I and Robert Facer were found guilty of "unreasonably disturbing" a day sleeper on Pacific Avenue in mid-afternoon with political songs in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz. Peacecamp2010 continues its nightly testimony against the Sleeping Ban. Councilmember Katherine Beiers will be meeting with HUFFsters and other interested folks 1:30 PM today in front of City Hall; Councilmember Don Lane meets with us tomorrow at 2 PM at Joe's Pizza (across from New Leaf Market on Pacific Ave.) And coming back on the City Council agenda is the final reading of the "Tickets for the Shelterless" Sleeping Ban changes on the 28th.THE GUILTY VERDICT
I'm still digesting the fanciful and vindictive verdict of Commissioner Kim Baskett in the Sinister Sidewalk Singing Case (see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/20/18659348.php and follow the links for background). I'll be playing an audio of Baskett's ruling and analyzing it on my Thursday 9-23 show at 6:30 PM. We are currently assessing legal resources as we consider an appeal.
COUNCILMEMBER MEETINGS TODAY AND TOMORROW
The public is invited to attend the two meetings--which will be recorded for broadcast on Free Radio Santa Cruz. The issues to be focused on concern the recent Pacific Avenue crackdown, the closing of public spaces, accessing public records, the upcoming Sleeping Ban ordinance, and other matters that particular impact poor and homeless people. If you can't attend but want certain questions asked, please forward them to me at rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com.
PEACECAMP2010 UNDER HEAVY ATTACK
With the first four misdemeanor "lodging" citations hitting the courts for arraignment today (Curbhugger Chris Doyon has 1; 72-year old Collette Connolly has 3), police cracked down last night with more citations for people who have no legal place to sleep. They also ticketed attorney Ed Frey for solidarity sleeping with the protesters and for bringing a portapotty (the City has no public bathrooms open at night). More details on this later. I'll also hope to post a report from Curbhugger Chris on how court went this morning--the two face misdemeanor charges and jury trials for their peaceful protest at the County Building in July. Connolly is still on the waiting list, but still getting tickets from the City.
CITY COUNCIL MAKEOVER OF SLEEPING BAN RETURNS FOR SECOND READING
The Council's legal cover for the City Attorney and the SCPD in their continuing campaign to harass homeless people who have no shelter will be buffed up next Tuesday (See "Camping Ordinance Revisions Pass at City Council" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/16/18658837.php ) The ordinance puts Homeless Service Center bureaucrats in the catseat to decide who gets an early dismissal of their ticket from the City Attorney's office and who doesn't. I've invited Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC, to come to the Beiers and/or Lane meetings today and tomorrow.
More Homeless Human Rights Updates
Some brief comments on Councilwoman Beier's meeting with folks on the sidewalk in the "forbidden zone" next to the library...the upcoming Robert "Blindbear" Facer appeal of his Sleeping Ban convictions today at 4 PM...More tickets and arraignments for PC2010...HUFF is heading for UCSC next Wednesday in support of Steve Pleich for City Council and Outreach to the Students--Stevenson college 2 PM 9-29....Councilmember Lane's upcoming meeting today 1:30 PM at Joe's Pizza on Pacific Avenue
In the recent past, Councilmember Beiers supported the anti-homeless expansion of Forbidden Zones on Pacific Avenue in early 2009 (increasing the "security space" around statues, directory signs, benches, and other obstructions on Pacific Avenue. She supported the "don't pay off three ridiculous infractions". and the City Attorney canc charge you with a new "Failure to Pay" misdemeanor crime. In July, she backed the "ignore three sleeping tickets" and the fourth becomes a misdemeanor--even though there's no shelter space.
And yesterday she refused to commit herself to changing any of these votes. She also declined to promise that she'd agree to allow the public to discuss consent agenda items as they do in other cities. She insisted that Homeless Services Center Monica Martinez had provided verbal confirmation that there were 2-3 walk-in spaces per week at the Paul Lee Loft (meaning that each month there are walk-in spaces for a total of 12 people not on waiting lists for a total of 1500-2000 homeless in Santa Cruz, with 40-60 of those currently on waiting lists for shelter).
On the plus (?) side, Beiers took notes and agreed to ask our new City Fuhrer (City Manager Martin Bernal) for the paperwork and rationale behind his latest closing of City Hall, the Library grounds, and the police station grounds at night without the required legal participation of the Parks and Recreation Commission (and in the case of the library, without the authorization of the library board). However she said she didn't want to bring up the matter publicly at City Council.
When asked if she'd sponsor a real modification of the sleeping ban that might read: "“Police shall call the HSC during business hours to determine if there are any beds available. If there aren't, they shall issue no citations that night under MC 6.36.010 unless provision MC 6.36.070 is violated" ]Proposed MC 6.36.070: "An individual who sleeps, camps, or sets up bedding on any public properrty in the City of Santa Cruz between the hours of 11 PM and 8:30 AM is responsible for assuring that area is clean and free of litter and debris of all sorts. If a radius of 15' around the person's sleeping area is not free of such debris, that person is guilty of an infraction." ...she said "no--not without a second."
She agreed to "get back to us" on a number of matters, but since I originally e-mailed her last year on some of these and other issues, again in March, and again this summer, it may be long fall before we get any answers at all, much less substantive ones.
In her favor, she was a amiable as ever, hung out without self-consciousness, and sat down with the riffraff. Perhaps a last memorial sitdown before the library benches begin to disappear along with the rest of the downtown benches in the city's attempt to "thin out" the homeless population downtown and disperse all First Amendment protest at night.
She patiently listened to a lot of criticism, but expressed no willingness to change her positions--as far as I coiuld see.. I'll be playing our discussion on Sunday morning Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.1 FM (http://www.freakradio.org) probably around 8:30 AM.
BLINDBEAR'S BRAVE APPEAL
Attorney Ed Frey will be taking the two convictions of Peace Camp 2010 musician and activist Robert "Blindbear" Facer to a 3-man appeal court today at 4 PM--I think it's Dept. 5, but show up and check the calenders. Hmm, I got that info from Frey (pronounced "fry") himself, but it's my understanding that the courts usually close at 3 PM, so call the courts to confirm this info. The Facer case was discussed at "Baskett and Barisone Bludgeon the Bums: Shoring Up the Sleeping Ban in a Court Trial " http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/04/18627796.php .
CITY COPS DEATH OF A THOUSAND CUTS CONTINUES
Even as Collette Connolly and Chris Doyon had pre-trial dates set, taking on Ed Frey as their defense counsel, Collette and Gary Johnson (whose arraignment is today at 8:30 AM) got tickets two nights running. Sleeping ban tickets on nights when there simply is no legal shelter for the overwhleming majority of those outside. Tickets that will be dismissed by the necessity defense, even if the city attorney/service provider's new tactic is to insist you have been on a "waiting list" to have a letter issued or a city attorney dismiss your ticket. Instead, victims will simply have to subpoena shetler bureaucrats to testify that they had no space that night.
MEETINGS, MEETINGS, EVER MORE MEETINGS
Councilmember (and backer of anti-homeless laws) Don Lane meets with homeless advocates today at 1:30 PM at Joe's Pizza in another recorded conversation to be rebroadcast later. That's downtown on Pacific Avenue next to the Pacific Cookie Company, at Soquel and Pacific.
HUFF hits UCSC next Wednesday at Stevenson College with an outreach meeting to mobilize the somnolent student population in support of restoring public space, public dialogue, public accessibility, and civil rights, as well as backing lone civil libertarian Steve Pleich, whose underfunded campaign is looking for support. Pleich is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Pleich/100000740321530 and needs money!
FOR MORE GO TO http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/23/18659586.php?show_comments=1#comments
A three-judge panel of Symons, Burdick, and Marigonda turned down an appeal by attorney Ed Frey on behalf of "sleep criminal" Robert Blindbear Facer yesterday in Department 3. The panel refused to accept Frey's new Constitutional arguments, saying they hadn't been included in the original briefs. Frey responded that he hadn't heard from the Court regarding the latest challenge from City Attorney John Barisone. The Court's original postponement of the Facer case prompted Frey and others to begin a protest in front of the Courthouse July 4th which subsequently came to be known as Peacecamp2010. In response to the court's refusal to uphold Facer's right to sleep outside on a night when there was no indoor shelter, PC2010 has moved back to its original focal point at the Courthouse.
PC2010 sleeper Gary Johnson was jailed last night around 3 AM after receiving two tickets for "continued sleeping" on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. The City Hall grounds have been barred to protesters at night, as has the library grounds across the street--though there were no reports of vandalism or any other crimes there. Johnson was arrested, caught a nap on a bench in the jail, and was released two hours later, at which point, he says, he returned to the City Hall sidewalk to resume his night's rest.
This may indicate a new strategy by the SCPD, to arrest sleepers protesting the City's anti-homeless Sleeping Ban, if they continue to sleep after having been wakened by police. Since shelters are full, police have no place to send sleepers, and some have called the wake-up's a direct violation of the right to privacy, a form of torture banned by international law, and a transparent "drive the poor out of sight" tactic designed to reassure merchants searching for convenient scapegoats in the current depression.
Gary was also arraigned earlier yesterday on charges of "illegal lodging", the state penal code (647e) being used to harass and criminalize the Sleeping Ban protesters. Art F., who had been held in jail on bail for "chronic sleeping" was able to get the judge to modify his OR condition, which for a month had banned him from protesting at City Hall and the Courthouse along with other PC2010 because of his "criminal" nighttime sleeping there. Ed Frey now has 5 "illegal lodger" cases including Gary, Chris, Collette, Art, and himself. Public defenders are also reportedly extremely interested in the cases.
PC2010 supporters have held hour-long discussions with Councilmembers Beiers and Lane in the last two days, to be aired Sunday on FRSC (Beiers at 8:30 AM, Lane at 10:30 AM, or possibily on a later broadcast). Neither Councilmember has given a commitment to expose and correct police and city staff abuses such as closing down public spaces illegally, seizing homeless property, confiscating political signs and tables, and setting up sleep-destroying klieg lights at night. Both Councilmembers voted for harsher penalties for the homeless for repeated violations of the Sleeping Ban and refused to reverse those votes--which essentially make the Sleeping Ban a misdemeanor offense if 3 tickets have been sent to "Failure to Pay" status.
A new "dismissing tickets only for those on the shelter waiting list" amendment to the Camping Ordinance is coming up for a final vote at City Council on Tuesday.
Lane and Beiers indicated they wouldn't support Frey's demand that police be required to contact the HSC each night to see if there are actually beds available (which the HSC has acknowledged is infrequently the case) and then not issue citations if there are no beds. The rationale here is that tickets would be that the court dismisses ticket under the "necessity defenses" anyway because of the ongoing lack of shelter, so the issuance of those tickets in the first place is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Such was determined to be the case in the Jones case in Los Angeles in 2007. The city is under court order not to enforce its Sleeping Ban, as is San Diego. Santa Cruz's City Attorney, City Council, and new City Manager have refused to change the City's law to stop police harassment of the homeless community at night.
In an extended phone conversation yesterday, Homeless Services Center Executive Director Monica Martinez said she would take a number of concerns back to her staff and Board--including the proposal that the HSC issue receipts indicating that a person was on their waiting list, a clarification of what excludes you from the waiting list and how many are excluded, as well as other concerns.
Martinez did not acknowledge that the HSC's new requirement to be on a waiting list was added after the establishment of PC 2010 as an apparent anti-protest response. She said she would confer with her staff and Board of Directors regarding restoring the old policy (though she said she'd thought that had always been the policy). The Board of Directors regular monthly meeting was last night. Martinez asked that I not distort or misstate her position, though she provided no specifics as to where this had been done in the past. I suggested that I'd be happy to correct any errors if they were brought to my attention.
The HSC has so far refused to provide a broader letter--requested by PC2010 supporters at the HSC Board meeting in August. The letter would acknowledge that from April 15 to November 15, there are generally no beds available for "walk-in"'s The waiting list, according to Martinez is 2-6 weeks and 40-60 people long. There may be 2-3 walk-in's beds available each week if staff can't find people at the Center to take them. That makes an average of 60 beds over the 4-15 to 11-15 period (each available only for a period of three months total for any person during that time) fpr an estimated 1500-2000 homeless population in Santa Cruz, all of whom face potential ticketing under the 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a).
In response to the Facer appeal and perhaps to increase their visibility, PC2010sters have relocated back to area in front of the Courthouse, where they had previously slept and protested for a month. The downtown's only all-night portapotty moved with them and will be available there. The City staff closed the portapotties set up by Bathroom Task Force in 1999 (affectionately known as the Krohn Krapper Kommission) and never established public bathrooms as proposed by the City Council a decade ago.
Claims by Mayor Rotkin and others that vandalism, drug use, and prostitution stop the city from providing adequate sanitation facilities seems to be belied by PC2010's experience. I've never heard of any of those problems there (though the thing does get so much use it becomes quite funky in the 24 hours before it's emptied each week).
Frey also announced that the protest would be a nighttime only affair. An 8 PM to 8 AM protest that would be gone by dawn (or soon thereafter). As of 4:40 AM, I'd received no reports of sheriff or police harassment. Prior the sheriff crackdown at PC2010 in early August, the area provided a safe sleeping spot for dozens of homeless people with no legal place to go.
More info may be available at http://www.peacecamp2010.blogspot.com . Those seeking to restore the right to sleep legally in Santa Cruz can also be contacted directly at PC2010 at 701 Ocean St. in front of the courthouse from 8 PM to 8 AM.
More info and critical commentary at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/24/18659697.php?show_comments=1#18659713