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Posted on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 4:13 p.m.

ACLU files brief requesting charges be dismissed against homeless man

By Lee Higgins

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a friend of the court brief today, urging Ann Arbor's 15th District Court to dismiss charges against a homeless man arrested while living on public property.

The brief requests the court dismiss a trespassing charge against Caleb Poirier, the leader of the homeless tent community, "Camp Take Notice," a press release said.

Thumbnail image for Caleb_arrested2.jpg

Caleb Poirier was arrested at Camp Take Notice in early September.

Michigan State Police troopers arrested Poirier in early September at the Ann Arbor-Saline park-and-ride lot, where the tent community had been set up. He was charged with trespassing.

The ACLU argues punishing "harmless life-sustaining conduct," such as sleeping in public, constitutes "cruel and/or unusual punishment" under the U.S. and Michigan constitutions, the release said.

It's unclear whether the brief will have any effect on the case.

Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller could not immediately be reached for comment this afternoon.

Poirier is next scheduled to appear in court for an evidentiary hearing on the charge Jan. 5, court records show.


Mackael Randolph

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

Hippie? really? Caleb is a hero! he stands up and is the voice for people who no one cares about, ACLU was right in what they did.


Mon, Feb 1, 2010 : 12:49 p.m.

For those of you that bad mouth the ACLU is because you don't need the help, but the day that you do"it's a whole nother story! I recently went through a divorce and it wiped me completly out, I'm living in my brokendown beat up RV in sebastian,fl where the police is always telling me I have to move, why? because there is no compassion in sebastian,fl I've been a member of my community for 16 years and because the laws of this state and the courts and judges of this county can do just about what they please reguardless of the law. Hell they even have a law that if your working and doing the right things and your spouse is not" you will have to pay for her lawyer to sue you. I paid my taxes and was also a buisness owner in this community, and now being that I have no money left, I'm to be concidered a vagrant.I have been instructed by the police on where I can perk my Rv, And the locations are all outside of the city limits, I finally told them I'm not moving! I have paid for my tags on my RV two years in advance and the city allows Rv parking, just not those that own them and not spending money! I was issued a ticket the other night for legally parking in a parking area and the p[olice officer, said that my vehicle was over 23 feet long and over 9 feet tall and that was illegal to park anywhere in Sebastian,fl I asked to see the code, he brought me a peace of paper that said" any truck, van, trailor, semi" over 23 feet could not park, I told him Mine is an Rv not any of what is listed in the code, his reply was" they will call mine a van" and if I attempt to fight it I would loose and end up having to pay court costs. an Rv is an Rv recreational vehicle, and an egg is an egg.

Atticus F.

Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 5:10 p.m.

As an ACLU member, and a tax payer, I think these people have the right to go on any public property that you or I am allowed on. We've created a society where people cant hunt and gather, and are expected to conform to the modern day way of life, even if they dont have the skills to survive in todays world. Being homeless is not a crime, but some of these terrible heartless people would just assume lock up these poor people and trow away their whole life. Keep up the good work ACLU. everytime I hear a story like this, it makes me proud to be an ACLU member.


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 10:55 a.m.

WOW, the fear of The Other has come across loud and clear in the top comments. Automatic assumption: ALL of these people MUST be lazy. How do ya'll know that? Have you spoken to them, have you tried to find them work and had them turn you down? Have ANY of you offered up a better place for them to live? While I agree having citizens living at a park-and-ride is not best possible use of land I would think it might cause one to think about why it is happening and what each of us could do to help our fellow citizens in need, not jump onto the "We hate the ACLU" bandwagon. "How dare we demand that they do so just so they can live in the same comfort as we who work for a living?"-wings19 You live in the "same comfort" as those that live in a tent next to the highway? In Michigan about 14.3% of the labor force is unemployed, I guess your assumption is that 14.3% of the labor force does not want to work, even though 2 years ago they had jobs. My question is: Where are the religious leaders in our community? I can't even count the number of churches in this area, most of which are shut tight 4-6 days a week, heated the whole time, free of the tyranny of property tax. I thought the mantra was "private charity is enough to take care of the poor, we don't need govt to do it."? Where is the private charity? All of you that despise the ACLU and the impoverished, how many jobs did you create last year, how many homeless did you find homes for? And lastly, is it going to be easier on the taxpayers pocket to house them in the city/county jail, try them and then re-jail them than to let them be?


Fri, Dec 25, 2009 : 12:22 p.m.

Hello, friends, Before saying cruel and harsh words to the homeless people, please spend at least few ways to see and know. Not all of them are lazy, (Does it make sense?). I can leave them just having found out that most of them are very miserable. Many of them try very hard to find job. Delonis shelter is helping too. But under such economy?? We also have working poor living out on the streets. The low wages can afford the rent. Many come friend poor family background. Some stayed at the mental asylum for months. I witnessed how they look like when the medication is over. I drove them to refill their prescriptions. You would be scared to see the pale face, red/brown eyelids and motionless body. Friends, see/know more before condemning. We're all lucky that we're healthy. We don't know how illness torture people. Right, they look young/healthy. I recommend you spend just a little bit time to check out the real issue behind.

Brian Nord

Fri, Dec 25, 2009 : 9:43 a.m.

To clarify the previous post: the hidden poor of Ann Arbor are some of the hardest working people in the city, but they live on the brink. They are one random turn, one misstep, one economic downturn, from finding themselves on the street. And, the fall into homelessness is quicker than the climb out of it.


Fri, Dec 25, 2009 : 2:24 a.m.


Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 4:20 p.m.

I have to say I'm surprised by the comments here. Most are about how good or bad ACLU is and the rest are about these people being pretty much useless deadbeats. It really grieves me to think that people aren't a little more compassionate, especially during this economic downturn that has so many people out of work with no hope of finding a job right now. And... especially during this Christmas season that is about being loving and charitable. I guess it will take loosing your job and home before some of you can understand how tough things are for some people in this world. Especially now. There are tent cities across this nation that have sprung up as a result of GOOD people, through no fault of their own, having lost everything due to this recession. I hope it doesn't take a bringing to your knees experience before you can find some kindness in your heart for people less fortunate than you. Merry Christmas to all!


Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 3:32 p.m.

Can I ask where your 4200 number of homeless comes from? That seems quite high to me.

Brian Nord

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 2:29 p.m.

There were over 4200 people without homes in Wasthenaw County in 2008. That number has certainly increased -- probably more quickly than the national rate -- and it far outstrips the capacity of the county's human services. Many of the people on the street are actively seeking work and to re-engage with society, but are impeded due to unfortunate economic circumstances, mental handicaps, drug addiction, and certainly some bad decision-making; but, there is rarely one reason that people find themselves without food or shelter. If you'd like to know one of the many possible reasons, talk to someone; go right to the source. When someone is asking for money on the corner, ask them a little about their story; they won't hesitate to tell you. I implore and challenge readers to accept the complexity of the issue. Oversimplifying it without regard for the facts merely serves to distract us from a problem that affects us all: whether or not we agree on the make-up of the homeless population, people will be living on the streets. This is not good for the homeless, and it is not good for the homeful. Our local and national housing problems are symptoms of inequities and inefficiencies at deeper levels of our society and government: more and more people without homes are children, and they are too young to be hippies, and when we look at the real data on available services, it becomes clear that they have nowhere to go. If you'd like to join the dialogue for creating a solution, or even if you'd like to debate the issue, feel free to contact me through


Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 12:41 p.m.

It's very sad to see some people misunderstand them. They look young and healthy??!! I hang around with them. Please check their backpacks. Several bottles of pills. Check their medical record. 35% of the homeless community are mental-ill patients. They take over seven pills a day plus other supplements. Show mercy please. Please don't overlook disabled, chronic diseases, mental illness. God bless!


Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 10:03 a.m.

david briegel...why are you assuming that all ACLU critics here are republicans/guntoters? im an obama-liking democrat...but in terms of the real world the ACLU often seems like someone who's a firefighter by day and a pyromaniac at night ( or the other way around)...but hey, if you want to contribute be my guest...and as i said i indirectly do too ( via my joint tax return)

David Briegel

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 9:49 a.m.

The whiners here should make their donations to the ACLU now. If anyone ever tried to shut you up or take your guns (as if) the Republican party wouldn't help you but the hated ACLU would be the first to defend you! You all know that!

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 8:24 a.m.

IMHO, the ACLU has done one thing or another to irritate everyone. But they might have this one right. How can someone be trespassing on public land? And why would the prosecutor waste his time on this???

Bob W

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 : 7:43 a.m.

With crime on the upswing in A2, according to the latest FBI stats, combined with bugdet issues, I would think a "move along" warning would be sufficient for now, at least. How about concentrating on more serious offences?


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 10:38 p.m.

Macabre, Agree with every word of your previous post. It seems like the ACLU has attempted to regain its title as "defender of free speech" in the past year, but it is likely that irreparable damage was done by the period of advocating political correctness.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 8:27 p.m.

As much as I felt it was wrong for the Nazis to march in Skokie (as someone who, like the person who made the decision to take that case, lost relatives in the Holocaust), I understood and respected the ACLU position. We are a weaker country if we attempt to ban speech. The definition of "hate speech" has expanded, in today's politically correct culture, to include anything that offends those in the ivory towers. In other words: just about everything. Unfortunately, the ACLU has clouded its freedom mission by also recommending that "undesirable" speech be fought with political correctness, specifically outlining a course of action that, in effect, accomplishes the same thing as a ban. IMO, the ACLU has lost its edge and has been floundering the last couple of decades.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 8:02 p.m.

Wings19 I was still respronding to bedrogs statemeents so i raelly don't know what your refering to.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 7:09 p.m.

"Right that's in reaction to a crime, correct? Not their garentee as Americans to the Bill of Rights. " First of all you spelled Guarantee wrong. Secondly, these people were not being put to death or imprisoned, or even fined. They were being told to Move along. Go somewhere else.They chose not to move along as some sort of "Statement", Like I wasn't aware that some people didn't wish to work for a living.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:57 p.m.

"legally even the worst have a right to a defense and a hearing before a jury of peers..." Right that's in reaction to a crime, correct? Not their garentee as Americans to the Bill of Rights.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:55 p.m.

@Loka I agree with the ideals, and I'm not for arresting everybody whom I disagree with. But these kids were not making any point, they were just being lazy.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:42 p.m.

Wing19 i actually agree with you...i was just responding to the idea of free speech as a concept. Dirty hippies - Check Arrest them - Check


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:39 p.m.

loka..the "day in court" reference simply refers to the fact that legally even the worst have a right to a defense and a hearing before a jury of peers...a very different order of business, it seems to me, than aggressively facilitating those who proselytize anti-civic behaviors.... and chadz if that's "heartless and shamefull( sic)" all i can say is " give me a break"!!...and i at least, as stated earlier, have no strong opinions on the case at issue in the article and certainly feel for ( and go out of my way to economically help)some of the homeless, who are in such straits for reasons other than systematic, self-induced screw-ups (via substance abuse etc). them, not so much!!


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:31 p.m.

Missing the point, all of you. This is not about the ACLU or your illusion of a right to free speech. This is about dirty hippies living by the on-ramp than I have to drive by.I don't want them there. In fact "WE" don't want them there, and "WE" pay for that land. We pay for it with taxes on hard work. When they contribute to the tax base, they can have a say.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:21 p.m.

heartless and shamefull are most of the comments here, surely the wave of street drugs and rooms renting at $425 a month. has taken its toll on our youth, but all ages are homeless now, I dont know what the cost of someone outdoors is? it seems they are not using the system for free stuff. are any of you offering a job?

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:19 p.m.

I certainly do not agree with all the positions the ACLU takes, but they do serve to remind us all that unpopular opinions have a right to be heard. All the anonymous posters here are free to say what they will about the ACLU and that orgainzation will strive to protect your right to continue to critize them.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 6:12 p.m.

I understand you do not agree with speaking out for the "rights" of Nazis, but I do. And pedophiles, and Dog fighting enthusiasts and all minorities....jews & muslums...all of them. I'm not familair with the "day in court" quote you're refering to though.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 5:50 p.m.

actually, loca, assertively "speaking for the rights of all minorities, (no matter how hateful)" seems to me quite different than guaranteeing everyone a "day in court"... i support the latter, but not necessarily the former ( as in the case of kkk-ers, nazis, antisemites, pedophiles, dog-fight enthusiasts etc). and the increased criminalization of incendiary "hate speech" and other wackoid ideologies/behaviors seems to bear me out, and leave the ACLU behind the curve...


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 5:47 p.m.

The ACLU, like many such organizations, was founded with good intentions. In fact admirable intentions with which most of us would agree with. However, like many organizations with good intentions, they seem to have become more about pressing their own agenda in the media than doing any actual good. But this is all beside the point. The point is, in my opinion, that regardless of any statement these so called "homeless" were trying to make, they were breaking the law. Laws that I (and thousands of others) pay outlandish taxes to have enforced.If I, the taxpayer wants to have freeloaders removed from land that my tax dollars pay for, that seems only fair.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 5:16 p.m.

Just wonder if it's ok to camp out at the ACLU? I'd be using my free speech rights to bring the plight of those traumatized by poor ACLU actions to the attention of the media...

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 5:16 p.m.

There are plenty of places very generous people have made available for the homeless. Surely the ACLU has better cases available, though admittedly they have long since lost in the court of public opinion.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 5:08 p.m.

while i have no strong opinion one way or the other about this particular case of ACLU involvement, the group as a whole lost my support years ago after its support of the "right' of neo-nazis to march in skokie ill.,a community filled with holocaust survivors. its ongoing willingness to defend those who themselves aim to deny rights to others seems,frankly, stupid...and the aclu mantra of "first they came for the whoevers, and i did nothing;then they came for the other whoevers and i did nothing; and then they came for me and there was noone left to defend me" just doesnt cut it, since many of those they defend are the "theys" in the adage. anyway, my wife disagrees with me, so i get to take them as a tax deduction anyway.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 4:46 p.m.

The ACLU is a joke. The purpose of that lot is to encourage car-pooling. Having homeless people in the immediate area could possibly deter people from parking there. The charge of trespassing should stand.


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 4:36 p.m.

I'm sure the ACLU's argument has merit, since they never take a case solely on the basis that it made headlines. I for one think it's perfectly reasonable to see young and healthy people living outside in tents between the highway and the on-ramp. It's not their fault that they live like that, they just are not willing to work for money, and they have that right. How dare we demand that they do so just so they can live in the same comfort as we who work for a living?Our tax dollars are well spent to support those who don't want to work, that's why we pay taxes right?