Monday, August 30, 2010
Attorney Ed Frey, Robert Norse of bagel-serving fame, and I attended a meeting of the Board of Directors, Homeless Services Center, Coral St, Santa Cruz. I went on behalf of a few people I've met, Peace Camp 2010 campers, currently trying to sleep under loud kleig lights, in the front brickwork lip of City Hall park. Also my own concerns about the breadth of this city's anti-public-sleeping law compelled me there.
We are concerned about this City's mean policies around dismissing sleep tickets given sleepers in public when there is no available shelter nor other safer alternative for them. Requiring a homeless person who is sleeping outside in public, or perhaps "camping", or covering with a blanket, to get awakened by the force of police for a "crime" they cannot avoid committing without harming themselves, is abusive on it's face.
Yet the worst is yet to come: in order to deal with the ticket for camping outside, the victim being accused of this sleep crime has to get ON the court docket -- or pay it, and the price goes UP if they get a second, and jail is the price after the third one. Would they be able to pay a ticket for sleeping if they are not able to find better shelter? For most people I've met, no.
Then they must get to court and defend their status as actual humans who need to sleep in order to live, and they must show the judge that on the night of their sleep crime n citation, there were no available shelter beds available to them.
The necessity defense: "Your Honor, I need to sleep." This means, because of a snide agreement between the City Attorney and City Council members in 1997 (?) that they THEN must go to the shelter system before they can defend themselves effectively, to show they had no other choice that night.
A huge aspect of this alleged system the Homeless Services enter, both is near downtown and is offering a panoply of services. The cited sleeper has to get a FORM LETTER that discloses the frequently true fact that there was NO SHELTER BED available when she got her ticket for sleeping.
The Homeless Services Center's five or more primary programs provide many services to homeless people who are their clients, including meals, laundry washing, lockers, mail pickup, and even -- yes -- shelter for both special needs folks and simply houseless folks. But these services re limited relative to the homeless population here.
The County can be proud of HSC's diversity of services, with the capstone of a very special family shelter, long absent in this half of the area. But they are not an emergency shelter except in winter, with the state-mandated Armory program and it's shuttle service.
Not an emergency shelter.
Give me a break! When I was homeless, this kind of make-work, running people around -- people often with no car and less than daily bus fare -- into the ground, contributed greatly to my present physical condition, which is crippled. I see people becoming destroyed in even worse ways than this because of inane policies which were originally intended to cover up secret goals. This goal was simply a sweeping of the downtown streets of poor, different, and homeless people.
But it does much more than sweep people away. It harms them. And the people who create these nonsensical procedural hoops never go back and see how it's working, unless they are forced to. So I believe we who consider ourselves citizens and humane need to force this question, and we need to help with reparations for the harm done for the past decade to people noosed by such "criminal" citations.
Robert, Ed and I attended the Board of Directors meeting because the week before, we were not able to persuade staffers, on behalf of a PeaceCamp2010 regular, who also has health care needs being unmet, to provide a preventive letter similar in scope to the one cited sleepers must get for court. It was Norse's idea that if police were notified when they come to ticket or arrest campers, that there is no emergency shelter available, they'd be obliged to "lighten up."
But it was not to be. Even the County Sheriff's Deputies, as careful as they were, presumed when they used the City's anti-sleep ordinance (!?!) that it was prestrung to City procedures. "NO," said the otherwise helpful Daniel to our client-driven request the week before, "I can only give out this letter filled out (with cite numbers and name of "criminal") after the fact." Leaving us to seek a higher authority to attempt to change the policy.
Personally, I believe the nonprofit Board, though legally responsible for it's programs, will not be able to budge because they got their protocol from the City, which promotes and helps provide for it's fiscal base. As the Board includes a sitting City Council member, this is not particularly wrong, just dangerously sad. So I joined the other two advocates, one sharp on justice and the other wise about civil rights, to appeal to HSC's Board.
We were welcomed and asked to introduce ourselves, to the 8 or 9 directors present, one telephonically. There was no quorum, yet as soon as the introductions became explicit, and we WERE asking for a policy change, discussion was ended. Helpfully, the meeting chair suggested she and Norse have a meeting with the police chief to explore the problem.
I felt her offer was intended, wisely, to protect the integrity of the meeting atmosphere, and to free her board to discuss the agenda that they would not be able to act upon. I would have liked to speak to people while they were listening, rather than being limited to "introductions." Nonetheless, we completed a step in this wonderland of anti-homeless horrors. Like homeless people who come here, we have to jump through the next set of hoops, knowing we will again not be heard.
Notes by Robert Norse:
Linda Lemaster is a formerly homeless mom who has served as Chair of the City's Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and its Homeless Issues Task Force. The full HITF report can be found at http://www.cabinc.org/Research/HTFFinalReport.htm ,
As of 8-30, the Homeless Services Center has so far declined to issue a general letter certifying what its representatives have said in court--that there has been no walk-in emergency shelter since April 15 and won't be any until November 15, if the Winter Armory Shelter opens.
HSC Executive Director Monica Martinez also clarified at the 8-19 HSC Board of Directors meeting that the HSC will not issue a letter stating that they had no shelter on any particular night--even if they didn't have any shelter--unless (a) a person has gotten a ticket from the police, and (b) the person was signed up on a waiting list for the particular night.
Attorneys Ed Frey and Kate Wells, as well as Linda Lemaster hope to meet with Board of Directors chair Sally Williams in early September.
This seems to me to be a delaying tactic that avoids responsibility for current policy. Williams says she wants to explore some agreement with the police that they will check with the HSC before issuing citations (a proposal by Frey). Williams also seems to be interested in having a staff member available to clarify that on any night shelter is or isn't available (though this is largely superfluous since it isn't available almost invariably).
The problem lies in Williams and Martinez's not issuing a letter of shelter insufficiency and changing the "no letters unless you're a part of our group" policy.
Since Martinez and Williams are continuing the current policy, they are penalizing all homeless people and colluding with a police policy that ignores the lack of shelter in order to give the police power and legitimacy to issue citations for something we all need to do--sleep.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Klieg lights August 20, 2010 Photo by Becky Johnson
Article found online at: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657054.php
by Robert Norse
The SCPD appears to be using a new harassment strategy at Peacecamp2010. The protest movement in its struggle to maintain a nightly presence at or across from City Hall, has faced repeated seizure of property, ticketing for new "offenses", and the changing agreed-upon standards of behavior at the protest. Political signs, their table, and the chairs they sit on--earlier reclaimed by the protesters with difficulty is now being seized again, eliminating their visible presence.
A small but persistent band of Peacecamp2010 [PC2010] demonstrators has gathered each night at City Hall, under near-blinding klieg lights powered by a smelly noisy generator, to defy the City's anti-homeless 11 PM - 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban.
In response, City police have escalated from harassment wake-up's and ticketing threats.
They moved beyond infraction citations under MC 6.36 (the Camping Ordinance which includes the Sleeping, Blanket, and Camping Bans) and threats to arrest if the protesters dare to sleep, cover up, or "encamp" a second successive night. They've tried the enforcement "strategy" used at the County Building last month-- misdemeanor tickets and arrests under the sweeping and selectively enforced "anti-lodging" state penal code 647e.
They've set up glaring lights on a platform installed in a parking spot in front of the City Hall entrance, complete with a generator, noisily spewing toxic fumes and making ordinary conversation problematic. They've rushed through without public comment an administrative edict by Parks and Rec boss, Dannette Shoemaker, making any protest or presence at City Hall after 10 PM a "trespass" offense--even though City Hall is public property, and has been open to the public 24/7 for over 150 years.
New signs posted at City Hall close access
to the grounds for the first time in 150 years.
Photo by Becky Johnson August 21, 2010
They've confiscated political signs, tables, chairs, and personal survival gear without any citations, making the retrieval of property difficult and the retriever liable to an "unattended property" citation, even though the property itself was claimed--and the claim ignored by harassing police. They closed down the police lobby on Tuesday and shut down property claim times, stonewalling those who had marched to the station on August 24 in attempt to reclaim their stolen blankets and sleeping bags.
Those who returned the following Thursday, looking for their confiscated possessions, were told that "since they weren't causing a hubub, they COULD process the return of their possessions." Clearly any homeless person associated with the protest is being punished by the denial of due process.
Protesters have moved from the City Hall grass, to the red bricks, to the front area of City Hall, to the library frontage across the street, then to the sidewalk--all under pressure from police to vacate a new area, suddenly declared "illegal".
Two days after some protest property was successfully reclaimed by "Castaway" Crow, the police confiscated and removed their chairs, table, signs, and blankets.Everything had been moved to the sidewalk to get them out of the "No Trespassing" zone, and were carefully arrayed to leave a passage free on the sidewalk. Still "Get it Done" Gary received a new category of ticket-- "blocking the sidewalk".
"The Officer told me 'You shouldn't have to swerve to walk past them,' " Gary reported.
The next night, apparently dazzled by rhetorical points made by the ever-loquacious "Ocean" police skipped citing him, only to return the following night to ticket him for "trespass" because one of his signs impinged on the red brick "closed after 10 PM" area. "Looks like my citation collection is almost complete," noted Gary. "I seem to be collecting at least one of each."
Last night Gary, one of the first protesters arrested and one of those there the longest, placed his sleeping bag in a well-lighted parking spot In front of Gary was the sputtering portable generator fueling the Klieg lights; behind him, attorney-activist Ed Frey's white pick-up truck used to haul, park, and service the only bathroom facility open after midnight in Santa Cruz--the Protest Portapotty. "What about the toxic fumes from the generator three feet away?" I asked. "Got to," he replied, "It's the only safe spot in the where approaching cars won't inadvertently park on top of you."
Will protesters get the same right to occupy space as vehicles? Not the case in public parking lots down town where Vice-Mayor Coonerty's Parking Lot Panic law made it illegal to assemble, socialize, or even sit in your vehicle. Watch this site for updates.
City Manager Martin Bernal may have trotted out a new illegitimate City strategy that ignores and crushes First Amendment rights because simple ticketing under the Camping Ordinance and the state Lodging law may not pass muster because of the acknowledged absence of walk-in emergency shelter from April 15 to November 15. Hence we we see new "trespassing" and "blocking the sidewalk" citations, abusive and repeated seizures of unmistakably First Amendment protected signs as well as vital homeless survival gear, and false inflammatory charges of criminal behavior at the site ("child molesting") without any factual back-up.
Meanwhile "Nuff Said" Nancy McCradie, a decades-long Sleeping Ban survivor and fighter from Santa Barbara, suggests fighting 647e by sleeping on top of bedding since that law specifies "in" not "on" in its wording.
Judith Scherr of Free Speech Radio News came down to Santa Cruz last week and created a radio segment being broadcast nationally about Peacecamp2010 and broadcast on KPFA radio. Hear it archived at http://www.fsrn.org/audio/protest-over-homeless-rights-brings-issue-santa-cruz%E2%80%99s-city-hall/7391 .
Locally Bathrobespierre's Broadsides, the Free Radio Santa Cruz twice-weekly show, continues to archive developments at Peacecamp2010 at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/brb-descriptions.html . I've answered a local hit piece against Ed Frey in the Santa Cruz Weekly at http://news.santacruz.com/2010/08/24/santa_cruz_attorney_takes_up_plight_of_the_homeless .
And the Sentinel has moved from inflammatory SCPD press releases to complete silence as police ramp up the pressure against poor people fighting an unjust law in a very hard economic time.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Report by Judith Scherr
August 27, 2010
found online at:
In Santa Cruz, California a two-month long protest continues in front of City Hall.
Since July 4, a group of homeless people and their advocates have been holding “peace camp 2010” to protest a four-decades-old law prohibiting people from sleeping in public places and vehicles overnight. Groups say law enforcement is targeting the homeless and ticketing them for sleeping outside, even though they have no place else to go. FSRN's Judith Scherr has the story.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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 http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100826.mp3
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 http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/12/26/18468941.php
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.
Camping ban protesters march to Santa Cruz police station
By J.M. BROWN
Posted: 08/25/2010 01:30:17 AM PDT
found online at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_15886112
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)
Sunday, August 22, 2010
In another move clamping down on public use of previously public space, the city posed "closing hours" on the City Hall grounds for the first time, without any kind of public hearing, announcement, or rationale.
Last night homeless activists reported five more false citations being given for sleeping or lodging, unconstitutional because the Homeless Services Center has acknowledged and KION reported, that all available shelter has a waiting list of weeks. Hence police know such citations will be thrown out by courts on a "necessity" defense (or just a letter from HSC).
In front of City Hall a $100/night generator was still chugging and growling through the night tonight to fuel the burning glare of 4 15' high klieg lights turned on at 10 PM to protect the public from the menace of homeless sleepers.
On Saturday morning, police gave out 5 more citations (and perhaps one arrest, reports were unclear). Those, reported one nocturnal watcher, who slept in front of City Hall got the more serious 647e misdemeanor "lodging" tickets; those who slept across the street at the library got MC 6.36.010a infraction citations.
Curbhugger Chris Doyan, who left the protest on Tuesday, came by to visit in the afternoon and saw noone there, thinking the protest had been crushed. But by 8:15 p.m. more than a dozen activists gathered in the soon-to-be-forbidden courtyard area, to discuss strategy for the night and for the nights to come.
There was talk of setting up a Tent City, debate over who should speak for the protest and concern about making new signs (to replace those snatched by the police, along with the Peacecamp2010 table, which was removed a few days before). The group touched on broader issues of public accountability and transparency, welcomed a few new members, and determined it would meet nightly in hopes of growing stronger and getting the message "End the Sleeping Ban" out to the broader community.
By midnight Frank Lopez was sleeping under an American flag blanket on what the security guard told him was a "forbidden spot". Ed Frey scoffed at the new posted sign, noting "it doesn't say where the courtyard begins and the entrance ends; let's see a diagram or a copy of the ordinance."
When then-Mayor Mike Rotkin tried to close down City Hall in 1996 to end another homeless protest against the Sleeping Ban, the City Council declined to back him and Judge Samuel Stevens ended up granting a very limited injunction requiring that folks there "obey all laws". This time, in what appears to be a very slippery legal maneuver, Parks and Recreation, which controls virtually all the public space around public buildings, simply issued an edict closing the area without a hearing. Naturally, there were no statistics presented showing any increased crime rate.
" Doesn't Santa Cruz have one of the highest rates of rape and the lowest rates of rapist apprehension?" asked one protester (See "Rape Cover-Up in Santa Cruz? Greensite v. Rotkin on FRSC" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/07/03/18433006.php
"Who owns this area?" asked one protester . "I thought the public spaces belonged to the public." Not in Santa Cruz apparently. Public areas can be closed at the whim of Dannettee Shoemaker, the Parks and Rec czarina.
"Homeless sleepers" (ominously painted as "homeless camps") have been the pretext for a recent push to open up a police path through the Pogonip, shut down the Town Clock at night in 1991, closed the parks (and their bathrooms) at night in 1984, criminalized being on the levee at night in the late 90's, closed the Pogonip at night, and made sitting down on 95% of the downtown sidewalks criminal activity.
Police Chief Kevin Vogel, trumpeted the bogus "menace" of "child molesters" and other "public safety" threats among the small band of principled and sleeplogged protesters at City Hall. See "Sentinel Misinformation Allows Police to Install "Don't Sleep Here" Klieg Lights" at http://peacecamp2010.blogspot.com/2010/08/santa-cruz-homeless-protest-brightened.html .
Vogel himself was exposed as a "constitution molester" by his illegal political surveillance activities of late 2005 when he ordered his officers to spy on a peaceful DIY New Year's celebration prep (See "Police Auditor's Report Reportedly Available In Main Library" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/03/21/18097021.php Police, City Attorney, and Judiciary jointly engaged in target practice using Modes as the bulls-eye when he was convicted of "walking" in last year's New Year's parade without a permit.
Spirits at Peacecamp2010 were still high when I left the protest at midnight--72-year old Collette Connolly had laid out her sleeping bag on the sidewalk--so as to be "legal" following the new edict eliminating homeless sleepers from the city hall grounds.
"Since they won't listen to us during the day at the seat of government and arrest us at night when we try to sleep here, perhaps we should simply go visit those in real power--the business owners, and start sleeping and picketing in front of their businesses during the day," said one protesters, who asked not to be named. "City Hall is pretty isolated; perhaps the community and the tourists need to see what Santa Cruz police are doing to homeless people in the broad light of day. That'll also save them money on those big fancy klieg lights."
Friday, August 20, 2010
THE BAD AND THE GOOD
The Santa Cruz Sentinel's inflammatory and libelous stories characterizing Mark Greer, a homeless activist at the Peacecamp2010 homeless protest, as a "child molester" was ignorantly echoed by KION's Matt Denesnera [See story following this article below].
On the positive side, Denesnera's story does cover, briefly, the central issue of the Peacecamp2010 protest--harassing, citing, and arresting homeless people for sleeping in public places when there is no legal shelter is an institutional crime by the authorities. It is a crime that does greater violence to individuals and society than the so-called "crime" of sleeping outside (as banned by SCMC 6.36.010a, SCMC 6.36.010b, SCMC 6.36.010c and CPC 647e.
The shelter issue has also been spotlighted by attorney Ed Frey and others who took the issue to the Homeless Services Center board on Thursday (8-19) evening.
See "Correcting the Record at the Homeless Services Center Today" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/19/18656366.php & "No Homeless Shelter & the Sleeping Ban: Shelter Providers & Mayor Rotkin Speak" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/21/18656488.php .
THE DAMAGING SMEAR OF THE "CHILD MOLESTER" LABEL
Without researching or interviewing, Sentinel reporter Jennifer Squires smeared the protest as dangerous and Greet as a convicted pervert, a venomous charge repeated by Deputy Police Chief Kevin Vogel in the second story. This "terror tale" apparently gave Vogel's Sleepbusters a pretext to make Peacecamp2010's sidewalk sleeping area more hostile by installing huge 15' high Klieg lights on a platform with a noisy and fume-spewing diesel generator running it through the night.
The company supplying the lights and generator confirmed the cost was $100 per day ($400 per week). The city also apparently recruited a second First Alarm security guard to patrol the sinister sleepers. The whole affair is reminiscent of the Bush-Obama post-9/11 propaganda justifying the war on terror. Indeed the "lights and noise" environment smacks of the U.S.-run Guantanamo, Abu Gharab, and Bagram concentration camps.
Greer's girlfriend Sara, however, reports that there is no substance to the "molester" charge. She's lived with Greer for some time, she says, and CPS has given Greer a clean bill of health. Greeg's background as an "unregistered sex offender" comes from his arrest at age 14 for a sexual relationship with a girl one year younger.
Because juvenile authorities claimed he'd failed to complete a program, he has been required to register every month, which he has done. Sara says he got permission to travel, and was one day late in registered because Santa Cruz police arrested the pregnant Sara on a warrant for camping from San Luis Obispo. (Sara says the authorities there laughed at the warrant and released her, so she returned her to find Greer in jail.
Greer, who gave his name as Jason or Shadow, is in jail here in Santa Cruz, for providing "false information" (that is, a false name). Some audio from Greer can be found at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100819.mp3 .
The defamatory Sentinel stories
Child molester arrested at Santa Cruz camping protest
Santa Cruz police light up camping protest with floodlights
A partial presentation of Sara's story was buried in a Sentinel article today by Cathy Kelly " Peace Camp protestors ticketed again; Santa Cruz mayor visits camp" at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_15842800.
The full KOIN story:
Santa Cruz Homeless Protest Brightened by Floodlights
Posted: Aug 19, 2010 7:47 PM PDT Updated: Aug 19, 2010 7:58 PM PDT
by Matt Denesnera, KION
found online at: http://www.kcba.com/Global/story.asp?S=13016011
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- At dusk, Santa Cruz police fire up floodlights in front of City Hall, illuminating what's left of Peace Camp 2010.
Authorities installed the lighting citing public safety concerns, particularly after a convicted sex offender, who failed to register with police, was arrested here earlier this week.
"When you've got a child molester out there who's on the run from the law -- he had several outstanding warrants from San Luis Obispo County -- it really takes this to a new level in terms of safety," said Santa Cruz deputy police chief Kevin Vogel.
The homeless and their advocates are protesting the city's sleeping ordinances and, in the past, they have asked for amnesty for all sleeping tickets dating back to the late 1970's.
Demonstrators said they're just looking for a safe place, but it's apparently hard to come by. They told Central Coast News there is nowhere to go, and that's why they are taking their grievances to the steps of the city government.
Officials with the Homeless Services Center on Coral Street confirmed that shelter space is limited; they said they practically have a year-round waiting list.
"Right now, we have about a two week waiting list for women, and four week waiting list for men," explained Monica Martinez, executive director of the Homeless Services Center.
Some protesters said that leaves them with few options.
As for a solution to the complex issue of homelessness, Martinez said it involves working with various agencies to provide services for those on the streets.
As a security guard shut off the generator powering the floodlights in front of City Hall Thursday morning, demonstrators said they have no plans to leave.
"We want to see the world change," said homeless advocate Rick Branthoover. "Not because of us, but there are alot of other people who need help, too."
Police aren't letting up either: "As long as these protesters continue to flaunt this community's laws, we will continue to enforce the law," said deputy chief Vogel.
Submitted by Matt de Nesnera, Central Coast News Reporter
SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
August 20 2010
found online at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_15836039?source=most_viewed
Homeless campers ticketed again
Police handed out two more tickets for alleged unlawful lodging Wednesday night at a homeless demonstration camp in front of City Hall, and arrested a man wanted on a felony weapons warrant, spokesman Zach Friend said.
On Thursday morning, Samuel Muller, 28, was arrested for a Fresno-generated warrant for a weapons violation, Friend said. Muller initially gave officers a false name, Friend said.
A group of homeless people began camping in front of the county courthouse on July Fourth and then moved to City Hall last week.
Protesters are seeking a change to a city code which prohibits sleeping outside between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.
On Wednesday, for the second night, police kept large floodlights shining on the camp. They said the lights are for added security.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Santa Cruz police light up camping protest with floodlights
By Jennifer Squires
Posted: 08/19/2010 01:30:51 AM PDT
found online at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_15823598
SANTA CRUZ -- The day a convicted child molester was arrested at a homeless camping demonstration on the City Hall lawn, Santa Cruz police officers hauled in large floodlights to illuminate the protest.
Deputy Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said the aim of lighting the protest is to protect public safety. The lights went up Tuesday night and will be there until the demonstration ends.
"The lights at City Hall are simply an additional security measure and were put in place for the safety of our community," Vogel said Wednesday. "With yesterday's arrest of the convicted child molester at City Hall, it's apparent that the City Hall protest has reached new proportions."
Mark Greer, a 29-year-old local transient, was arrested at the demonstration Tuesday under the state anti-lodging law but he gave the officer a fake name, according to police.
The discrepancy was sorted out at County Jail, where he was fingerprinted and his real name popped up. Jail records showed he is registered sex offender and has five warrants from San Luis Obispo County.
As part of his child molestation conviction, Greer is required to register with police every month, but hasn't checked in with law enforcement since June, police said.
Vogel said Greer's arrest, along with fights, trash and other issues at the camp-in demonstration, show participants can't police themselves.
The so-called Peace Camp protest launched July Fourth at the county courthouse
and moved to City Hall a week ago. Participants are calling for an end to the city ordinance that prohibits camping outside between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.
Police have been going to the demonstration nightly to ticket and arrest participants. Two people were ticketed around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday for violating the camping law. Vogel said it seemed there were fewer protest participants than on prior nights.
Illuminating the demonstration with floodlights costs about $100 a day, police reported.
Lights, Camera, Tickets! Klieg Lights at City Hall--the Homeless To Confront HSC Shelterless Shelter Services 5:30 PM Today
City spendthrifts and creative police brainstorming apparently combined to set up 14' high klieg lights--such as swept the Pacific Avenue crowds on Halloween--to spotlight homeless sleepers in front of the City Hall.
Some nights ago cops began herding and concentrating PeaceCamp2010 protesters into the small area on Center St. in front of the City Hall across from the main library. They threatened to (falsely) arrest anyone falling asleep or covering up with blankets elsewhere in the City Hall complex. Since the complex is open to the public 24 hours a day, this threat is either empty or unconstitutional. In addition both the Sleeping (MC 6.36.010a) and Blanket (MC 6.36.010b) are infractions that specifically do not allow for custodial arrests.
With PeaceCamp2010 protesters were coralled in the small area fronting the sidewalk, police further threatened that any belongings or protest materials left on the flat seating areas would be confiscated as "abandoned".
Then in a clumsy and bewildering display indifferent to its symbolic and historical significance, police set up a tower of 4 14' high klieg lights, such as was used on Pacific Halloween to light up crowds, which duplicates the conditions in Guantanamo and Pelican Bay prisons. The intense illumination is reminiscent of concentration camp spotlights. On the bright side--so far no guard dogs snarling on leashes and barbed wire--but a 24-hour First Alarm security guard is regularly lurking about. (Some folks on Pacific Avenue have also noted the replacement of softer lights there with more high intensity lights in the last half year on that street).
Powering the lights is a noisy and fume-spewing diesel generator which also "helps" by making sleep more difficult (and more toxic) for the homeless--for whom there is no legal shelter, in spite of misleading claims by city and police officials.
DISAPPEARING THOSE WHO COMPLAIN
After two days of stalling and stonewalling, the Homeless Service Center [HSC] finally issued Art, an elderly homeless local, one of their "no room a the inn" letters, which homeless people then take to court to get their false citations dismissed.
Art was one of over 30 who got misdemeanor citation for "unlawful lodging" (i.e. sleeping) at the county building at PeaceCamp2010. And the first I've heard of to get one of the HSC's standard letters.
Within a day or two after he finally got the letter, Art was given a second misdemeanor lodging citation (in spite of showing the police his letter). They arrested him for sleeping in front of City Hall and took him away in handcuffs. He has not been seen since.
IGNORING A REASONABLE SUGGESTION
Attorney Ed Frey, who started the PeaceCamp2010 protest on July 4th, suggested that police simply check with the HSC to see if there's a shelter bed available before issuing tickets (See http://peacecamp2010.blogspot.com/2010/07/mayor-mike-rotkin-debates-ed-frey-on.html). If not, don't ticket unless there's another health or safety problem--and deal with that rather than criminalize sleeping--a necessary human activity.
Police who give out citations know will be dismissed later in court if the HSC letters are presented since they establish a "defense of necessity". Since police know these letters are regularly issued and shelter is unavailable during the summer months, cops citing and harassing sleepers are guilty of nothing less than conscious and systematic harassment--punishable by law.
Daniel White, Shelter Director at the HSC, had already told another homeless man (Timothy Smith) in front of witnesses (I being one of them) that there is no walk-in emergency shelter at all any night between April 15th (when the Winter Armory Shelter closed) to November 15th (when it may reopen). White did suggest anyone could sign up on a 4-6 week waiting list. He repeated this statement under oath in court on Thursday August 5th in the Injunction trial of Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon.
STONEWALLING ON THE SHELTER EMERGENCY
So far, the HSC's Monica Martinez has declined to give out a letter documenting these sworn statements on paper. This apparently has confused Sentinel editor Don Miller who wrote a recent editorial suggesting there was shelter available (http://www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/dmillereditor/2010/08/12/snooze-you-lose-in-santa-cruz/). Invited to correct his inflammatory misinformation, Miller has remained silent. Meanwhile Jennifer Squires continues to write articles dismissing the shelter emergency as a mere "protester claim" rather than the established fact it is.
To do so, of course, would be to expose the police ticketing practice as not only cruel, costly, and futile, but also make the city legally liable for endorsing and funding a regular form of abuse used to "discourage" homeless people from staying in Santa Cruz.
This afternoon homeless activists and victims of this misinformation will go to the HSC's monthly Board of Directors meeting. They will (again) publicly request that the Board, its Executive Director Martinez, or its employees provide a general letter that states:
"There is no walk-in emergency shelter in the Paul Lee Loft--the only shelter available to the general homeless population here between April 15 and November 15. Except through getting on a waiting list which has a delay time of 4-6 weeks."
Pretty simple. Pretty straightforward. Pretty devastating.
COME TO THE MEETING TODAY
Executive Director Monica Martinez has reaffirmed that the HSC Board meetings are open to the public. They are held in the Community Room of the Rebele Family Shelter at 11r Coral St. To speak to the Board during the "public comment" section, folks should be there at 5:30 PM sharp (today Thursday 8-19). Martinez can be reached directly at 831-458-6020 X2103.
Come on down to support this rather simple request that the HSC be honest and transparent about what the real situation is, however much this may embarrass the police, the Downtown Association, the City Council, and the Mayor.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
by Linda Lemaster
This note is simply a place-holder message. I haven't been home enough to write anything myself worthy of sharing. I have been spending whatever time I could during the past week at PeaceCamp2010.
I have been involved with what I'm calling the Movement to End Homelessness in our Country, since Scott Creek struggles in the late 1970s; since before the word "homelessness" was indulged by news reporters and memorialized by Paul Simon in song. When I started paying attention to this stuff, in my then-hometown, City of Santa Cruz, people were still fretting about the overuse of the word "vagrant" and calling gatherings of displaced people UTEs, which stands for Unidentified Transient Elements. It was dehumanizing, said some. So they stopped using it in print. Then began "homeless" and homelessness".
For decades I've been a nag: "Don't use it as a noun," I'd lament. It is a descriptive, an adjective. It demeans people further when used as a subject or noun. Homeless PEOPLE. At least in the first entry in a story, whether to a bureaucrat or to a news person, I've pushed this one little concern, perhaps in vain. People who are clearly committed to humane values continue to say, The Homeless! I believe this cluelessness (by most folks who do it) is not intended to help dehumanize the displace folks, but it does so. It makes it much easier to get that "them or us" hostility going. It has been a tool to push folks into this caste-system-like status.
So I say again, for the gazillionth time it feels like, "HOMELESS" is an adjective. In the past year, many more people have become supportive of making 'homelessness' a status crime, in light of the pattern, nationwide, of random and vicious attacks against visibly homeless sleepers. Most of us can't do much about such a big and urgent social "problem." But we can retrain ourselves to use more appropriate words in our everyday speech, can't we?
I have continued to engage in work I feel/felt would lead to undoing homelessness as federal social policy. I have continued to check out the tent cities and encampments and those rare gatherings that would resist growing homelessness. I once put together a great (well reviewed) Civil Rights & Homeless People panel for a Housing California conference, and I helped to organize and execute a wonderfully uplifting and educational "Tent City Convention" which invited folks from all up and down the west coast, including Canada, to spend a long weekend together and share problems and solutions for organizers. Thanks to Thomas Leavitt and his family, we were able to put together a "safe place" (i.e. private property) for that gathering of about 50 folks.
I have continued, as my health has permitted, to be an active participant in our County's Continuum of Care and Homeless Action Partnership, a collaborative who's tasks include helping get state and federal funding for this growing population distributed optimally in Santa Cruz County.
As leader/facilitator for Housing NOW! in Santa Cruz, I have continued to provide organizational and technical support, as well as occasional respite support, to my friends and neighbors here. Recently, I had to dust off my hat as an "expert on homelessness" and again become a court witness for the persecuted and prosecuted homeless population. In short, I have learned there are a LOT of ways we can each and all face this growing "problem". I try to do whatever I can that makes sense and that could stem the tide of wasted American lives, even if only a little bit.
While I believed, years ago, that I'd be able to "do more" once my children were grown, it isn't really happening yet. I bring all this nonsense and knowledge to my involvement when I stand with protesters, demonstrators and individually stranded homeless folk. As a committed pacifist, sometimes, there's no match between demonstrators and what I can share. Sometimes there is.
With the emergence of Peace Camp 2010 (see blog -- same name -- for their contact info and more) I have been enjoying a supportive role in this experiment of "being allowed to be": to be visible, to find each other, to sleep in less fear, and much more. I believe isolation is a killer and a crazy-maker, and homeless people keep becoming isolated, and often die totally alone.
The gatherings of homeless people also gives compassionate folks in our communities the opportunity to make offerings as well; very important engagement. For me, this is so very important.
I have fallen in 'deep like' with many of the "regulars" in Peace Camp! Checking in, for the past month, sleeping in borrowed van nearby, some nites; doing what I can. Sometimes a little tube of 'triple antibiotic ointment', chewable Vitamin C, or a ride to a clinic makes a person's day. Sometimes just a cup of hot tea.
While I have very little (in typical terms), it is so much more than I had when I was homeless with my kids!
I believe this work is my calling, or maybe the reason I was born. It requires me to be of support and to be friendly to "the unfortunate." The Spiritual tradition which I follow requires me to help people who are less fortunate than I am, and I've been very lucky to learn how "easy" this can be when one is willing to be flexible and awake.
Well, the other nite I quite literally fell asleep on the job.
The first night I slept outside with Peace Camp 2010 folks, I got a ticket for "lodging". Bet it will turn out to be an expensive decision/nite. But I was very deeply concerned about just then was one of the men there, who was quite ill, and I felt I needed to keep an eye on his welfare. (It was obviously the most important thing just then, for me.)
Earlier, I had offered "ride to hospital?" but he explained how that would likely create just TWO DAY'S of help, and then set up a greater health emergency, unless there was money for the hospital's release directions. My own hospital experiences match his assessment. And there is NOT real health care access for most homeless people. And I couldn't think of any other way to safeguard this man's physical health, so I slept on the cement with about ten folk who had no other options, alongside one housed girlfriend sharing such concerns, too.
Homelessness kills, and I'm just too tired of knowing some of it's absolute victims.
Linda Lemaster is a long-time Santa Cruz resident and activist. She served as chair of the City's official Homeless Issues Task Force, founded the Welfare Mothers Support Group, and has been deeply involved in the struggle for homeless rights and services throughout her life.
Monday Aug 16th, 2010 9:03 PM
THIS STORY CONCERNS EVENTS AT PEACECAMP2010 ON MONDAY MORNING AUGUST 16TH.
I walked from the Courtroom farce of the Wes Modes "conviction" for walking in the New Year's parade "knowingly" without a permit to PeaceCamp2010 with Indybay photographer and journalist Bradley. It was encouraging to find some people, the poorest and most vulnerable in our community, standing up--with very little support from the broader activist community--for the most basic of civil rights: the right to be left alone--the same right Wes Modes looked for in court this morning and couldn't find...
ARMED MEN WAKING UP PREGNANT WOMEN AND OLD MEN
In the Monday morning wee hours, I read Curbhugger Chris's Twitter thread reporting police repeatedly waking up tired homeless people with no legal place to sleep. The cops added insult to injury by going through the charade of insisting on presenting them with meaningless “shelter information” cards, which provided no legal shelter, while demanding their ID, interrogating them, and generally making them feel like second-class citizens.
The group of folks attempting to sleep included several men over 55 and two pregnant women.
WARNING THE POLICE
Earlier in the evening I'd followed around an officer who was asking for people's ID's before 11 PM (when it's still legal to sleep or cover up with blankets), advising people that they don't have to provide him with information. In fact, doing so helps them build cases later to drive them away from the relative security of the Peace Camp. The cop justified his genteel harassment by claiming he was “just warning” protesters of what they knew too well already.
After 11 PM police reportedly returned with flashlights, spotlights, and headlights—as many as ten times according to some. The nearly-hourly police visits prompted Watchman Jason and a companion to wake up all the sleepers so as to make their presence there “legal” and limit the number of tickets.
I found this curious, since each citation is an indictment of the officer issuing it as well as any superior authorizing the citation, since both officer and superior know full well that all tickets will be dismissed. There is no shelter at the Paul Lee Loft (the only general shelter for single people run by the Homeless Services Center]. Waiting lists are long and run 4-6 weeks. There will be no emergency walk-in shelter until the Winter Armory Shelter opens up in mid-November, if and when that happens.
I would hope any citations would be used as evidence that the SCPD is engaged in straight-forward harassment, a form of cruel and unusual punishment of innocent people banned by the Constitution. In Los Angeles in 2006, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this kind of police behavior was unconstitutional as well as the bogus L.A. Sleeping Ban being used as the pretext to do it.
FALSE POLICE THREATS AND THE WORDING OF THE CAMPING ORDINANCE
Police falsely threatened them with arrest if they “slept again within 48 hours.” Sleeping itself is and can only be an infraction and so not an arrestable offense. MC 6.36.040 has clear wording here, limiting the fines and actually requiring the court to allow community service: “Any person who violates any section in this chapter is guilty of an infraction and shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty dollars [$97 with added court fees]. Alternatively any person who violates any section in this chapter, in lieu of a fine may, if that person so requests, be required to provide no more than eight hours of community service.”
MC 6.36.050, allows for a misdemeanor arrest within 24 (not 48) hours but only for “camping”, not for the Sleeping and Blanket bans. It reads: “Any person who violates any section in this chapter, other than subsections (a) and (b) of Section 6.36.010, and is cited for such violation, and who within twenty-four hours after receiving such citation again violates the same section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
THE ROTKIN RESPONSE
At mid-morning Mayor Mike Rotkin parked his motorcycle and passed by the protesters, again, as ever, without speaking to them. Curbhugger Chris reported that he'd never come over to talk to them in the 5 days they'd been there. Throughout the 46 days PeaceCamp2010 the protesters provided a safe sleeping spot in front of the Courthouse, Rotkin issued statements to the press taunting the homeless group for lodging on county property when their grievance was the City's Sleeping ordinance. Now when the group has moved to sleep right outside the Mayor's office to provide him easy access to engage in a dialogue, the Mayor has repeatedly avoided them.
More to highlight the Mayor's hypocrisy than in hopes of any real movement, I called over to the Mayor and asked him to meet. He agreed, but said he didn't have his calendar with him, agreeing though that Friday would be a good day and would contact me in a few hours. Eight hours later I'd received no word.
SOME VICTIMS OF THE SLEEPING BAN WAR
Jennifer from Indiana, was trying to sleep during the day beside her three suitcases. She reported she'd been with the PeaceCamp for 2 weeks and felt it was “really good”, a safe place for her as a woman.
Jason reported that he and his pregnant girlfriend had been given bus tickets to leave town and return to Missouri by Danielle Long, the social worker, but alas, his girlfriend was arrested on a warrant at 5 AM this morning—for camping in Paso Robles, where authorities are using the Rotkin “hide out or get out” approach.
Meanwhile the City continues to pay a First Alarm security guard (perhaps several) to patrol the PeaceCamp with regular SCPD patrols stopping frequently to walk the area in search of straggly sleepers. There's been no estimate of the cost.
Additionally police have (falsely) informed protesters that they must limit their sleeping to the small cement area in front of the City Hall bordering the sidewalk, avoiding 95% of City Hall on pain of "arrest". Since the City Hall grounds are open 24 hours a day, and sleeping is illegal anywhere and everywhere, the "warning" is a misleading one. If the police choose to, they can ticket anyone for sleeping after 11 PM whether huddled together in a small space, or spread out over the City Hall grounds.
City Council candidate Steve Pleich also visited the protest and commended the protesters for their civil rights work. Protesters advised him they are planning to attend the City Council candidate forum tomorrow at 5:30 PM at the City Council chambers. That should be interesting.
This story has further comments at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/16/18656217.php .
This morning's Sentinel article on the latest ratcheting up of police pressure at Peace Camp 2010 has some significant errors---several of which I address here. The Squires story covers police harassment and whitewash over the weekend through Monday morning. It follows my comments, for those interested.
The "services offered" do not include shelter--except for 48 people in the Paul Lee Loft--which has a 4-6 week waiting list according to Daniel White.
White told me this in front of three witnesses and gave this information as his sworn testimony in Judge Volkman's court last Thursday at the end of the Richardson/de Leon Permanent Injunction Trial.
Deputy-Chief Vogel is mistaken on two counts. The City's Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a) doesn't have any provision for dismissing citations if the summer shelters are full (only if the Winter Armory Shelter is full during the Winter).
But the judges recognize that the California Supreme Court in the Tobe & Eichorn cases required local courts to allow a "defense of necessity" in any camping case. This is a complicated and lengthy defense that consumes court time and money--which essentially boils down to "there was no shelter that night".
The court is required to allow it under MC 6.36 (the city ordinance) and PC 647e, the state "anti-lodging" law. San Diego police are no longer allowed to enforce that code at night under the Spencer settlement, following in the wake of the L.A. Jones decision overturning the L.A. Sleeping Ban.
Santa Cruz is spending lots of time and money citing, arresting, jailing, and trying people instead of acknowledging the shelter emergency and addressing it directly. Or allowing homeless people to address it themselves.
Abusive behavior, littering, urinating and defecating, despoiling the environment are already crimes. Enforcing laws against sleep or "lodging" is a futile and costly practice that is still likely to result in a successful lawsuit against the City and County.
Time for a new approach. The number of homeless people is growing because of the economy.
The folks at Peace Camp 2010 are determined to stay. 2 more arrests and 3 more citations only provoked indignation and a defiant if sleepy return to sleeping bags and blankets.
Jennifer Squires needs to do some research of her own. Visit the Homeless Service Center and ask how many beds are actually available tonight, last night, tomorrow night, last month, next month.
The answers she will learn probably won't stop her from swallowing Zack Friend's press releases whole, but maybe she can season them with a few relevant facts.
For anyone interested the Homeless Service Center's Board of Directors has its monthly public meeting Thursday night at 5:30 PM out at the HSC.
Police use state anti-lodging law on protest of city camping banby Jennifer Squires
August 17, 2010
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- At 1:45AM, Santa Cruz Police swept through Peace Camp 2010 in a wave of ticketing, rousting sleeping bodies and telling them that "they can't stay in a place where people don't want them to be,." They wrote three citations, made no arrests, and left. None of them were for the Sleeping Ban.
Instead, in yet another legal turn more twisted than a Seaside Company roller-coaster, officers issued three 647 (e) misdemeanor "anti-lodging" laws instead of the famed "Sleeping Ban" which is the purpose of the protest.
It can't be fun for them. Last night, seven different raids resulted in zero tickets. "We have a new strategy here at Peace Camp,"explained spokesman, "Curbhugger" Chris Doyon. "No tickets if we can avoid them." Two campers, at each end alerted those sleeping of the police raid, so that by the time officers arrived, people were sitting up and no sleeping citations were issued.
The night before, 5 citations were written, and a pregnant woman was arrested.
Tonight they "caught" three. But the Sleeping Ban was not the law they chose to cite under. Could their legal department have told them to stop citing under the law? Officers had no answer for those who begged officers for a place they could go and legally sleep.
"You've been warned," one officer told a sleepy couple he had awakened. "If you stay in this place where people don't want you to be, you will be arrested." It's not like they could stay in the shelter.
According to DANIEL WHITE of the Homeless Services Center, the only shelter that they could stay in during summer is the Paul Lee Loft. It has a 4 - 6 week waiting list and a 30 day limit on staying there.
A reporter from the City on a Hill Press took photos as 72-year old, COLLETTE CONNALLY was awakened, id-checked, cited for illegal "lodging" and left with a yellow citation. Campers rolled out their blankets and went back to sleep. Never a dull moment at Peace Camp.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
More tickets issued at Santa Cruz camping demonstration; protestor arrested for alleged stealing another man's bedroll
found online at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_15776512
SANTA CRUZ -- Police ticketed three demonstrators camping on the City Hall lawn were ticketed early Friday and, later in the morning an argument between two protesters led to an arrest, Santa Cruz police reported.
Friday was the third day the Peace Camp 2010 protest has been held at the city complex.
The demonstration targets the city's camping ordinance, which prohibits sleeping outside between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. It launched in front of the county courthouse on July Fourth and moved to City Hall early Wednesday.
An argument between two protesters around Friday morning merited drew police. One demonstrator claimed another demonstrator stole his bedroll the night before and a security guard told police he overheard the alleged thief threaten the bedroll owner with a knife, Vogel said.
David Hooser, 50, from Washington state, was arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace and theft, police said.
"It's a sad commentary when the participants of Peace Camp 2010 are the ones disturbing each other's peace," Vogel said.
Demonstrators are calling for the City Council to lift the so-called "sleeping ban" and exonerate everyone cited under the law since 1978. They say the tickets are unreasonable because there isn't enough shelter for the city's large homeless population.
City leaders and some homeless advocates have said the protest represents a small group of homeless and that those people are choosing not to take advantage of the city's many homeless services.
The numbers of campers at the protest has declined from nearly 60 at the courthouse to eight when police went to the demonstration around 2:40 a.m. Friday, Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Kevin Vogel said. He credited the reduction to police enforcement.
The camping tickets are less than $100, but if people rack up more than three city ordinance citations and fail to pay the fines, the violations become a misdemeanor.
Of the three people ticketed Friday, two listed the Homeless Services Center on Coral Street as their address. The third told police she was from Indiana but transient, Vogel said. He did not say how long she had been in the area.
Friday, August 13, 2010
by Becky Johnson
August 13 2010
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Peace Camp 2010 has completed its second night at City Hall and the score
Sleeping is legal during the daytime and one of the Peace Camp demonstators takes advantage on August 11th at their new location, City Hall. Photo by Shmuel Thayer/SENTINEL
so far is 2 citations issued for illegal sleeping and one arrest. "Ocean" was arrested last night when he refused to give his name after being rudely awakened by officers in the wee hours of the morning. Ocean was handcuffed and booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.
Meanwhile, after 5 days in jail, Peace Camp 2010 protester, GARY JOHNSON has been released. Gary refused to cooperate with authorities while in jail, refused bail, and went on a hunger strike which he continued throughout his stay. He had been placed in solitary confinement at his own request. GARY donated all of his meals to his fellow inmates, which encouraged them greatly. Two days before his release, his worried brother found a sympathetic sheriff's deputy to check on him. The deputy returned saying Gary was "fine" and that "he'd been eating food for two days." Apparently that report was not correct.
"Police lie," commented protester, LEIGH.
While Peace Camp 2010 is attempting to go back to it's original raison d'etre by starting at 8PM each night and disbanding at 8AM, leaving the public building open and clear for business as usual, a small core of protesters remains during the daytime. For this, the City has bought and paid for a security guard from 8AM to 5PM daily who tells them where they can smoke a cigarette and to keep off of the grass.
Yesterday, RED and TODD HILL reported a hostile encounter with Parks and Rec groundskeeper, MIA DUQUETTE when she threatened to "blow them" if they didn't move.
"I guess she was doing some work around the grounds. She came by to inform everyone that she was going to be using use a leaf blower and that we" should move ourselves and move our things" because "she wouldn't want things blowing around and getting in our eyes," reports TODD HILL.
"I have a pretty decent sarcastic meter and her sarcasm was off the charts". HILL gathered his things and moved off. He did not witness what happened next.
"She had told Christopher that she was going to blow everyone in the space," both RED and CROW reported, the co-owners of an 8-month old miniature chihuahua puppy.
"She put the blower directly on him. She put the blower directly in my puppies face." RED reacted defensively and attempted to flee the scene.
"I walked backwards 10 0r 15 feet and she followed me and put the blower directly in my face."
DUQUETTE was seen a short while later, furiously hoeing on the grounds.
By contrast, both Officer FORBES and the security guard stationed to watch Peace Camp 2010's daytime tabling effort, have been courteous and restrained. Officer Forbes went out of his way to attempt to determine the owner of a shopping cart stuffed with salvaged electronic gear and an old mattress lodged across the street in back of the public library. A City truck came and picked up the garbage to cheers from those at Peace Camp who don't want those kinds of eyesores associated with their protest.
"Curbhugger" Chris Doyon is still suffering from lingering pneumonia which he succumbed to his first night in jail, and now is being exacerbated by sleep deprivation.
"I was handcuffed for four hours straight, and even then not allowed to use the bathroom. I was left in a freezing cold room with only my tee-shirt." DOYON was charged with PC 647 (e), the State anti-lodging law. But at City Hall, so far at least, the State law is being ignored.
That's not the only law being tested. Confusion has arisen over the newly passed smoking ban which bans all smoking at City Hall and on adjacent sidewalks. The ban also bans smoking at all "City buildings" but SCPD officers have been directly smokers to go across the street by the library to smoke, despite saying right on the side of the library "City and County Library." It is also run and funded by the City and is clearly is a "city" building.
One officer told protesters that the public sidewalk is okay but smoking on the brick sidewalk is not. A different officer told them to go across the street. The ordinance itself bans smoking "at all public buildings," which would make smoking in the street the only legal option.
"They just make it up as they go," says LEIGH.
Many ignore the ban and openly smoke anyway. Confusing things even more, one of the trashcans on the City Hall plaza has an ashtray. City Councilmember, DON LANE, who was a big pusher of the anti-smoking ordinance, is also one of the "pro-homeless" city councilmembers. Yet he supports the ban on Sleeping after 11PM citywide.
In today's SENTINEL, in a op-ed piece called "Snooze, You Lose", LANE's position is characterized as being " that people sometimes fail to make the distinction between protesters and transients -- and those who by circumstance or health find themselves without shelter and need help."
Is LANE arguing that we should only shelter the "good" homeless and arrest or cite those who remain sleeping outside of the shelters? Does he think "bad" homeless people should be routinely punished with sleep deprivation as a matter of law? With friends to the homeless like LANE, we don't need enemies. But then LANE has enriched himself off homeless efforts before.
Previously LANE was hired as the only paid employee to aid the Homeless Issues Task Force in 1999-2000. LANE then produced the final report minus the recommendation of that task force that the entire camping ordinance be thrown out or possibly re-written. More recently he urged that smoking be "confined to private places" even though many homeless people smoke tobacco and have no "private places" in which to smoke.
In the wee hours of August 13th, 4 police cruisers arrived with 6 officers to cite or arrest the sleepers. People quickly jumped up, many rolling up their bags, and only one citation was issued to one of the new, homeless youths.
"We at Peace Camp 2010 wonder how the citizens of Santa Cruz feel about this insane waste of resources deployed against a few peaceful people," wrote DOYON on twitter about the raid. The County must be wondering the same thing as they consider what comes next after making 9 arrests and issuing 25 citations for misdemeanor "lodging." 25 jury trials potentially await with defendants who, all but one, qualify for a public defender.
Contrary to reports, no one is TRYING to get cited. "We're trying to get the Sleeping Ban repealed," Doyon said. "No one WANTS to get arrested."
EDITORIAL: SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
found online at: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_15764951
It was a refreshing wake-up call to hear how Santa Cruz police handled the latest protest of the city's camping ban by homeless activists.
The time for warnings has passed, said Deputy Police Chief Kevin Vogel, and demonstrators who show up and sack out at City Hall will be cited.
The SCPD has years, if not decades, of trying to work with activists, who seemingly ignore the fact that Santa Cruz, city and county, provide far more homeless services than most other communities in the country.
The city's ban on sleeping in public places didn't materialize out of thin air. It was enacted with other regulations because residents long ago said enough was enough with having to wade through downtown crowds of panhandlers, drunks and small-time dope dealers, who give the legitimately homeless a bad name.
Santa Cruz's reaction to an incipient demonstration this week stood in stark contrast to what happened outside the county courthouse on Ocean Street for nearly six weeks. Activists, vagrants and homeless folks set up camp, seemingly thumbing their noses at law enforcement and county officials, who took weeks to begin cleaning up a situation that had become intolerable for many county employees trying to get to work and for visitors to the courthouse.
Finally, sheriff's deputies moved in, and the camp moved out. Some of the campers then tried to move their protest to Santa Cruz City Hall.
We agree with Santa Cruz City Councilman Don Lane, who has long worked to support shelter services for the homeless, that people sometimes fail to make the distinction between protesters and transients -- and those who by circumstance or health find themselves without shelter and need help.
We also hope protest supporters read Thursday's Sentinel report, which quoted Monica Martinez, executive director of the Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz. Martinez noted that while there were no shelter beds available the day she was interviewed, only five people had signed up to be placed on a waiting list. Every Monday, she said, beds open for those who need shelter and that people who really want a bed will almost always get one relatively quickly.
If camping ban protesters need a place to sleep, the center is at 115 Coral St. in Santa Cruz's Harvey West area. The phone number is 316-5000.
ROBERT NORSE NOTES:
I responded to this misinformation-laced editorial with a challenge at
I encourage those interested to read it and respond with their thoughts. Also to be ready on fairly short notice, to invite homeless friends to go down to the Homeless Services Center to find the missing beds that both Miller and Martinez claim are there.
I posted this challenge both on Miller's original Thursday blog and on the comment section of his Friday editorial.
Finally, I sent a copy of my challenge to his personal e-mail (email@example.com).
We'll see if he responds.
There's also an upcoming meeting of the Board of Directors at the Homeless Services Center which folks might be interested in attending, either this Thursday or next out there at 115 Coral St. at 5:30 PM. More news on this as I get it.
Wednesday Aug 11th, 2010 1:49 PM
Red, a participant in the Peace Camp 2010 protest against the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban, said that she and about 15 other demonstrators moved to City Hall at 3am on Wednesday, August 11th. The Peace Camp had been at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse since July 4th, and persevered through six Sheriff raids.
"We took it to the city because it's a city problem," said Red. "So we're camped outside the mayor's office." Bob, one of the demonstrators, was reportedly cited for falling asleep in violation of the city's municipal code against sleeping.
In a frank voice, Red proclaimed, "They chase us around, but there really is no place for us to go. They don't have shelter space for us. They are prosecuting us for something we can't help. That's what the Jones decision was about."
"The Eighth Amendment prohibits the City from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles," wrote Judge Kim Wardlaw.
Although Sleeping Bans have been ruled unconstitutional and overturned in several California cities, including San Diego, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles and Richmond, it is still enforced vigorously in Santa Cruz.
"I got three tickets," revealed Red. Then she clarified that Wiley, her Long-haired Chihuahua who is becoming the Peace Camp mascot, actually received one of the three citations. Red reports that Wiley was singled out amongst other dogs with their humans on August 9th while resting in San Lorenzo Park where four-legged barkers are officially banned. Wiley was next to Red and her bag of clothing, while the ticketing Ranger was ignoring other pooches in the park, who apparently were of a higher pedigree.
According to Red, Peace Camp 2010 is now an ongoing, around the clock protest at Santa Cruz City Hall. She said that people can sleep there during the day, which is something spokesperson Chris Doyan was trying to do for a little bit. However, that fundamental human function may be interpreted as being in violation of California's anti-lodging law, PC 647(e), which was used repeatedly by County Sheriffs against demonstrators in the first week of August as they protested at the Courthouse.
During Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban hours, 11pm to 8:30am, Red stated that people had to sit up and be awake while protesting at City Hall, or risk being ticketed for falling asleep. She also said that demonstrators agreed to maintain peace and cleanliness.
The Peace Camp 2010 demands, reports Red, are "lift the Sleeping Ban and amnesty on all tickets." She added, "Give us a place, a tent city. Until we can get back on our feet again."
Actually, it's hard for Red to stand on her feet at all. Sometimes she is pushed around in a cart and other times walks with a cane. Red has a painful degenerative bone disease, also called osteoarthritis, and says that she has been checked out at the county hospital.
Although Red has plans to be back in a vehicle very soon, she says she will, "still demonstrate against the Sleeping Ban because it is wrong."
I also spoke with Red on August 10th, which was the previous day, and published an article with photos titled after a couple signs she displayed: One Big Earthquake and You're All Homeless: End the Sleeping Ban
Chris says he picked up pneumonia on August 7th after spending time in jail where sheriffs kept him in the cold with only a t-shirt after taking his coat.
I passed on a few interviews during my Free Radio Santa Cruz show last night. It's archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb100812.mp3 . Free Radio is still not broadcasting, but it does stream. We still urgently need a location for the transmitter. Contact Dennis at 427-4523 to help.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel published two items on PeaceCamp2010 yesterday:
"Camping Ban Protesters Cited"
"Snooze You Lose in Santa Cruz"
I responded to the second item, an editorial by Sentinel editor Don Miller, laced with misinformation and prejudice with a callenge at http://peacecamp2010.blogspot.com/2010/08/challenge-to-sentinel-editor-don-miller.html .
A related story--about the conclusion of the Permanent Injunction trial of Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon--can be found at
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_15760950?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com ("Trial of couple cited for repeatedly violating city's camping ban ends, ruling due next week").
My comments about this wretched piece of Sentinel scribbling can be found at http://www.topix.net/forum/source/santa-cruz-sentinel/T3HHQTDQLA5JTVU3T about 10 comments in, if you can wade through the Topix slime that comes first.
Snooze, you lose in Santa Cruz
Friday, Aug. 13, Editorial in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
It was a refreshing wake-up call to hear how Santa Cruz police handled the latest protest of the city’s camping ban by homeless activists.
The time for warnings has passed, said Deputy Police Chief Kevin Vogel, and demonstrators who show up and sack out at City Hall will be cited.
The SCPD has years, if not decades, of trying to work with activists, who seemingly ignore the fact that Santa Cruz, city and county, provide far more homeless services than most other communities in the country.
The city’s ban on sleeping in public places didn’t materialize out of thin air, but was enacted with other regulations because residents long ago said enough was enough with having to wade through downtown crowds of panhandlers, drunks and small-time dope dealers, who give the legitimately homeless a bad name.
Santa Cruz’s reaction to an incipient demonstration this week stood in stark contrast to what happened outside the county courthouse on Ocean Street for nearly six weeks. Activists, vagrants and homeless folks set up camp, seemingly thumbing their noses at law enforcement and county officials, who took weeks to begin cleaning up a situation that had become intolerable for many county employees trying to get to work and for visitors to the courthouse.
Finally, sheriff’s deputies moved in, and the camp moved out. Some of the campers then tried to move their protest to Santa Cruz City Hall.
We agree with Santa Cruz City Councilman Don Lane, who has long worked to support shelter services for the homeless, that people sometimes fail to make the distinction between protesters and transients — and those who by circumstance or health find themselves without shelter and need help.
We also hope protest supporters read Thursday’s Sentinel report, which quoted Monica Martinez, executive director of the Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz. Martinez noted that while there were no shelter beds available the day she was interviewed, only five people had signed up to be placed on a waiting list. Every Monday, she said, beds open for those who need shelter and that people who really want a bed will almost always get one relatively quickly.
If camping ban protesters need a place to sleep, the center is located at 115 Coral Street in Santa Cruz’s Harvey West area and the phone number is 831-316-5000