Friday, July 16, 2010

Santa Cruz Homeless Stage Protest at County Courthouse over Camping Ban

Two homeless men sleep on the courthouse steps in Santa Cruz to oppose the Sleeping Ban which makes the act of falling asleep after 11PM out of doors a crime. Photo by Becky Johnson July 12,2010

EDITORS NOTE: This coverage can be found in the California County News.

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Santa Cruz Homeless Stage Protest at County Courthouse over Camping Ban

The Santa Cruz County courthouse is becoming the scene of a nightly protest against a city ordinance that prohibits camping within city limits. The protest is spearheaded by the county’s homeless rights advocates and several homeless men. The protest is being called “Peace Camp” and will reportedly continue until the city does away with a law they call a “sleeping ban.” The protestors have also argued that many homeless in the county have nowhere else to go, so additional shelter space should be created. It is believed there are around 2,260 people in the county who are homeless. In terms of providing beds at shelters for homeless in the area, there are reportedly around 400 available each night. Mercury News reports:
“Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty said the city attorney automatically dismisses any citations handed out for illegal camping, provided there is proof that all available beds at the various shelters around the city are full. ‘He'll dismiss it,’ agreed Ed Frey, a local attorney who helped organize the protest, ‘but he won't stop the police from waking people up, writing them a ticket, making them go to court twice, and go over to the homeless services shelter and get an affidavit to the effect that there were no beds available that night. And then the law, in its majesty, will grant you a not guilty verdict.’”
One homeless man who was protesting the ordinance called it “draconian” and another stated that homeless should not have to jump through hoops to get fines dismissed. While the ordinance was implemented by the city, the protestors chose to stage their gathering on county property. Read more here.

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