San Diego Police Crack Down on Homeless for Comic Book Convention (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Comic-Con is the largest comic book convention in the country, and draws around 100,000 people to San Diego every year.

However, one group of people who may not be welcome are the homeless, who say that San Diego police are trying move them out of the area before the comic book convention begins next Thursday.

James Loften, who is homeless, claims police recently arrested him for sleeping on a street (video below).

"Officers came and woke me up at about six in the morning and told me I was under arrest for illegal lodging and encroachment," Loften told 10News. "I'm like, 'But all I did was go to sleep.'"

Loften was given a ticket and a stay-away order by the San Diego police, who took him to jail for not having a place to live.

"People on these streets are unsightly to the public, to the general public and certainly to visitors coming in from out of town," said homeless advocate David Ross, who is also known locally as the "Waterman" because he hands out water bottles to homeless people.

Ross claims that the San Diego police are trying to clear out homeless people before the Comic-Con begins.

In response, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told 10News, "Comic Con is nearly a week away" and added why would the police "crack down this early?"

In reality, Comic-Con begins earlier than the official start date on Thursday as dealers, guests and even movie studios come into town.

The City of San Diego is on record for criminalizing sleeping in public places, obstructing public right-of-ways and sleeping in one's own car.

San Diego Police Sgt. Teresa Clark claimed earlier this month that these laws (that criminalize poverty) actually encourage homeless people to get help.

“Compassionate enforcement is what we’re calling it,” Sgt. Teresa Clark told U-T San Diego.

“It’s kind of a process,” added Sgt. Clark. “We look for voluntary compliance. If somebody is in the same spot every day, their tent tends to grow in size. We tell them to pack light, keep it mobile.”

Sources: U-T San Diego and 10News