An Actual Article about Lou Noble’s Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Anaheim.


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Lou on the right. (Roussan Joshua Collins on left, not involved in Lou’s suit.)

The Register printed one of their lamest and least informative stories ever a couple weeks ago;  I won’t say who wrote it because maybe he had a bad day, and I also know those editors can screw up any story.  On the other hand he COULD be a relative of Anaheim’s disgraced ex-city manager.

“Homeless Advocate, who APPARENTLY Video-Recorded Officers, Files Lawsuit Against Anaheim For His Arrest,” puzzles the title quizzically, as though it were a mystery even as to whether Lou Noble was actually filming the cops, and as though it were impossible to get a hold of Lou for the story (which the Register never attempted), and as though all of Lou’s and his companions’ videos were not easily findable on YouTube, and as though this humble blog had not reported on the entire event when it happened two years ago, as a one-second Google search will uncover.

The author DID contact Anaheim City spokesman Mike Lyster, who (to go by the article) spoke not of the actual issue at hand – police arresting peaceful people filming them from a safe distance and seizing their phones as “evidence” unconstitutionally – but of the PERIPHERAL issue of Anaheim police seizing the homeless’ belongings unconstitutionally – which we are happy to discuss.  Claims the always-friendly Mike:

…police have clear guidelines on personal property left unattended in city parks. Lyster said police provide “prior notification, storage and details to retrieve property with no questions asked, with the exception of evidence or items that pose a public safety risk.”

Well, here’s the thing:  many OC cities have anti-camping ordinances, but Anaheim is the only one that includes allowing its police to seize belongings from the homeless – specifying that the property has to be tagged, only seized if left unattended 24 hours, and taken to a storage facility unless the police find it gross and unhygienic which they usually do.  And in reality the police – particularly the Homeless Liaison Team – enforces this ordinance differently from month to month depending on the political winds of the moment – sometimes leaving the stuff alone, sometimes following the ordinance, but all too often waiting nothing like 24 hours at all.  Lou and Roussan have caught them doing this:  telling a homeless person to leave, and that if they bring their possessions with them they’ll be arrested, and then seizing the possessions as “abandoned.”  And we’re talking about necessities:  blankets and sleeping bags, medications, ID’s.  All too often it is difficult or impossible for the folks to retrieve their possessions.  Lou and Roussan have a lot of this behavior on film, and there are OTHER, SERIOUS lawsuits coming down the pike against Anaheim for its unconstitutional ordinance and its over-zealous enforcement.

But in any case this lawsuit is NOT about seizing homeless property, it is about upholding the right of citizens to film the police, and the unconstitutionality of seizing citizens’ phones for “evidence” in such a situation.  In this case the police returned Josh’s phone after a day, but kept Lou’s for several days, and it was his work phone.  There was no “evidence” on these phones except for the very videos which these two advocates prolifically post on You Tube, some of which you can see here.

Lou and his attorney are asking for $3 million, plus $2 million punitive damages;  they feel that this is the only way to teach this and other cities that the fourth amendment still means something, for those who film police activity.  The Orange Juice Blog will link to the lawsuit as soon as it is available (Lou had his attorney alter it a little to make it more accurate), and we will apprise our readership of any developments!  


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.