Saturday, August 7, 2010

5 Arrests, Over a dozen misdemeanor citations -- 12 more await arrest

By Becky Johnson

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- As nearly 40 people, mostly homeless, settled into their spot on the Santa Cruz County Courthouse steps, plaza, and lining the wheelchair ramps, a team of Santa Cruz County Sheriff's, headed up by Sgt. Fred Plageman, arrived and routinely shined flashlights into faces, shook people awake and handed them a typewritten letter claiming they were violating "California Penal Code section 647 (e)" the state's anti-lodging law. This, despite a letter recently delivered to Peace Camp 2010 co-founder, Ed Frey, by County Counsel saying that City ordinances can be enforced on the County -managed property located within the City Limits of Santa Cruz. Campers, who on Thursday night numbered 60 humans and 4 dogs, braced for citations under the infamous "SleepingBan" MC 6.36.010 section a, outlaws the act of sleeping between 11PM and 8:30AM while section "b" bans the use of a blanket.

Since Ed Frey had previously determined that the County camping ordinance only applies to unincorporated Santa Cruz County, that could not be used against the campers. No one expected to be charged with the antiquated State "anti-lodging" law which dates back to the days of slavery. And a misdemeanor at that.

Everyone was rousted. Old women. The sick. A young woman begged for a safe place to go. "I'm homeless, " she told the young deputy. "I feel safe here. If I go back down by the river I'm afraid I'll be raped."

"I don't know what to tell you, " he replied, " You can't stay here."

"Curbhugger"Chris Doyon who was videotaping,was the first to be arrested, apparently for a past warrant on a minor charge. Then Orbit, who had earlier in the day tried to get shelter at the Homeless Services Center, but was denied due to the lack of availability, was the next person arrested. Orbit didn't have the letter he had sought stating that there was no shelter for the night of August 6th - 7th since he had "not yet been cited."

One man repeatedly begged for a place where he could go and sleep legally. The stony-faced deputy kept repeating "I can't help you with that, but you can't stay here."

Gary Johnson and Romero were the next to be arrested for failing to leave when told. Finally, for merely lying down on a blanket, a deputy determined that Amber G. was "illegally lodging" within the State of California and arrested her.

Dianne,who has been sick for days,and only yesterday returned from a hospital visit, was ordered to get up, pack up, and leave. She tearfully begged deputies to not ticket her. "I'm leaving. Please don't cite me!" The shame-faced deputy had to back off while Dianne painfully got her things together.

Sgt. Plageman was heard to order overtime with his deputies to accomplish the task.

As of this writing, 12 more await arrest, covered with blankets and some even daring to sleep.


  1. Hey Becky, if you are that concerned about the rights for the homeless go fight for them in Capitola and Scotts Valley. Why single out Santa Cruz? All you have managed to do is turn the community against your cause.

    Or is it not really about the "homeless" cause, but about you, Becky Johnson? Are you using these people to enhance your own narcissistic self? Don't you just *love* seeing your name in the paper? Take a long look inside yourself and ask yourself honestly why you and Robert Kahn took a trusting, caring community and turned it against your so-called cause.

    Putting your own ego above the basic human needs of others is truly evil. You have never done anything but hurt the homeless people in the city of Santa Cruz, and for that you should be deeply, deeply ashamed.

    If you want to go fight for a cause, try turning your attention to the dispossessed people of Palestine. Unlike the junkies you pretend to represent, the Palestinians are truly homeless, having had their land, houses and jobs taken from them by force.

  2. Please pack up your garbage and leave!! Thanks so much!!!


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.