Carol Aldape sits with her two dogs, Chief and Bella, and case manager Laura Thiessen at Cornerstone Community Outreach center on Jan. 18, 2018, in Chicago. She previously lived in the tent city under the Wilson Avenue viaduct on Lake Shore Drive. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

A homeless couple who say they had one tent after the other removed by city crews near Lower Wacker Drive are suing the city, citing a relatively new state law that aims to give them the same property rights as those with a roof over their heads.

Amie Smith and Shawn Moore, who have lived together on the street since 2015, allege that police targeted them for a year, repeatedly forcing them to move from the downtown Chicago spot and directing city crews to throw away what few personal possessions they had — including eight tents in the course of a year, identification and photos of deceased loved ones. Those actions, they say, violated the 2013 Illinois bill of homeless rights law. The state law guarantees homeless people access to public services and the right to “move freely” through public spaces such as sidewalks, parks and public transportation and prohibits discrimination based on someone’s living situation.

The couple couldn’t be reached for comment, but one of the attorneys representing the two say they were “targeted” by the city — threatened with arrest if they didn’t pack up and move and repeatedly deprived of their belongings. Those actions were discriminatory and violated the couple’s right to privacy in their makeshift home, the attorney argues.

Kate Schwartz, an attorney with Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym, compared the crews allegedly discarding the couple’s tent and possessions to the city taking and destroying an illegally parked car.

“The fact that you can’t park your car there doesn’t mean that the government can take your car away and never give it back to you,” Schwartz said. “The issue here is not about whether or not they have the right to be putting a tent there, because regardless of whether they do or don’t, the city doesn’t have the right to be taking (the couple’s tent) and destroy it when the reason they’re doing that is they’re motivated to by wanting to get homeless people to just not be in this area.”