governing that system, known as the Coordinated Entry System, which is designed to ensure that there is fair and equal access to shelter for those experiencing a housing crisis.
* The state has no formal rules or regulations setting standards or criteria for use of the State House grounds that authorize the notices to vacate.
The letter concludes by stating:
"In light of all the serious questions raised by the State’s misleading notice, the questionable process being implemented to remove individuals, the unavailability of promised shelter space, the lack of any formal regulations prohibiting the campers’ presence, and the State’s non-compliance with essential CES standards, we ask that the 48-hour vacate notice issued yesterday be rescinded, and that no further action be taken against those peacefully camping at the State House until these various issues can be examined and addressed in conformance with due process and federal and state law. We trust that, under all these circumstances, the State is not so callous as to take the rushed action it has threatened when there is no urgency whatsoever in doing so."
Depending on the state’s actions tomorrow, the ACLU of RI will consider possible legal action on behalf of people who end up being adversely affected. The full text of the letter is here.