Santa Monica charged with violating civil rights through car seizures, lawsuit states

Santa Monica, according to a lawsuit, is accused of towing unlicensed vehicles and refusing to return them. It also charges hundreds of fees.

“They are not following basic California law in terms of what to do when a vehicle is impounded from an individual who is unlicensed,”Christian Contreras, a civil rights lawyer, said:

Contreras represents Santa Monica street vendor. He says he was pulled over by a broken taillight, and then cited for driving with no license. He was then denied the right to his vehicle back. The vehicle is now racking up a lot of damage. “hundreds and hundreds of dollars in fees,” Contreras said.

“The law says that if you have an agent — here, my client’s brother … a licensed driver — the city has to give that person, the registered owner, their property. Simply because you’re unlicensed doesn’t mean you can’t sell the vehicle; you can have someone else with a license use it,”He stated.

Street vendor activist Edin Enamorado said that he believes street vendors are being targeted in this manner.

“They know they don’t have a license because they are undocumented and they are taking advantage of that fact,” Enamorado said.

The city is accused of violating the Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendments as well as targeting Black and brown people and those with low means.

“The City of Santa Monica has just received this information and needs time to evaluate thoroughly to provide an accurate response. At this time, the City is unable to provide more information or a position on this lawsuit,”The city issued a statement.

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