Sacramento Police Arrest Homeless Supporters Protesting At City Hall

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SACRAMENTO --

It’s a protest that has lasted for a few weeks now outside of Sacramento's City Hall, and early this morning, city officials finally tried to put a stop to it.

Advocates and members of Sacramento's homeless community have been protesting a city ordinance that bans camping out within city limits, something they say directly affects them.

Sacramento police were out in full force early Saturday morning, 49 deep in riot gear sending a message from the city to these protesters. Enough is enough.

James Clark was one of seven protesters arrested or cited for violating the very ordinance they were protesting.

"To us it shows the city really doesn't care about its citizens,” Clark said. “People are dying out here in the cold."

Sacramento's unlawful camping ordinance prohibits anyone from camping out, or using camp paraphernalia like tents or sleeping bags, in public places.

A rule Clark says targets the homeless.

"You don't see people with homes roaming around with sleeping bags and tarps and essential supplies to stay warm. You see homeless people doing that,” Clark said.

However, city officials say they've made multiple attempts these past few weeks to warn protestors to stop violating the ordinance or they'll make arrests.

A statement released Saturday evening by the City Manager's Office says in part:

“Last night, after numerous warnings and offerings of services since December 8, police were forced to arrest four people and cite three in violation of the city's camping ordinance.

The City of Sacramento acknowledges and recognizes the right of all citizens to exercise their right to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, the City also has an obligation to enforce laws involving the protection of public health and safety, including provisions of the Sacramento City Code that prohibit camping and the storage of camping items on public property.”

They even provided lists of homeless shelters with available beds.

But Cynthia Badders says finding good shelter is harder than one might think.

"I've been to the shelters. You can only stay one month unless you're a veteran, and you have to prove that,” she said.

Badders said she's been drug and alcohol free for 21 years. She says she prefers sleeping outside, because drugs and alcohol are everywhere around Sacramento's homeless shelters.

"In a group here I felt safer,” Badders said.

After weeks of protest, those fighting for their right to sleep outside hoped the city would bend on its ordinance, but after this police showing, and a handful of arrests, that doesn't seem likely.