LOS ANGELES -- Everything from toasters to typewriters is piled high on a Skid Row sidewalk under the watchful eye of a woman who calls herself Mercedes Benz.
The sidewalk is public property, but the possessions are hers and her neighbors, setting up a conflict between the homeless and a city trying to bring order where chaos reigns. Since a federal judge ordered the city four months ago to stop seizing property from Skid Row streets, sidewalks already teeming with people are now crammed with stuff.
The items might indeed be discarded junk, but to the nation's densest concentration of homeless they're someone's worldly goods and they have nowhere else to put them.
Courts have repeatedly found that property of homeless people cannot be wantonly seized simply because it's on the street.