NOTE TO READER: This article makes a number of factually incorrect statements. First, we are not demanding the right to sleep "wherever, whenever." And our protest is 8PM to 8AM, not 24/7. The Sleeping Ban applies to all lands out of doors, both public and private property within the city limits. We have asked that in a shelter emergency (thrice declared by the City and never rescinded) homeless people be allowed to sleep SOMEWHERE. Mayor Rotkin claims the City pays for homeless services but neglects to reveal there is walk-in, emergency shelter for 6% of our houseless population 8 months of the year. Be sure to log onto the KSBW site and view the video. ---Becky Johnson, Editor
Protesters Demand Right To Sleep Wherever, Whenever
POSTED: 12:17 am PDT July 28, 2010
UPDATED: 8:48 am PDT July 28, 2010
found online at: http://www.ksbw.com/news/24418671/detail.html
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- A group of homeless people in Santa Cruz marched to Tuesday's City Council meeting and demanded the right to be able to sleep wherever, and whenever, they want.
Demonstrators have been camping outside the Santa Cruz County Courthouse protesting the city's no-camping law for about a month. The law bans anyone from sleeping outside between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. Protesters said they just want to be able to sleep without getting ticketed by police.
Sam Muller, who is 28 years old and homeless, said economic stress has caused him to lose jobs and not be able to work. Muller is one of the youngest in the group Peace Camp 2010 -- a group of homeless protesters that has set up a 24-7 demonstration outside the Santa Cruz County Courthouse. The group is asking council members to revoke the city law.
"In the daytime, if you're seen with a blanket over you or sitting too long in one place, you could still get ticketed," Muller said. Christopher Doyon, who is also homeless, said a fourth ticket makes someone eligible for up to a year in prison. Homeless advocates said they wanted to voice their frustration at the city council meeting.
"The (law) itself is hideously unconstitutional and ludicrous," Doyon said. But workers at the courthouse where people have been camping out for over three weeks said the protest should be limited to after work hours when the sleep-ban is actually in effect.
"It's scary to me, people yelling at us sometimes when we're coming in," said court supervisor Linda Sepulveda. "(People say) off the wall things. We've seen drug deals happen out here." The camp has also expanded to the courthouse steps and outside lawns. Court workers also said it's becoming less of a peace camp, with recent tension nearly erupting into several fights. Santa Cruz County courthouse spokesman Tim Newman said there are reports that someone was wielding a pipe that they had with their personal belongings.
"We (are) trying to reign that in (and) keep it under control," Muller said. Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Rotkin said the sleeping ban protects the community.
"I think it's strongly supported by our citizens of our community. We put out a lot of services for homeless," Rotkin said. Muller, however, said there are long waiting lists to access those services, and said he is just looking for compassion during these hard economic times.
"Everybody is just one letter away from being in the same position we are," he said. Rotkin said he understands the tough situation the homeless are in, but adds most cities have a similar ban in place. Rotkin said there is a city ordinance that could be enacted to kick protesters off of the property outside the courthouse, but that the sheriff's office would be in charge, not city police.
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