Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Peace Camp 2010 protesters march to Santa Cruz police station

Camping ban protesters marched Tuesday from Santa Cruz City Hall to the lobby of the Santa Cruz Police Department where they attempted to retrieve all their property that has been confiscated from their camping sites. (Dan Coyro/Sentinel)

NOTE TO READER: After only three people had been processed, police pre-emptively shut down the office, ordering all those waiting in the lobby (and cooling off from record heat) out of doors. While police take blankets/property of homeless people 24/7, they only return it during a 1 hour time slot, two days a week leaving homeless people out in the cold without their survival gear. ---Becky Johnson, Ed.

FURTHER NOTE: The photo of the interior is a tribute to the (occasional) journalistic independence of Dan Coyro, the Sentinel photographer. Trisha Husome, records manager, came out from behind the thick glass enclosure in which the employees work. She told him and the rest of us that photographing and recording wee "not allowed" in the building (though police have a video camera monitoring the lobby).

Dan and Peacecamp2010 supporters, myself included, ignored Husome's repressive advisory. I'll be playing some audio of the protest which will be archived at

Last year Husome actually refused to provide documents under the Public Records Act because I was openly making an audio of our interaction (because of past difficulties and to keep an objective record of what went down). See "SCPD Covering Up False Police Report From Councilmember Mike Rotkin?" at

Not only were those homeless waiting for their property (and the public generally forced out of doors by four officers and a lieutenant ("lobby is closed"), but the police refused to give an explanation.

After Peacecampsters sat down (or lay down in the intense afternoon heat) to await the next 15 minute interval when the property officer would be "available", the police announced that the entire property room would be closed until next Thursday. When there would again be a narrow opening between 12:30 and 1:30 and another between 3:15 and 3:30. Unless the police again decide otherwise.

I did ask for the return of a table, two chairs, several "End the Sleeping Ban" signs, and the Peacecamp2010 teddy bear. I was told they couldn't help me because I had no "incident number". It did me no good to tell them the items weren't put in an incident report, as far as I knew. If anyone sees the downtown Officer Forbus, please advise him I'm trying to get my teddy bear released.
--Robert Norse

Camping ban protesters march to Santa Cruz police station
Posted: 08/25/2010 01:30:17 AM PDT

found online at:

SANTA CRUZ --" A small group of demonstrators taking part in the protest against the city's overnight sleeping ban marched to the police department Tuesday in hopes of retrieving blankets, sleeping bags, signs and other items seized during recent arrests.

Participant Becky Johnson said at least two people were given paperwork to retrieve their property but wasn't sure whether any actually received it. Police confirmed some property was collected.

"We went there en masse and apparently overwhelmed their staff," Johnson said.

The police department allows people who have been arrested to pick up property during brief windows of time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Due to cutbacks, the department only permits property pickup between 12:30-1:30 p.m. and 3:15-3:30 p.m. on those days.

No arrests or problems were reported during Tuesday's event. Johnson said there were no immediate plans to have another march Thursday.

Police arrested four people and issued 12 tickets outside City Hall between Saturday and 5 p.m. Tuesday. Protesters, who began their seven-week demonstration at the county courthouse lawn, are opposed to the ban against sleeping outside from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m., a law they believe unfairly targets homeless people.

They have asked police to check whether local shelters are full before writing citations and have vowed to stay until the City Council overturns the ban. The city attorney routinely dismisses citations if shelters were full on the evening of the day they were written.

"After failing to get traction at the county building, then failing again at City Hall, apparently the protesters are trying to gain traction at the police department," police spokesman Zach Friend said. "It's safe to say it's unlikely they'll get any traction here."

Camping ban protesters marched Tuesday from Santa Cruz City Hall to the lobby of the Santa Cruz Police Department where they attempted to retrieve all their property that has been confiscated from their camping sites. (Dan Coyro/Sentinel)


  1. Linked here: and here: with commentary.

  2. I agree with Becky Johnson's statement above. It seems criminal, mean, and kinda un-American, to me, when police hold somebody's gear -- whaen that body's transgression is often simply getting a ticket, maybe for something like smoking on a vacant sidewalk one didn't know was a crime -- people NEED their stuff. Would they be carrying it around on their backs if they didn't need it with them? Not after the first 2 days' of street-homelessness. I wish Schwarzenegger could spend three days in a row outside with only his bedroll and backpack before he "retires" from politics. When police take a person's blanket, or medicines or medi-cal card, or state ID or birth certificate, or sacred items, or food, there needs to be a provision of returning them that is MUCH more accountable to our public trust, tha I am seeing in City of Santa Cruz right now. We've had this ridiculous struggle before in this town; in Scotts Creek, whole wheeled houses were impounded and then sacked, wrongly said the courts, but eerybody's tools and critical items were GONE nonetheless! This civil right to personal property keeps getting restrewn and rebuked in cities and town (and highway builders and railroad right-of-way shepherds,...). It is a breach of civil order to deprive essential property from it's owners within our Constitutional government. Moreover, we now see that police officers here are told to do this, and yet said officers do not have the capacity to do it professionally: we must challenge such an unacceptable practice. Return the essential and personal property with the same concern show for individuals once you detain them, or else you become responsible for any damages that flow from the taking. To my mind, it is simply stealing, and the moreso when you take what is "unattended" without making any effort to identify the property (before OR after taking, I havea heard??). Such unjust 'taking' is a transgression on the part of the Santa Cruz Police Department, the City of Santa Cruz, and, I believe, the state of California. RETURN THE CRIMINAL BLANKETS!


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