Pushback in Laguna Beach; Repression in Santa Cruz

NOTES BY NORSE:  Some HUFF activists have successfully pressed former Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone for exemption from some provisions of the Downtown Ordinance for disabled people.

Specifically “Push Back” Pat Colby has secured verbal (but not written) assurance that she will not be hassled under the hourly “Move Along” law.  This unique burdensome ordinance (MC 5.43.020(2) has the effect if not the intention of discouraging and burdening vendors, performers, panhandlers,and political tablers by requiring them to move 100′ every hour (to one of the increasingly few “legal” spots) and not to return for 24 hours.  Fines for violation are more than $300 and the ordinance has never been challenged beyond the trial court level.

In Santa Cruz, there’s been no acknowledgment of the needs of disabled folks around MC 6.36 (the Camping Ordinance which includes broad Sleeping, Blanket, and Camping bans).  Fines of $157 and Stay-Away orders are regularly levied against homeless people with no consideration of their possible disabled status.   To make matters worse, even the sketchy protection given by the “dismiss if on waiting lists of shelters” provisions of MC 6.36.055 have become inapplicable.

Giving private agencies like the Paul Lee Loft and River St. Shelter broad power to pick and choose who they’ll spare from the punishment of the Sleeping Ban has itself been a discriminatory problem. I have been unsuccessful in getting clear data from the City Attorney’s office as to how many homeless people are still ending up punished and prosecuted in spite of the obvious shelter deficiency.

However recently, in search of federal and state money, the Homeless (Lack of)Services Center has completely closed down all broader services to the general homeless population including meals, laundry, showers, and bathrooms.  Those without a “pathway to housing” may not be able to get on the River St. Shelter waiting list, and the Paul Lee list no longer exists.  Hence the whole homeless population of 1500-2000 in the City face the ticketing whim of cops and rangers urged on by right-wing bigots in the Santa Cruz Neighbors, Marlin Granlund’s Public Works Parking Dept., the Downtown Association, Take Back Santa Cruz, and other homeless-aphobic groups public and private.

The federal government has recently weighed legally–noting sleeping bans in cities with inadequate shelter are cruel and unusual punishments in the Bell v. Boise case.  This has tongues wagging, but no lawyers writing briefs here yet.

Meanwhile Freedom Sleepers, the group now planning its 8th challenge to the Sleeping Ban with a mass sleep-out on the City Hall grounds on September 1st, continues to face considerable police harassment.

Police removedtwo key Freedom Sleeper activists  in handcuffs charging them with felony “conspiracy” and “vandalism” charges, punishable by years in prison.   Their “crime”=-unrelated to the Freedom Sleeper protests is satirizing and exposing the City’s illegal constriction of public free expression space downtown through its demeaning and unconstitutional “blue boxes”.   After city officials illegally reduced the number of boxes, someone added additional blue marks creating more boxes on the sidewalk designated “free speech zones” where artists, activists, and street folks generally are allowed to socialize, rest, and table.  This apparently was done without concealment under the video surveillance of numerous cameras on Pacific Avenue.

City officials had earlier violated MC 5.43.005 (c) and (d) by proceeding to create new smaller “allowed” areas without City Council Resolution.  Police harassed, then arrested artists who used the older areas sandblasted away by the city officials.  See “Unpermitted Blue Boxes Appear Overnight on Pacific Avenue” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/08/24/18776595.php .                       The officials however were not taken into custody and required to pay $5000 bail to get out.  Keith McHenry goes to his initial hearing August 31 at 8:15 AM where Food Not Bombs will be serving a meal.  Freedom Sleepers  will return to City Hall grounds for their 8th sleepout on the evening of September 1st .

                          Meanwhile we’re still awaiting some movement from the local ACLU to take legal action on behalf of homeless people here–or at least those who are disabled–regarding the right to sleep–not anywhere and everywhere, but somewhere.  And to defend McHenry and others being punished for exposing the City’s crackdown on street performers.

 

ACLU Sues Laguna Beach Over Treatment of Homeless People

By jgallego August 20, 2015 at 12:43 PM

http://voiceofoc.org/2015/08/aclu-sues-laguna-beach-for-discriminating-against-the-homeless/

Nearly a decade after ACLU Foundation of Southern California sued Laguna Beach over the city’s and police department’s handling of homeless residents, the organization has again sued the city for failing to provide adequate facilities for  homeless people with mental and physical disabilities.

In a Thursday press release, ACLU SoCal said it seeks to require city officials to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by providing supported housing appropriate for the chronically homeless with disabilities. Following is the press release and a link to the suit:

Laguna Beach, CA – The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) and the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP today sued the City of Laguna Beach for discriminating against homeless individuals with disabilities.
 
Currently, the city’s homelessness program provides only limited emergency shelter – often inaccessible to persons with disabilities – yet mandates strict enforcement of laws prohibiting sleeping in public, even against those who cannot access this shelter. 
 
The lawsuit, brought on behalf of five chronically homeless individuals with mental and physical disabilities, including a homeless veteran, seeks to require Laguna Beach officials to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by providing needed supportive housing – that is housing with wrap-around services such as mental health care and case management – appropriate for chronically homeless persons with disabilities.   
 
“Laguna Beach is best known as an affluent, idyllic seaside art colony, but a small, yet significant portion of the population suffers from mental and physical disabilities that leave them unable to access housing,” said Kristopher Wood, an attorney with Paul Hastings. “The City refuses to provide permanent supportive housing that would alleviate the problem; yet continues to cite physically and mentally disabled homeless individuals who have no other option for sleeping outdoors.  That conduct is simply illegal under the ADA and the Constitution.”

The lawsuit also challenges the city’s practice of ticketing disabled, homeless persons who cannot access this shelter for sleeping or lodging in public as cruel and unusual punishment. 
 
“The city has adopted a strategy that punishes homeless individuals with disabilities,” said Heather Maria Johnson, a staff attorney with the ACLU SoCal’s Dignity for All Project. “Unfortunately, the tactics are not new and what is happening in Laguna Beach is all too commonplace. But the difference in this case is the city has chosen to ignore the issue despite being put on notice years ago.”

In 2008, the ACLU SoCal challenged a Laguna Beach ordinance that allowed police to ticket homeless individuals who had no other place to sleep. That case was quickly settled, with the city agreeing to repeal sections of the ordinance that prohibited sleeping or camping in public places. Following that lawsuit, a shelter was established.
 
However, after the end of the settlement period, Laguna Beach officials reinstated the old prohibitions and police resumed ticketing homeless individuals, the vast majority of whom have mental or physical disabilities and often have difficulty accessing the shelter. The current lawsuit challenges the city’s new strategy. 
 
“With a population of just over 23,000, Laguna Beach is a very welcoming place for some.” said Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director of ACLU SoCal’s Orange County office.  “But if you happen to be a homeless resident with disabilities, the city makes sure to let you know you are not welcome. This is a city with the resources to address the issue as required by law.” Continue reading

HUFF moves from Sleep-Out to Talk-In, Meets 8-26 Wednesday Sub Rosa 11 AM

Sleepy HUFFsters:  Survivors of the 7th Freedom Sleepers Event at City Hall tonight and any others interested are invited to staggerover to the Sub Rosa at 11 AM at 703 Pacific Ave.  I have been assured the Cafe will be open for business (unlike last week when we had to have a coffee-less meeting).

On the agenda:  City Council’s Silence on Emergency Shelter…Proposed Actions Targeting Upcoming New City Staff Horrors (RV Crackdown)…Hopeful Federal Signs in the Wind?…and more as long as we can stay awake…

HUFFin’ Down the Road: Sub Rosa 8-19 11 AM

Agenda Likelies:   Cafe HUFF and/or HUFF at the Heavies visit sometime in the next week to P & R Director Dannette Shoemaker to clarify whether a Stay-Away Order is now a mandatory part of every in fraction; the Proposed RV parking ban city-wide at night likely to be on the next City Council agenda; Support for the Freedom Sleepers;  liaison with the ongoing Sacramento struggle to ban harassment of RV resters…and all this over cup after cup of free coffee!

Cautionary Note:  Our membership may be reduced if police choose to use stern measures to abrogate our basic right to peaceful protest near City Hall.  In theory arrests could prevent some members from attending.  In this case, I encourage folks to proceed with those items on the agenda they fancy.

I also encourage folks to visit the Freedom Sleepers Sleep-Out tonight, even if you choose not to stay.  It will be going from 5 PM through 7  AM tomorrow (Wednesday) morning

Round 6: Freedom Sleepers Resume Protest at City Hall

Title: Round 6: Freedom Sleepers Resume Protest at City Hall
START DATE: Tuesday August 18
TIME: 5:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location Details:
In the courtyard at Santa Cruz City Hall at 809 Center St.

The event will run from 5 PM on Tuesday to 8 AM on Wednesday. Santa Cruz City Hall It’s across from the Main Library and the Civic Auditorium.

Event Type: Other
Contact Name Phil Posner (commentary by Norse)
Email Address chatrabbi [at] aol.com
Phone Number
Address
For the fifth night this summer, a Coalition of Camp of Last Resort/Homeless Dept, HUFF, Food Not Bombs, & Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project as well as others will be trying to spend a night near City Hall.

City Hall is where Santa Cruz City Council meets, where the offices of the Mayor and City Councilmembers are. The staff who runs the City;s anti-homeless programs also work in buildings nearby. Activists will be protesting MC 6.36.010a–the City’s Sleeping Ban.

EMERGENCY SERVICES SHUT DOWN
The Homeless (Lack of) Services Center has formally acknowledged the wholesale, conscious, and systematic shutdown of all emergency services from the City-County “Shelter Provider”

This eliminates all meals, showers, laundry, and toilet access except for clients in programs, aborting the original purpose of 115 Coral St. The County’s report can be seen at http://sccounty01.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/BDS/Govstream2/Bdsvdata/non_legacy_2.0/agendas/2015/20150818-666/PDF/013.pdf

There is no provision for opening up walk-in campgrounds or legal places for overnight survival sleeping in cars.

LAST COUNCIL MEETING SHUTS OFF COMMENT
Many speakers were cut off by Mayor Lane–and no Councilmember offered to extend the Oral Communications time.

There’ll be a mid-evening snack later, and morning coffee at 7 AM after the sleep-in.

“PUNISHMENT FOR SLEEP” LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTINUES
1500-2000 homeless people in Santa Cruz for the general population face $157 citations and harassment for sleeping in parks–but have no legal place to go.

In addition they most avoid the safety of groups and well-lighted areas. They have no real option to call police for problems because they face citations themselves.

COUNCIL STAFF PLOTS FUTURE ATTACKS ON POOR
Last Tuesday’s City Council had no restoration of services nor providing of any moderation of the harsh anti-homeless laws.

In fact, new laws have been proposed by the City Manager for next week involving the banning RV parking 2 AM – 6 AM city-wide and elimination of “ovedrsized” parking spots. See http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/home/showdocument?id=44947

WAITING LIST UNCERTAINTY
Up to now, city law (MC 6.36.055) has required dismissal of all camping tickets for those on the Waiting Lists of the Paul Lee loft and the River St. Shelter. HLOSC Director Jannan Thomas met with Freedom Sleepers today and announced there is no longer a Paul Lee Loft Waiting List.

The status of the River St. Shelter Waiting List continues to be unclear. Prior word from the River St. Shelter indicates they only provide beds for people with a social worker, a referral, or out of the hospital. On Sunday night, Alexi, a disabled woman, was reportedly denied a bed there.

With no waiting list for the Paul Lee Loft and a highly restricted list for the River St. Shelter, sleepers will no longer have the protection of those lists and will have a harder task confronting these cruel “drive the homeless out of town” tickets.

This essentially means the end of all Emergency Services in Santa Cruz–other than those with religious requirements or the limited help provided by Food Not Bombs and other samaritans.

POLICE APPARENTLY TARGET PHOTOGRAPHERS; IGNORE LAW
Police intensified their crackdown last Tuesday with citations for four journalist/photographers there for “being in a park after hours”.

Israel Dawson was arrested for not getting his ID quickly enough and charged with “resisting arrest”. Lauren Dawson and Robert Norse both received 24-hour Stay-Away orders as well as $198 citations for being in a park after dark.

All four of the journalists cited or arrested are slated to return to report on the struggle to restore basic human rights at City Hall and for the homeless community all around the City.

Police ignored the clear wording of MC 13.04.011 which holds you can be on an access pathway through the closed area.

They also ignored the more fundamental right to be outside City Hall at night to petition for a redress of grievanceds as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. and California Constitutions.

How City officials can allow police to ban people from reading publicly posted city agendas at night is still a mystery to many of us. Particularly since state lazw requires the agendas be publicly available 24-hours-a-day for 72 hours before any public meeting.

GET READY TO BED DOWN!
Join us in pajamas and bathrobes (teddy bears optional) if you wish to support the Right to Rest.

For die-hards and a third round of coffee, HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be meeting at 703 Pacific at the Sub Rosa Cafe (next to the Bike Church) 11 AM Wednesday morning the 19th.

To review last Tuesday’s protest, see “Santa Cruz Police Arrest Journalist and Issue Stay Away Orders at Community Sleepout #5″ at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/08/16/18776253.php

This posting reflects my perspective and hopefully that of other activists. Living it is better than reading about it. Come and do your part.

Continue reading

Santa Cruz Police Arrest Journalist and Issue Stay Away Orders at Community Sleepout #5

Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

On August 11, community members in Santa Cruz held their fifth in a series of sleepouts organized at City Hall to protest local laws that make it illegal for homeless people to sleep in public. Police arrived at midnight and citations were issued to many in the group of demonstrators who were attempting to sleep in the courtyard as an act of civil disobedience. 24-hour stay away orders were issued to at least two of those present, and a journalist who has been documenting the whole series of protests was arrested and taken to jail. After police left, most of the protesters remained and slept on the sidewalk until the next morning. They have announced their next action is planned for the evening of Tuesday, August 18, again to be located at Santa Cruz City Hall. [Top photo: Police issue citations at Santa Cruz City Hall on August 11. Scroll down for more photos.]

 

 

The courtyard area of Santa Cruz City Hall is closed to the public at night, which is one of the issues homeless rights demonstrators have been targeting. Their desire is to see city parks opened at night so that people without homes will have a place to go where they are not targeted by law enforcement.Another focus of the protests has been the local Sleeping/Camping Ban, which prohibits sleeping in public (with or without setting up bedding) in the city between the hours of 11pm and 8:30am. The ordinance also criminalizes sleeping in cars.

The sleepout on August 11 may have been the first time the city’s parks stay away ordinance has been used against political protesters and journalists.

Many of those participating in the campouts are now calling themselves, “Freedom Sleepers.”

They first arrived at City Hall at 3pm. The weather was warm and some individuals took advantage of the solar shower booth organizers set-up in the courtyard. A duo played music in the courtyard through the campers’ PA system as the city council meeting began inside. Adjacent to council chambers, snacks were provided on a Food Not Bombs table, which also displayed crates marked, “Free Produce & Groceries.”

Later in the afternoon, the campers made their first appearance at a city council meeting. They have been holding the sleepouts at City Hall since July, but the council had been out of session for summer vacation.

During the public oral communications period, they each used their two-minute turn at the city council podium to read sections from a recent statement of interest filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in a legal case involving an ordinance which bans sleeping and camping in public places in Boise, Idaho.

Activists in Santa Cruz, as well as those opposing sleeping bans in other cities across the country, have applauded the DOJ’s involvement in the case, and hope this will lead to the repeal of the ordinances.

The DOJ is taking the position that laws that criminalize homelessness violate the “Cruel and Unusual Punishments” Clause of the Eighth amendment of the U.S Constitution.

“Pursuant to that clause, the Supreme Court has held that laws that criminalize an individual’s status, rather than specific conduct, are unconstitutional,” the statement of interest states.

The statement of interest also notes that under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the federal government may enforce the rights of individuals to be free from, “unconstitutional and abusive policing.”

The DOJ also mentioned in its conclusion that the lack of available space in homeless shelters should be a measure of whether camping ordinances can be enforced:

“For the reasons stated above, the Court should adopt the analysis in Jones to evaluate Boise’s anti-camping and disorderly conduct ordinances as applied to Plaintiffs in this case. If the Court finds that it is impossible for homeless individuals to secure shelter space on some nights because no beds are available, no shelter meets their disability needs, or they have exceeded the maximum stay limitations, then the Court should also find that enforcement of the ordinances under those circumstances criminalizes the status of being homeless and violates the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.”

The public was only allowed 30 minutes to speak, and some of the sleep activists were not given the chance to address the council. The meeting eventually adjourned at 10pm. Shortly after that the campers began to spread out in the courtyard and turn in for the night. Some of the protesters have houses of their own to go to, while others in the group are houseless and live on the street.

Police conducted a raid on the sleepout at around midnight.

When they arrived, one man was sleeping next to his wheelchair, which he parked on the walkway near the entrance to council chambers. He was cited, but he maintained his ground and slept in the same location until morning.

About ten officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department, lead by Sgt. Forbus, arrived during the raid. Forbus appeared to be video recording protesters with an Apple iPad device. Several sheriff’s deputies responded as well, but not until after the courtyard had already been cleared by the SCPD.

Many were issued citations for being in the courtyard after-hours and were told to move to the narrow portion of the sidewalk in front of City Hall. The sidewalk, however, was not a safe zone either, and individuals were issued citations for obstructing the sidewalk.

During the raid, videographer Israel Dawson was abruptly arrested while in the act of recording and documenting the protest. As they handcuffed his wrists together from behind, police accused him of walking away from them when they were trying to get his name. He was booked into county jail on the charge of resisting arrest. His assistant, Lauren Benson, was holding a boom microphone that was wired to Dawson’s video camera at the time of the arrest. She was issued a citation for being in the City Hall courtyard after hours, in addition to a 24-hour stay away order. Dawson and Benson have been documenting the series of sleepouts for Dawson’s final project in the Social Documentation Master of Arts program at UC Santa Cruz.

Homeless rights advocate Robert Norse was also issued a 24-hour stay away order by police after he entered the courtyard area and walked along the main pathway to council chambers. He argued it was the public’s right to use the pathway to access the city council agenda, but was issued a citation by police regardless.

The parks stay away ordinance was adopted by the city council in 2013 as a method of eliminating “problem” behavior in public parks. Under the ordinance, a park user can potentially be banned for 24 hours after receiving one citation of any type in a city park. Repeated citations can lead to a person being banned from a park for up to a year, and a violation of a stay away order can result in a misdemeanor arrest, which is punishable by jail time.

After the police finished the raid and left, several individuals did return to the courtyard area, but most in the group decided to sleep on the sidewalk in front of City Hall that evening, where they stayed until the morning.

For more information about the Freedom Sleepers, see:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/380115462197408/

To read the DOJ statement of interest filed in the Boise case, see:
http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/643766/download

Alex Darocy
http://alexdarocy.blogspot.com/

Author’s Note: In the course of photographing and reporting on this event during the evening of August 11/12, I was also issued a citation by police for being in the City Hall courtyard after hours.

§Santa Cruz City Hall

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§City Hall courtyard

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§City Hall courtyard hours

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

 

 

To read the DOJ statement of interest filed in the Boise case, see:
http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/643766/download

§Freedom Sleeper Rabbi Philip Posner speaks to the city council

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

On the left, Israel Dawson and Lauren Benson can be seen documenting the meeting.

§Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Free Produce & Groceries

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Solar shower booth in use in the City Hall courtyard

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§City Hall courtyard after the council meeting adjourned

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Man sleeps next to his wheelchair next to council chambers

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Police arrive

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Police issue citations

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

 

 

§Police force demonstrators to move the free produce tables

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Moving everyone to the sidewalk

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:52 PM

 

 

§Individual who said he was being cited for obstructing the sidewalk

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:54 PM

 

 

Individual who said he was being cited for obstructing the sidewalk

§Sgt. Forbus, Santa Cruz Police (on the right)

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:56 PM

 

 

Sgt. Forbus, Santa Cruz Police (on the right)

§Israel Dawson being arrested

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 6:58 PM

 

 

Israel Dawson being arrested

 

 

Police surround Lauren Benson, whi is holding all the video equipment after Dawson was arrested

 

 

Demonstrators chant, “shame” and approach police car as Dawson is prepared for transport

 

 

Sleepers line the sidewalk in front of City Hall in the pre-dawn hour

§Sleepers in front of City Hall in the pre-dawn hour

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 7:03 PM

 

 

Sleepers in front of City Hall in the pre-dawn hour

§Sleeper in front of City Hall

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 7:04 PM

 

 

Sleeper in front of City Hall

§Sleeper in front of City Hall

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 7:04 PM

 

 

Sleeper in front of City Hall

§Sleeper in City Hall courtyard and an early riser

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 7:05 PM

 

 

Sleeper in City Hall courtyard and an early riser

§Sleepers in front of City Hall

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 7:06 PM

 

 

Sleepers in front of City Hall

§Sleepers in front of City Hall

by Alex Darocy Sunday Aug 16th, 2015 7:07 PM

 

Sleepers in front of City Hall Continue reading

Update on the Police Crackdown at City Hall Tuesday Night

 

For the initial story (released earlier today on the HUFF e-mail and at indybay.org/santacruz) and subsequent comments go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/08/12/18776058.php .

by Robert Norse

Wednesday Aug 12th, 2015 11:52 PM

PHOTOGRAPHERS TARGETED?
The UCSC documentarian Lauren and Israel Dawson had been videoing the protests with their lighting and cameras on tripods. They had videoed extensively throughout the last four parade/protest/ sleepovers as well as prior Freedom Sleeper (then called “Homeless Lives Matter”) breakfasts at Hiway 1 and River St.

Indybay photographer and writer Alex Darocy also covered and published photos of all the Freedom Sleepers protests except the comparatively placid August 2nd Sleep-In at City Hall. All three reporters were either cited or arrested earlier in the night. Add me to the list since I extensively record police interaction with protesters for broadcast on Free Radio Santa Cruz; I received my second citation and my first-ever Stay-Away-from-City-Hall order (for 24 hours).

Lauren Dawson got a ticket for “being in a park after hours” (MC 13.04.011) as well as a Stay-Away-from-City-Hall order for 24 hours. I had the honor of getting this phony citation several minutes before Lauren. Sgt. Forbus denied my right to be on the access pathway through the City Hall Courtyard and my demand to be allowed free access to the posted agendas along that passageway. Perhaps his primary concern was my audio recording of each ticketing encounter. Perhaps it was my loud denunciations of police shutting down the right to assemble at the seat of government. Police also cited Darocy for the being in the park as he took photos of the event. This is the first time when all four reporters were cited.

Israel Dawson reports when told by cop to get his ID, he started walking towards his backpack, at which point he was seized and handcuffed, charged with “resisting arrest” [PC 148a], held three hours at the jail, and given a misdemeanor charge. His court date in mid-September and could face 6 months or a year in jail.

FURTHER TRIALS ON THE SIDEWALK
Police sought to drive protesters out of the park with the eight citations and one arrest. They seemed upset that we simply didn’t disperse, responded with angry questions, and declared an intention to return to the City Hall courtyard in front of the Mayor’s office.

Once most had been pushed to the sidewalk, police then began ticketing people for “blocking the sidewalk” or “lying down on the sidewalk” when they attempted to set up their bedding there—in legal spots. They threatened confiscation of the fruit and vegetables, peanut butter and jelly and other food items. Abbi Samuels of Food Not Bombs responded hotly that they could take the table; Freedom Sleepers would not be driven away.

POLICE IGNORE THE LAW
Another officer ignored Samuel’s attempt to explain to him that the public sidewalk in front of City Hall is not covered by the ban against lying down (not just sleeping). City Council passed that Ban to hostile-ify Pacific Avenue for poor people, street people, youth, and travelers two decades ago (MC 9.50.011).

Demonstrators were very upset with the soft-spoken Israel Dawson’s abduction for “resisting arrest”. In response, some Rabbi Phil Posner and others declared they would immediately return to where they’d been resting or standing and if necessary, go to jail in solidarity with Dawson.

Perhaps this threat challenging their authority prompted police to abruptly leave. It might also have been the appearance of four sheriff’s deputies seen consulting with police. Hours later when Dawson was released, he noted he was not held because of the bed shortage there, so (perhaps the deputies asked the cops not to send more folks into a crammed jail.

BACK TO BED
Folks did get back to sleep, though in reduced numbers. There were probably at least 10 sleepers on the sidewalk. I slept in my car adjacent to the sleepers. All of this is “illegal” under MC 6.36. which bans all sleeping on public property or in cars after 11 PM.

Police did not return at all in the morning—a break from the practice in prior protests when there was often a second visit (though no citations)

Interestingly, no one got 6.36 (Sleeping, Blanket, and Camping Ban) tickets, perhaps to sidestep the embarrassing reality and legal liability that Santa Cruz has no legal place for homeless people to sleep–all 1000-2000 of ‘em and simultaneously a law making sleep outside a crime.

DETERMINATION TO RETURN
After some discussion in an impromptu General Assembly, the protesters decided to maintain both their right to protest at City Hall (though along the sidewalk at this point) and the right of the homeless to sleep without being declared criminals (perhaps half the protesters were homeless).

We plan to return next Tuesday night in increased numbers and press the community to support restoration of civil rights for the homeless (as well as the basic right to be at City Hall in peaceful petitioning, assembly, and protest at night—denied since 2010 by administrative edict). Join us if you believe in the right to sleep…and the First Amendment.

Continue reading

HUFF Stumbles On–Sub Rosa 8-12 11 AM

In the aftermath of the latest SleepOut at City Hall (and SpeakOut to City Council), we’ll consider HUFFish next steps to hold particular departments accountable for their latest attacks on the homeless–either with 24 Hour Parking Ban near the Homeless Way Lack of Services Center, the proposed RV parking ban city-wide, the missing 24 hour bathroom (Locust St. remains closed at night), national solidarity with police abuse in Ferguson (Black Lives Still Matter…as do Homeless Lives).

If Sub Rosa is closed, retire to the Cafe Pergolesi–but wait until at least 11:15 p.m. before giving up on Sub Rosa.

Coffee is likely to be there and drinkable as usual.

Sleep-Out #5 to Greet Council on Tuesday August 11th

Title: Freedom Sleepers Outside and Inside City Council
START DATE: Tuesday August 11
TIME: 3:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Location Details:
The event will run from 3 PM on Tuesday to 8 AM on Wednesday. Santa Cruz City Hall Courtyard festivities begin around 3 PM, outside the first City Council meeting of the fall (well, late summer). It’s across from the Main Library and the Civic Auditorium. in the Council courtyard area
Event Type: Protest
BACK FROM VACATION AND STILL EMPTY-HANDED
The City Council is back after its six weeks of sunny summer vacation. During the Budget hearings, the Council did nothing about the “Homeless Services Center” [HLOSC] Shelter Shutdown and cut-off of all Emergency Servces (meals, laundry, showers, bathrooms).

Nothing is on their Tuesday agenda to lift the Sleeping Ban, modify that law or any of the other anti-homeless laws. Nor is there any provision for opening up walk-in campgrounds or legal places for overnight survival sleeping in cars.

1500-2000 homeless people in Santa Cruz for the general population face $157 citations and harassment for sleeping in parks–but have no legal place to go.

U.S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TAKES THE LEAD
This week, the U.S. Dept. of Justice for the first time filed a supporting Statement of Interest in a long-fought Boise, Idaho case. [See http://www.examiner.com/article/u-s-department-of-justice-supports-homeless-rights-lawsuit ]

There homeless advocates sued cops and their bosses to end police harassment of sleepers and secure restitution for past injuries and amnesty for past false convictions. The federal government’s intervention is a historic action and one we will urge them to do in Santa Cruz as well in future lawsuits.

SOAP-BOX AND SIP SOUP
Homeless folks are invited to speak out on the green outside City Council and inside at 5 PM during Oral Communications.
The Council only allows 3 minutes, but we intend to restore free speech outside. Bring your soapbox.

Advocates also plan a Press Conference (probably after the City Council’s Oral Communications period at 5 PM). There we’ll update folks on the current situation and announce future plans for actions to educate and activate the community.

There’ll be coffee and soup in the mid-afternoon, a mid-evening snack later, and morning coffee at 7 AM after the sleep-in.

Activists will be gathering information on sleep deprivation cites, medical turnaways, and other discriminatory behavior throughout the afternoon and evening.

NO MORE WALK-IN SERVICES AT CORAL ST.– NO DISMISSAL OF TICKETS FOR “BEING ON THE WAITING LIST”
Up to now, city law (MC 6.36.055) has required dismissal of all camping tickets for those on the Waiting Lists of the Paul Lee loft and the River St. Shelter. HLOSC Director Jannan Thomas met with Freedom Sleepers today and announced there is no longer a Paul Lee Loft Waiting List.

Further the HLOSC will not be providing walk-in services at all to any homeless folks, except those referred by other agencies. Prior word from the River St. Shelter indicates they only take people with a social worker, a referral, or out of the hospital.

With no waiting list for the Paul Lee Loft and a highly restricted list for the River St. Shelter, sleepers will no longer have the protection of those lists and will have a harder task confronting these cruel “drive the homeless out of town” tickets.

This essentially means the end of all Emergency Services in Santa Cruz–other than those with religious requirements or the limited help provided by Food Not Bombs and other samaritans.

LAST SUNDAY
Last Sunday’s Sleep-Out resulted in no citations for the 20-30 people at City Hall during the night in spite of the angry demands of a zealous First Alarm security guard.

Nor did policed ticket activists reading posted agendas outside City Council though they were standing “in a closed area”. Instead they drove them away with threats.

How City officials can allow police to ban people from reading publicly posted city agendas at night is still a mystery to many of us. Particularly since state lazw requires the agendas be publicly available 24-hours-a-day for 72 hours before any public meeting.

GET READY TO BED DOWN!
Join us in pajamas and bathrobes (teddy bears optional) if you wish to support the Right to Rest.

For die-hards and a third round of coffee, HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be meeting at 703 Pacific at the Sub Rosa Cafe (next to the Bike Church).

More info at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/08/01/18775639.php .

This description reflects my perspective and hopefully that of other activists. Living it is better than reading about it. Come and do your part.

The Federal Government Says Being Homeless Should Not Be A Crime

NOTE BY NORSE:  Tip of the hat to Peggy Lee Kennedy down L.A.-way for passing on this encouraging “Statement of Interest” brief filed by the federal government against a Boise, Idaho Sleeping Ban.

Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/homeless-crime-sleeping_55c3742ee4b0923c12bbb772
Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, we are preparing our next daytime/nighttime Sleep Protest at City Hall for Tuesday August 11th–when the City Council returns from its restful vacation.   Folks are invited to wear Sleepware and cast a few yawns of wisdom at the Council during the 5 PM Oral Communications period.  More info on the SleepOut (#5 in a continuing series) on www.indybay.org/santacruz  shortly.
Homeless people–even an elderly disabled woman with a service dog–continue to be harassed and ticketed for Sleepcrime when Santa Cruz has no shelter for 95% of its homeless.  Food services at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center continue to be a preserve of those “in programs” with “a pathway to housing”  (whatever that means).
Additionally HUFF was told this week that so-called emergency medical providers like Dominican Hospital, Emeline, and Planned Parenthood turned away a homeless woman recently raped in search of medical examination, advice, and treatment.  Please report difficulties you or homeless friends are having obtaining services–the more specific the information, the better.

 

HUFF at mid-Summer: Still scheming sleepouts and sipping coffee 11 AM 8-5 Sub Rosa

 

Bubbling up in the HUFF cauldron this time:   Police High Command Orders and Procedures Around Stay-Away Law; Supporting the Sunday SleepOut?, The Tuesday Day-and-Night Sleep-About at City Hall with the Freedom Sleepers; Dogging Disability Discrimination; The latest Ha-ha from the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center on their Admission Policies…and whatever blowsin the door…