Guilty Verdicts in Freedom Sleeper Trial: Assembly Ban on City Hall Grounds Continues

 

Right of Nighttime Assembly at City Hall Crushed in Courtroom 1

by Robert Norse

Saturday Jun 25th, 2016 3:45 PM

After an hour and a quarter trial, retired Judge Sam Stevens found me guilty. Chatty and friendly, Stevens initially gave the impression that his ruling would favor the defense, praising the legal work done by attorney Kate Wells in preparing the brief prior to trial (some of the work was done by Steve Pleich).

The only witnesses were Norse and the two police officers who cited him, first on July 5th, and again on August 12th late at night. Stevens stated that the time of the citations was key. It is legal to be around City Hall during the day, but forbidden to be in the city hall courtyard after 10 PM.

The law allows you to be “on the access paths through the area”. We presented photos of me on the pathways. City attorney Gallogly countered with testimony that I’d been off the pathway at different points making audio recordings of arrests. Stevens found that irrelevant, noting it was the “agenda access” argument that was key.

This principal defense was that the City had to allow the public 24 hour access to the agendas that were posted inside the “forbidden” area for a period of 72-hours before any agendaized meeting. Hence, the defense argued, police could not site members of the public for going there if any such meetings were scheduled.

Stevens seemed to wrestle with this argument for a time, but ultimately upheld Gallogly’s response that the proper remedy for a Brown Act violation was a civil lawsuit. Stevens agreed that the City’s violation of the Brown Act was not in and of itself a defense against “trespass” on City Hall grounds at night.

Both ignored the basic fact that City Hall is the seat of government where the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is most important. Denial of the right to be present there to petition for a redress of grievances would seem a classic violation of the First Amendment of both the state and federal Constitutions. I am unaware of any other City Hall grounds that have been permanently closed at night.

It is a highly unusual and outrageous restriction on public access. In Santa Cruz it was done in a backroom maneuver in 2010 to exclude a peaceful homeless protest (PeaceCamp 2010) protesting the same Sleeping Ban issue. A year later this Ban on being around government buildings was extended to a 7 PM -7AM ban at the County Building to drive away the Occupy Santa Cruz movement.

Stevens later made some comments about “making the police job easier to prevent vandalism at City Hall”, but no instances of vandalism were cited justifying such a severe nighttime ban on all public assembly there. Ironically, Stevens himself had turned back Mayor Rotkin’s 1996 attempt to shut down still another homeless protest at City Hall with such a ban.

Gallogly and Stevens both ultimately hinged their decision on a fallacious analogy. “You wouldn’t let someone break into a closed building to read agendas, even if the City should have posted them outside, right? So here you’re not allowed to ‘trespass’ even though the agendas should have been posted in an accessible place.”

Equating access to a public area with destroying property is, of course, ridiculous.
Forced entry into closed buildings at night in a considerably different matter than walking up to a display case to see what City bureaucrats are cooking up. Such access was accepted as a matter of right until 2010, when it was denied the entire community to discourage activists from embarrassing the City about its treatment of homeless people.

The job of the police would be made easier by requiring everyone to answer police questions and submit to searches. But is that what we want to tolerate in a democratic society?

When asked why he has retreated to this new reactionary repressive position, Stevens replied with a smile “times have changed.”

Stevens made much of the fact that police were friendly, gave me a chance to leave, and were acting under orders. Using this line of logic, basic rights can be swept aside by if police are friendly, coach us to give up our rights voluntarily, and are “just following orders”? A sad conclusion–particularly for a judge once a defender of the rights of protesters and the public.

Indeed, the new mythos of the city Staff and the Take Back Santa Cruz crowd sees danger in folks sleeping in their cars. They have removed the grass lawns of the City Hall grounds apparently to discourage daytime resting there. Chillingly the City’s ban on handicraft artists downtown selling their handicraft artwork downtown under the mew Commercial Vending ordinance went into effect on Friday, June 24th.

As the bumper sticker says, “Ignore your rights and they’ll go away”.

I was sentenced to 20 hours of Community Service over the objections of City Attorney Gallogly who wanted me to pay $198. The second citation was dropped.

TO READ AND MAKE COMMENTS, GO TO: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/22/18787930.php?show_comments=1#18788095

Freedom Sleeper “No Assembly at City Hall Grounds at Night” cases Go to Court

Date Friday June 24
Time 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Location Details
County Courthouse Superior Court 1
Event Type Court Date
Organizer/Author Robert Norse
Email rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone 831-423-4833
Address
In an attack on peaceful protest against the City’s anti-homeless Sleeping Ban outside City Hall each Tuesday night, police have forced activists off the grounds and ticketed many.In a court trial before Judge Sam Stevens, attorney Kate Wells will argue that two citations given to Robert Norse were invalid.She will argue that (a) closing the City Hall Courtyard at night illegally denied access to the City agendas, posted just outside City Council; (b) Norse was on a pathway through the area–an exception to the “no access” order; and (c) banning peaceful public assembly at the seat of government in the absence of some kind of emergency is unconstitutional.

At a hearing last week, Judge Paul Marigonda has already refused to order the police to present video and audio of the incidents. City Attorney Gallogly claims that police have advised him that they were just “pretending” to video/photo and/or the evidence was destroyed. None of this prompted any objection from Marigonda.

More background: “Freedom Sleeper Case Demands Police Release Video Records ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/16/18787630.php .

TO READ OR MAKE COMMENTS GO TO:  https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/22/18787930.php

HUFF at the Sub Rosa at 11 AM Today

Agenda Suggestions for HUFF (bring your own!):  Freedom SleepOut #50 Report from the Sidewalk, June 24 10 AM Judge Trial of two Freedom Sleeper citations–using the fabled agenda/pathway/govt. center defenses (See”#50–Freedom Sleepers Keep the Faith ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/16/18787630.php );  Supporting the L.A. Activists Against the Proposed Vehicular Sleeping Ban; and whatever else goes with coffee!

Silver 50th Week Coming Up for the Freedom Sleepers Tonight

 

#50–Freedom Sleepers Keep the Faith
Date Tuesday June 21
Time 5:00 PM – 5:00 AM
Location Details
On or near the Center of the City Government Beast at Santa Cruz City Hall 809 Center St. on the brick area and sidewalk along Center St. between Church and Locust Streets
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone 575-770-3377
Address
A successful Tuesday Sleep-Out last week indicated growing support. Freedom Sleep-Out #49 was mainly staffed by unhoused folks seeking shelter, community, and a respite from the threat of Sleeping Ban tickets. See “As Attendance Swells at Community Sleepouts, Freedom Sleepers Plan One-Year Anniversary” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/16/18787633.php .

In Santa Cruz, sleeping outside, in a vehicle, or in any non-residential structure, is a $150+ infraction crime (MC 6.36.010a). Three such “crimes” unpaid in six months can mean a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail. Additionally a new condition can be imposed making each and every future infraction of any kind (being in a park after dark, smoking in a non-smoking area, sitting within 14′ of a building, bench, telephone, crosswalk, etc. on Pacific Ave) for the next six months automatic misdemeanors.

Sleeping on the sidewalk at the protest, in spite of its visibility and the many people doing it each Tuesday night, has generally not resulted in Sleeping citations. The overwhelming majority of tickets were for “being in a closed area” (MC 13.04.011)–the administratively closed area of the City Hall grounds at night to deter protests.

SUPPORTING OTHER CITIES
As a frequent Freedom Sleeper, Monterey Max spoke on behalf of homeless civil rights at a Salinas Sleep-In Press Conference Monday. Salinas activists under the leadership of Wes White have been sleeping out night in front of Salinas City Hall, where nighttime sleeping and camping is not a crime, but setting down one’s survival gear during the day in public places is. He may be at the Sleep-Out tonight in Santa Cruz. See “City of Salinas: Shelter is a Human Right! ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/13/18787482.php

JUDGE COVERS FOR COPS AT EVIDENTIARY HEARING, SETS TRIAL DATE FOR FRIDAY
‘Bathrobespierre’ Robert Norse faces a no-jury trial for two counts of being on the City Hall courtyard grounds “after hours”. See “Freedom Sleeper Case Demands Police Release Video Records ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/16/18787630.php .

Judge Paul Marigonda, jocularly known in some quarters as Judge Marigouge-ah, upheld City Attorney Gallogly’s peculiar argument. Gallogly argued that any video made by police was either destroyed immediately after (a violation of the law, but ignored by the Judge) or that the videoing itself was not actually done but really a “bluff” to keep the protesters on their best behavior.

Some watchers noted that Marigonda and Gallogly spent many minutes privately conferring, and wondered if that kind of secret discussion might not be improper. The judge dismissed the numerous photos of Sgt. Forbus and other officers apparently videoing and/or photopgraphing (See http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2015/08/20/sleep-out-22-santa-cruz-police-sgt-david-forbus-city-hall.jpg ). He refused to delay the trial, setting it for 10 AM June 24 in Department 1.

FRIDAY TRIAL MAY BE INTERESTING.
A bright spot in Marigonda’s SCPD-rubberstamping Hearing was the presence of at least seven Freedom Sleeper supporters in the courtroom.

Next Friday’s trial will be heard by retired judge Sam Steven, whose record is reportedly less hostile to activists than Marigonda’s.

Of particular interest to the defense is the coincidental appearance of a new glass case displaying City Council agendas, on the sidewalk just outside the City Council courtyard. This sudden appearance of a new location for posted agendas followed the ticketing and arrest of Freedom Sleepers week after week. Many of them told police they were in the courtyard and claimed the right to gain access to the agendas–which was repeatedly denied.

Called to account will be City Administrator/Clerk Bren Lehr, who presided over the creation of the new display case in the fall of 2015, according to e-mails. Another subpoenaed witness is Sgt. David Forbus, who may be able to explain the disappearing video tape and photographs—which were supposed to be preserved. Apparently the “losing” of such key evidence is a not a unique occurrence—as a key defendant in the PeaceCamp 2010 trial noted the same thing happened to him [See “At the PC2010 trial a sheriff testified, under oath, that their arrest video was ‘lost’.” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/16/18787630.php?show_comments=1#18787668.

The outcome may also affect the citations and arrests of other Freedom Sleepers, almost all of whom have either paid $198 fines, gone to trial (and generally been found guilty), or let their tickets go to collection. There is the prospect of a broader federal lawsuit for false arrest damages if a “not guilty” comes out of this case. Since the state Brown [Open Meetings] Act requires access to the agenda display at night, it appears the police were violating state law and improperly blocking Freedom Sleepers from exercising their right to view the agendas.

The trial is slated to start at 10 AM, but may start later due to judicial delays, questionable out-of-sight conferences with the judge and a bloated docket of drug war and poverty-crime cases.

UPCOMING MEMORIAL
On the horizon is the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Sleepers with a special event scheduled for July 5th. On that Tuesday, the 52nd Sleep-Out, activists plan a gathering, a march, a memorial for those who have died in the last year, and a possible film showing. To be followed by the usual night on the sidewalk contesting the City’s Sleeping Ban.

To follow the history of the Freedom Sleep-Out’s go to http://www.indybay.org/santacruz and click on the Calendar button at the top of the page, then scroll back through earlier weeks to read the Tuesday announcements.

This announcement composed and is the responsibility of Robert Norse.

Los Angeles Homeless Activist Calls Out for Help

 

Peggy: 

Great two letters.

I’m passing this appeal on to the HUFFsters and will bring it up at tomorrow’s HUFF meeting.  Not that we can do that much, but we can send e-mails.   You’re also invited on the air Thursday night at 6-8 PM, if you’d like.   We’ve gotten into a new studio and have live broadcasting again.

Robert


Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:18:17 -0700
Subject: URGENT – PLEASE ACT
From: peggylee.kennedy@gmail.com
To: venicejusticecommittee@gmail.com

Sorry for the duplicate emails, but this is really important!

Tomorrow, June 22 the LA City Council Committee on Poverty and Homelessness has (agenda item 4) the new ordinance making it illegal to sleep in a vehicle!

Here is the link to the agenda:
http://ens.lacity.org/clk/committeeagend/clkcommitteeagend3405104145_06222016.html

Please email a letter of opposition ASAP
and
PLEASE try to come to the meeting! It starts at 3pm. Put in a speaker card saying you are opposed to item 4.

Below is the email I sent them. Feel free to use what you want, but use your own words of course.

Below that is David’s email

——————————————

To:          LA City Council Homelessness and Poverty Committee

LACity Councilmember Harris-Dawson   councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org

LACity Councilmember Huizar                    councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

LACity Councilmember Bonin                     councilmember.bonin@lacity.org

LACity Councilmember Cedillo                   councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org

LACity Councilmember Price                       councilmember.price@lacity.org

Legislative Assistant Eric Villanueva          Eric.Villanueva@lacity.org

CC:         Mayor Eric Garcetti                         mayor.garcetti@lacity.org

 

Re:         June 22, 2016, Agenda Item 4, Council File 14-1057

Amending LAMC 85.02 (to prohibit lodging in a vehicle on city streets)

Councilmembers:

I am opposed to this ordinance in either of the two draft forms provided by the City Attorney:

It makes the act of lodging in a vehicle a crime when homelessness is persistent and growing.

It  does not create solutions first and foremost, which is what this committee should look at first considering the urgency of the homeless situation in Los Angeles.

It is inhumane and innocent people will be harmed.

The City of Los Angeles saw another increase of 11% in the homeless count of 2016 from that of 2015 (one-year). The prior 2015 count saw an increase of 12% from 2013 (two-years). Clearly the homeless problem in Los Angeles is persistent and growing.

These counts are of people, not simply numbers. They are community members and neighbors once housed in Los Angeles.  In fact 72% of adults experiencing homelessness have lived in LA County for more than 20-years. (Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) Homeless County Presentation 

https://documents.lahsa.org/Planning/homelesscount/2016/factsheet/2016-HC-Results.pdf )

There are no Safe Parking programs in place, if ever created at all, which might meet the demand of those living homeless in a vehicle. Such programs may take years to develop. Any person of average intelligence can understand that living in a vehicle is safer than living outside “rough.”  Furthermore, Los Angeles does not have enough homeless shelters for the homeless people living “rough.”

The fact is Los Angeles has a severe housing crisis and is one of the least affordable places to live in the United States. (National Low Income Housing Coalition: Affordable Housing Gap Analysis 2016 http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Gap-Report_print.pdf ) I suggest the City of Los Angeles take a look internally to find reasons why so many low-income Angelinos are becoming homeless. Protecting, monitoring, and increasing low-income housing is one key place to begin.

In the mean time, emergency measures are in order now. We need safe places for homeless people to rest, storage for their belongings, access to sanitary facilities, and so much more.

Turning homeless people into criminals is cruel, it certainly is not a solution and it has proven more expensive that housing people. 

Vote no and stop this from going forward!

Continue reading

Free Radio’s Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Show update

Interested HUFFsters:   My twice-weekly radio show is now back in the studio.  You can call in at 831-427-3772 when I’m on air, and leave me a message at 831-423-4833 off-air.  Since I’m no longer preparing my shows in advance, unless I have an unusual guest, I won’t be sending out the twice-weekly reminder of my show.  I invite you all to listen and call in anyway! 


On Sunday’s show I’ll be covering my Freedom Sleeper hearing Friday, Cannabis Crackdown Updates, among several hours of other things.

The show broadcasts at 101.3 FM and streams on the internet at freakradio.org at 9:30 AM -2 PM Sundays and 6-8 PM Thursdays.   It will archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brbYYMMDD.mp3
where YY is the year, MM the month, and DD the day.  So tomorrow’s show on June 19, 2016 will archive at
http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb160619.mp3

HUFF peeks out from behind coffee cups 11 AM Wednesday Sub Rosa 6-15-16

Topics likely to be found on the HUFF agenda:   A LookBack at the latest Shitty Council Meeting; Upcoming Events:  Freedom Sleeper Motions Hearing in Court Dept. 1 10 AM Friday; July 5 Year Memorial; News from Salinas, the Board of Supes, & Other Get Togethers.    Well sloshed with coffee and unidentified munchables

Freedom Sleeper Get Together 8 PM Tuesday June 14 at City Hall? Council Preview

Hi Everyone:

PROPOSED MEETING
Zav believes it would be good for Freedom Sleepers to firm up any plans for the July 5 Memorial Demo and clarifying what needs to be done and who can do it.  He suggests we meet at 8 PM in front of City Hall at the Freedom Sleeper site on Tuesday night.

Zav has also asked HUFF members (and anyone interested) to be particularly aware of the Budget approval that follows the Consent Agenda (Item #22) probably at 2:45 or 3 PM, which concerns money for public bathrooms (if any).   HUFF is encouraging the City to open the City Hall bathrooms 24-hours a day (the “Give a Shit” campaign).  Unfortunately the documents giving budget specifics and when items are coming up are not on line at the moment.

UPCOMING COURT HEARING
Also up for possible discussion at the 8 PM meeting (if that’s what we decide) is support for the June 17 Motions Hearing on my two “in the park after 10 PM” citations (10 AM Dept. 1).  The issue here is to get the police video and audio released prior to trial.  And use the occasion to publicize the City’s continuing harassment of Freedom Sleepers (and, of course, the unhoused community).

There is a chance that the well-documented City staff’s movement of agendas to the sidewalk in December may nullify my tickets (and perhaps those of all other Freedom Sleepers) and show that the arrests were false.   My court (not jury) trial before Judge Marigonda is currently slated for June 24 at 10 AM but may be postponed–if the Discovery Motion is granted.

ON THE COUNCIL AGENDA
I’d also add that on the June 14 Consent Agenda at 2:30 PM earlier that day are item #5, expanding triple fine zones for the holidays from the downtown area to include the entire city for July 4, Halloween, and New Year’s.  Plus expanding the time affected to 48 hours before and 48 hours after the holiday itself.  Pretty serious expansion of police power for harassment (and fund-raising) for minor offenses.

Item #6 kicks down $100,000 for graffiti abatement; item #8 $50,000 for a trash container up at the golf course; item #10 authorizes the City’s whole financial packet without any examination of investments in war profiteering or companies boycotted by the BDS movement (to boycott Israel unless it leaves the Occupied territories); item #11 $36,000 for new police helmets at $350+ a helmet. 

If anyone wants to talk on these Consent Agenda items, I encourage you to send an e-mail to a Council member (mposter@cityofsantacruz.com, dlane@cityofsantacruz.com, cchase@cityofsantacruz.com, etc.) asking them  to pull the item from the agenda for separate discussion and vote.   Or call them at 420-5020 and leave them a message.

NUMBER & LOCATION OF BLUE BOXES NOT SETTLED
The Resolution specifying the number and location of the blue cages, or “exempt zones” (as the blue bracketed areas on Pacific Avenue are called) is NOT on the agenda as anticipated.  However the law banning jewelry and other “Commercial” sales and uses, tightening the “move every hour” law, and enacting further restrictions on using the blue cages goes into effect on June 23 or 24th.

Freedom SleepOut #49, City Council Capers, & More!

Freedom SleepOut #49 Will Follow Council’s Doling Out More Cash for Cops;

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Sunday Jun 12th, 2016 12:32 PM

Bad news for those worried about expanded police power, throwing cash at the cops, and other issues on the Consent Agenda Tuesday afternoon at City Council. Following that, Freedom Sleepers will continue the determined campaign to end the 11 PM-8:30 AM Sleeping Ban and establish a “free from citation” space on the sidewalk. Additionally a few notes on the upcoming demands that police cough up their video of past harassment on March 17 10 AM in Dept. 1.

There is more bad news at the afternoon’s City Council agenda: Rubberstamping of the Budget and Police Pork on the Consent Agenda.

ON THE COUNCIL AGENDA
The 2:30 PM has item #5, expanding triple fine zones for the holidays from the downtown area to include the entire city for July 4, Halloween, and New Year’s. Plus expanding the time affected to 48 hours before and 48 hours after the holiday itself. Pretty serious expansion of police power for harassment (and fund-raising) for minor offenses.

Item #6 kicks down $100,000 for grafitti abatement; item #8 $50,000 for a trash container up at the golf course; item #10 authorizes the City’s whole financial packet without any examination of investments in war profiteering or companies boycotted by the BDS movement (to boycott Israel unless it leaves the Occupied territories); item #11 $36,000 for new police helmets at $350+ a helmet.

BREN LEHR’S BARRICADING
Item #12 includes two demands for damages because of police abuse, but City Administrator/Clerk Bren Lehr has removed from the agenda packet the original written claims of the victims, so the public doesn’t know what’s happened or how to contact them. Even though these are Public Records and should be available 72-hours before the meeting. Lehr has them. She simply won’t post them. At my demand some months ago, she did initially post the original claims with contact information removed. When I demanded she include that information, she pulled the claims entirely. She was forced to provide them as Public Records to me as an individual but not for the public generally through the agenda packet.

If anyone wants to talk on these Consent Agenda items, I encourage you to send an e-mail to a Council member (mposner [at] cityofsantacruz.com, dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com, cchase [at] cityofsantacruz.com, etc.) asking them to pull the item from the agenda for separate discussion and vote. Or call them at 420-5020 and leave them a message.

Otherwise you need to talk real fast during the 2 minutes that Mayor “Two Minute” Mathews allows. Sum up your views on any and all 18 Consent Agenda items during that two minutes. Folks who have serious issues to raise on more than one item and need at least 2 minutes per item to present them, should contact a Council member in advance with suitable gestures of respect, gifts, and campaign contributions. Since all this is now “at the discretion” of the Council. Constitutional Attorney (now Cannabis-hostile Supervisor) Ryan Coonerty removed the public’s right to individually address items back in 2007 or so–unless a Council member pulls the item.

NUMBER AND LOCATION OF BLUE BOXES NOT SETTLED
The Resolution specifying the number and location of the blue cages, or “exempt zones” (as the blue bracketed areas on Pacific Avenue are called) is NOT on the agenda as anticipated. However the law banning jewelry and other “Commercial” sales and uses, tightening the “move every hour” law, and enacting further restrictions on using the blue cages goes into effect on June 23 or 24th.
Continue reading

Sunday Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides: former MHCAN client “Righteous Rantster” Reynaldo, former Cannabis C-4 Member “Nip of News” Nick Balaich,, and “Worldweary” Willie Underbaggage Speak Out

Plus Lots of Street Interviews and “Doubleduty” Doug Loisel (Methadone Clinic Manager and Youth Counselor) on the Medical Murder of Krista Deluca in Santa Cruz City Jail last year.   And still more for more than 4 1/2 hours!


The show broadcasts at 101.3 FM and streams on the internet at freakradio.org at 9:30 AM -2 PM (June 12).  It will archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb160612.mp3.