SANTA CRUZ - Two men arrested during a lengthy homeless protest last year on the steps of Santa Cruz County Superior Court and City Hall were sentenced Friday to six months in County Jail.

Homeless activist and attorney Ed Frey, 69, and Gary Johnson, 47, were "remanded into custody" directly from the courtroom of Judge John Gallagher.

The case began July 4, 2010, in what activists called Peace Camp 2010. Initially, it comprised a group of more than 50 who began sleeping and holding signs and more on the courthouse steps. It lasted roughly three months, before sheriff's deputies began warning, ticketing and arresting protestors under a criminal misdemeanor law for unlawful lodging and the protest died.

Protestors included one elderly woman with serious health problems who seemed committed to a cause she ardently believed in, and others who included, one day, a registered sex offender arrested near City Hall.

Without doubt, it was political. Sheriff's deputies waded in cautiously after protestors and others realized that though they were protesting the city's so-called "camping ban," they were actually on county property.

Frey faced three misdemeanor counts and Johnson faced four, prosecutors said.

In April, Frey represented himself and others in a legal challenge and jurors upheld the charges against most of the five people Frey was then representing. Friday, he was representing three people, one who didn't come to court, prosecutors said.

And though Frey alleged juror misconduct, Gallagher denied his request for a new trial.

The judge offered the two men a sentence of community service and probation with minimal supervision plus an agreement they don't camp at the courthouse, prosecutor Sara Dabkowski said. But the men declined. Johnson said, given his life situation, he could not abide by the probation directive to "abide by all laws," she said.

So Gallagher ordered the men to jail on the maximum six-month sentence for a misdemeanor criminal violation, Dabkowski said. They will be released after serving two-thirds of the sentence, or 108 days.

Dabkowski said Frey can appeal and has at least 30 days to file a notice of intent to appeal.

She said the three others who Frey represented at trial either did not come to court or have not been sentenced and that warrants have been issued for at least two of them. One, Eliot "Bob" Anderson, was not convicted, as the jury "hung" on his one count of violating the anti-lodging law, she said. The other two are Arthur Bishoff and Collette Connolly. Bishoff was due in court Friday, and was still being represented by Frey, Dabkowski said.

Because the law targets sleeping in public for those who don't have a home, Frey had challenged its essence on constitutional, human rights and other grounds.

After the protest, the city said tickets for violating the city's law against sleeping outside at night can be invalidated if a person gets a statement from the Homeless Services Center stating there were no beds for them that night.

In a July 11, 2010 guest editorial published in the Sentinel about that change, Frey stated that still amounts to "pre-judgment punishing" on top of the punishment of being awakened by police in the middle of the night when one has nowhere to lawfully sleep. The new policy requires "the accused to run three separate errands" to obtain a dismissal, he stated.

"We set our protest at the courthouse for one simple reason," Frey wrote. "That is the only place left where freedom, justice and peace in the world can start."

Friday, asked to comment, Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Don Lane said, "The risk you take when you do civil disobedience is you are expecting some consequences for that. That is part of what he took on here. They were really trying to make a political statement in this action."

Lane, a longtime advocate for the homeless, looks to the day when there is enough shelter to serve that population. But Lane said, "There are other folks who are advocates for civil rights, and that's fine. But that is not my focus. Their goal is to change that law (the city law), and my goal is to get people into shelter."

Dabkowski simply said it's her job to enforce the law.

A public defender, after court, volunteered the information that jail time costs the county $77 per day per person.