Friday, July 9, 2010

13 Sleep for Justice on the Santa Cruz County Courthouse steps to End the Sleeping Ban

by HUFF Photo: SENTINEL Dan Coyro "Orbit settles in"

July 6, 2010

Santa Cruz, CA. -- At 8PM on July 5th, Congressional candidate, ED FREY, pulled up his white, pick-up truck pulling a small trailer with a porto-pottie attached for the second night in a row of a nightly protest/sleep in before the Santa Cruz County Courthouse. The first night, nine homeless people slept out of doors in plain public view in direct violation of MC 6.36.010 section "a", also known as the Sleeping Ban.

On July 5th, 13 slept out, 4 more than the night before. Lying beside homeless advocate, ROBERT NORSE, read out loud from a book about the history of free speech in the US courts. One woman, who had slept the night before, expressed gratitude at having a safe place to sleep. "I really didn't want to be out there by myself last night," she told HUFF activist, BECKY JOHNSON. On this night, she placed her sleeping bag under the eaves as a steady drizzle rained down from above. "And can you give me a large, black plastic bag too? The one I was using broke."

Further down near the lower steps, two homeless men carried on an animated conversation on the existence of God. One man, a devout Christian promoted God while another man, an atheist, assured him that there is no God, and that the suffering they were currently experiencing proved it. Both shared a single cigarette they had "recycled" from the ashtray.

On the HUFF table, a petition to end the Sleeping Ban sat, along with voter registration forms and ED FREY's signature gathering petition to qualify for the November ballot. But it was too dark to read them or sign anything. And as the drizzle became heavier, NORSE packed everything up and stowed it beneath the table. Considerably less useless was the delicious tomato bisque soup there courtesy of JOE SCHULTZ which, as more people wandered in throughout the night, was gratefully supped along with tortilla chips. From unknown donors, tubs of cottage cheese and bags of cheese popcorn appeared on the table, offered to anyone who wanted them.

Well after midnight, a drunken homeless man staggered in. He was helped up the steps by the Christian and the aetheist who sat him in a chair (for his own safety) and fed him some hot soup. He quieted down, and minutes later, he looked visibly relaxed. A Santa Cruz Police car rolled through the parking lot slowly around 2 AM. Many bodies were silent, wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags ---some under tarps out in the open mist, and others sheltered under the eaves. The police car flashed its lights on the sleepers but rolled past slowly without stopping. It did not return.

As morning dawned, BECKY JOHNSON stumbled sleepily out of her car, where she had slept, and was greeted by ROBERT NORSE with a copy of the Santa Cruz SENTINEL. On the front page was a story by SENTINEL writer, KIMBERLY WHITE in which VICE-MAYOR RYAN COONERTY said that the City Attorney automatically dismisses any citations handed out for illegal camping, provided there is proof that all available beds at all available shelters around the City are full.

NORSE asked why the police don't just check each night before they go out on patrol to see if any beds are still available before waking people up, doing a warrant check, moving them along, or issuing them a citation. The answer was obvious. They are being punished PRIOR to trial, as a matter of policy, and quite intentionally.

HUFF plans to set up again tonight at 8PM, and every night until the City suspends ticketing under the Sleeping Ban. In a sop to the recent damage from a fire set in a recycling barrel in front of City Attorney John Barisone's office, HUFF will be accepting donations tonight to pay for BARISONE's $50,000.00 front door.

309 Cedar St. PMB 14B -- Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060
(831) 423-HUFF

Local attorney and Congressional candidate, Ed Frey can be contacted at (831) 479-8911

1 comment:

  1. Peace Camp 2010 has raised $2.73 to buy City Attorney John Barison a new, $50,000.00 door. Please donate generously.


Thank-you for taking the time to express your point of view. The editor reserves the right to delete libelous or offensive comments. Please stay on topic and avoid personal attacks.