Homeless protest defendants in court
Several demonstrators arrested at the county courthouse this summer who were accused of violating California's unlawful lodging law are expected to challenge the charges today, citing a combination of state and federal protections.
Attorney Ed Frey, an advocate for the homeless who was among those arrested, will represent the defendants, who participated in a demonstration deemed Peace Camp 2010. The protest was designed to criticize the city of Santa Cruz's overnight camping ban, but got muddied when city police declined to cite or arrest the demonstrators because the courthouse is county property.
Sheriff's deputies eventually began making arrests and issuing citations before the demonstration moved to City Hall, where police also issued a number of tickets. Today's case relates to the sheriff's cases, which are based on the state's lodging law.
In a statement issued Thursday, Frey said he intends to argue the charges should be thrown out because they violate the First and Ninth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as parts of the California Constitution and the principle of due process. The defendants are slated to appear at 1:30 p.m. before Judge John Gallagher in Department 2.