Freedom Sleepers: 64th Weekly Sleepout-Sustaining the Safe Sleep Zone

Date 9/27/2016

Time 5:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Location Details On the heels and coattails of City Hall where the Sleepsnatcher Beast Slumbers. Soup and other incidentals will be available on the bricks near the City Directory sign.
The event lasts from late afternoon Tuesday the 27th through mid-morning Wednesday the 28th
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (entry by Norse)
Emailkeith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone
575-770–3377

With a growing sidewalk community showing up each Tuesday for the “End the Sleeping Ban” rally, feed, and sleep-over, uniformed thug harassment is apparently way down with little if any interference with sleepers over the last two Tuesdays.Though only present once a week, the Freedom Sleepers continue to create a de facto Safe Sleeping Zone on the sidewalk next to City Hall across from the Main Library. A community gathers, shares food and coffee, and then sleeps in defiance of the City’s notorious MC 6.36.010 banning sleeping from 11 PM to 8:30 AM on all public and much private property.Folks have even dared to sleep on the “forbidden bricks”–the broad entrance area to the City Council Courtyard, previously open to peaceful protest and assembly until its anti-homeless closure in the fall of 2010.CITY COUNCIL COVER-UP
City Council has its 2nd September meeting (every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 2:20 PM generally), but for the first time in memory, Council has no real agenda items other than Presentations, Consent Agenda stuff, and housekeeping (committee assignments).

Raymond Laborde apparently filed a late claim for $150,000 for “injuries allegedly resulting from an arrest”. However, City Clerk Bren Lehr has refused to put the original claim with details and phone contact on the agenda. I made a Public Records Act Request for that information, but so far have heard nothing.

Under pressure in the past, Lehr did put facsimiles of the original claims being considered on the City Council website 72 hours in advance. When pressed for contact information for those filing claims (which the City has no legal right to withhold), she removed the original claims entirely and left only the city staff’s “summary”.

Those wishing to keep abreast of who’s claiming injury from police abuse in the City should file regular Public Records Act requests well in advance of Council meetings. Claims usually take months to process, so it’s possible to get advance knowledge of who feels they’re being injured by the police if someone is interested in tracking this.

PUBLIC RECORDS STONEWALLING
Public Records Act requests to view Sleeping Ban and other anti-homeless citations are still being resisted and ignored by the SCPD and its supposed bosses at City Hall. Issue of surveillance devices, coming up at the upcoming ACLU forum is also being stalled. Mayor Mathews, though informed of the situation, has declined to respond. She is running for reelection in November.

SALINAS STANDOFF
On September 20th at the initiative of the City Manager, City Attorney, and reactionary Mayor, City Council there passed an “emergency” ordinance to drive away the nightly Tent City known as “the Flagpole Community” (see “Speak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/17/18791376.php).

Activists from other cities including the Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers joined dozens of others in speaking out against the phony “public safety” law, designed specifically to drive away protesters outside Salinas City Hall led by Wes White.

Right-wing media covered the event at http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20160920/NEWS/160929921 (“County supervisors surprised, chagrined over proposed Salinas city overnight camping ban”)

The Community recently threw its 6-month Sleep-In celebration (see “Six Month Birthday Party for the Flagpole Community ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/17/18791386.php “Monterey County Homeless Union Establishes Tent Community at Salinas City Hall” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/08/11/18790043.php .

As the clock strikes midnight on Saturday October 1st, police have threatened to begin enforcement, clearing away an orderly encampment of several dozen folks and their tents–with no alternative shelter facilities or safe sleeping spots allowed. The anti-Camping law is city-wide and includes an “anti-loitering” law.

Activists will reportedly resist the attempted destruction of the protest and urge others to join them, if only as witnesses with video. For more information, contact Wes White at 510-274-9275 .

FREEDOM SLEEP SUPPORTER STEVE HOLD CANDIDATE CHAT
Smooth-tongue Steve Pleich will be greeting potential voters at Woodstock Pizza 710 Front St. 5-7 PM on Friday September 30th. Pleich is the only candidate so far to specifically denounce the Sleeping Ban in the numerous candidate forums (though not the most recent Downtown Association Forum at the Civic last Thursday).

Lone wolf founder of the Homeless Persons Legal Project, Steve has recently released a list of specific accomplishments that document his history of homeless accomplishments. He himself lives in a vehicle and may be more vocal on homeless issues than most assuming his passion for shmoozing with power doesn’t get the best of him.

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) has yet to endorse any candidates in the upcoming electoral charades, but will be meeting tomorrow 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific to discuss City Council election prospects.

Freedom Sleepers Bed Down for #63 While Salinas Fights Camping Ban

Date Tuesday September 20
Time 5:00 PM – 9:00 AM

Location Details At the edge of the seat of government–Santa Cruz City Hall–unholy birthplace of anti-homeless laws. Banned from peaceful protest at night, the sleepers will be positioned on the Center St. sidewalk and assorted spots nearby throughout the night and into the morning. The Sleep-Out will run from Tuesday afternoon through mid-morning Wednesday.

There will be no City Council meeting today (every 2nd and 4th Tuesday are the regular times). City bathrooms have recently been “closed for vandalism”; city employees have their own special bathrooms to use behind locked doors not available to the public. New portapotties reinforced with wooden structure –instead of opening existing bathrooms at night–are only open after 10 PM. They can be found at the parking lot adjacent to Cedar and Union streets, another at the corner of Cedar and Lincoln, kitty-corner from the Calvary Episcopal Church.

Reports from the levee suggest anti-homeless hysteria masquerading as “public safety” has prompted both increased police and ranger harassment of the citizenry generally who linger along the levee path, even during the day. Ricardo Lopez, a levee resident, reports massive bulldozing of brush along the levee to uncover the small population of survival campers there.

Event Type
Protest
Organizer/AuthorKeith McHenry (story by Norse)
Emailrnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone
575-770–3377

With reports coming in of wretched conditions at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, along with an essentially closed program that requires a ‘path to housing” (i.e. government money) to get in, it’s little wonder the Freedom Sleepers continues to gather each Tuesday night in front of City Hall to defy the City’s Sleeping Ban for unhoused people.

Recent Freedom Sleep-outs are discussed and pictured in “Getting a Good Night’s Sleep with the Freedom Sleepers” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/19/18791433.php

UPCOMING FORUM ON “HOMELESSNESS” MAY TOUCH ON LOCAL CIVIL RIGHTS
The local ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] has announced an open “Forum on Homelessness” featuring Fresno writer and activist Mike Rhodes to be held Wednesday October 5th 7-9 PM at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History at 705 Front St. More info at https://www.facebook.com/events/665941013582814/

Other City Council candidate forums where homeless advocates may want to raise unmentionable issues from the audience or by protest inside or outside the event include September 21 6:30 PM: Democratic Central Committee Endorsement Forum, Community Foundation 7807 Soquel Dr. Aptos • September 22 6-9 PM Downtown Association Candidate Forum, 307 Church St.

SALINAS SLEEPING BAN UP FOR VOTE
Salinas City Council is slated to consider First Reading of an anti-homeless sleeping ban dressed up as a “Camping Ban” which criminalizes “camping equipment” such as sleeping bags.

The staff report is at staff report at https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2016/09/16/council_report_re_camping_ordinance__final_.pdf .

The proposed law is at https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2016/09/16/camping_ordinance__final_.pdf . It’s apparently designed to remove peaceful nighttime protesters who have slept nightly outside Salinas City Hall for nearly six months now.

See “Speak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance at Salinas City Council Meeting ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/17/18791376.php

Organizer Wes White, who has videoed and supported the Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers and backed supposedly pro-homeless Santa Cruz City Council candidates has expressed dismay at their failure to respond to what he describes as a historic confrontation today at Salinas City Hall (200 Lincoln Ave.) at 3 PM. He encourages reciprocity between activists in the two cities and urges folks to come today. Contact Robert Norse at 831-423-4833 for more transportation information.

Added to the calendar on Tuesday Sep 20th, 2016 10:55 AM

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep at City Hall with the Freedom Sleepers

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep at City Hall with the Freedom Sleepers
by Alex Darocy (alex [at] alexdarocy.com)
Monday Sep 19th, 2016 6:27 PM
After a chilly series of summer nights for people on the street in Santa Cruz, temperatures have increased, and so has attendance at the Freedom Sleepers community sleepouts held at city hall. About three dozen sleepers made it through the night at the sleepout held on August 30, and attendance was nearly as high at the sleepouts organized on September 6 and September 13. Since July of 2015, the Freedom Sleepers have gathered to sleep at city hall one night a week to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness. September 13 marked the group’s 62nd sleepout. [Top photo: The Freedom Sleepers at Santa Cruz city hall at the 61st community sleepout organized on September 6-7. Scroll down for more photos.]
sm_freedom-sleepers-1.jpg

Presently, the only location in downtown Santa Cruz where people on the street are able to sleep regularly as a group is at the weekly community sleepouts organized by the Freedom Sleepers. Homeless sweeps conducted by the Santa Cruz Police Department beginning in January of this year have for the most part cleared the downtown area of groups of people sleeping together in other locations, such as at the post office.

The sleepouts have attracted quite a bit of attention from the police. By sleeping at city hall, the Freedom Sleepers, some of whom have fixed housing of their own and some of whom do not, are engaging in a civil disobedience protest that directly violates the city’s camping ban, which outlaws sleeping anywhere in public between the hours of 11 pm and 8:30 am.

Many of the organizers of the sleepouts, which are organized as political protests, are hesitant to describe them as a completely safe place to sleep, but one of the founding Freedom Sleepers, Robert Norse of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF), has described them as “safe zones” that are a “safer” place to sleep.

“A lot of the homeless people have come up to several of us and said that this is the only night of the week they can get an uninterrupted night of sleep,” said Abbi Samuels, who is also one of the founding Freedom Sleepers.

“To me that’s so sad that there is only one night a week they can get 7-8 hours of sleep,” she said.

“I have been able to get a good night’s sleep too,” Samuels said of her own experience of sleeping at city hall with the Freedom Sleepers.

The primary demand of the Freedom Sleepers has been the repeal of the city’s camping ban ordinance, but Samuels believes some immediate relief for homeless people could be attained by amending the ordinance.

“I think people should be able to sleep at government and public facilities,” Samuels said.

“City facilities should be re-zoned,” she said.

Early on during the protests, the Freedom Sleepers attempted to sleep in the large lawn area located in the center of city hall’s courtyard, but sleepers in that area were subjected to citation during the many police raids the Freedom Sleepers experienced. The city hall courtyard is a no-trespassing zone and is closed to the public at night between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.

Additionally, city staff has actively worked behind the scenes to make it more difficult for individuals to sleep at city hall. In October of 2015, the Parks and Recreation department began the process of removing the grass lawn at city hall and replacing it with spiny plants, new pathways, and rock features, as part of a landscaping project that has rendered the area hostile to those looking for a place to sleep.

“It’s horrible, it’s a subtle way to get rid of homeless people,” Samuels said. “I am so livid.”

She recalled how soft the lawn area was, and how people could sleep on it comfortably.

Samuels says she learned in October of 2015 that the landscaping changes were intentionally designed to prevent people from sleeping in the area from Don Lane, who was the mayor of Santa Cruz at the time.

The Freedom Sleepers had moved their primary sleep location to the sidewalk before the changes in the landscape were initiated by the city, and the sleepouts continued unabated, but the loss of the lawn area is a constant reminder and sore point for the group.

In addition to those looking to sleep with a group of people, the Freedom Sleepers attract a large number of people who are in need of life necessities and other basic supplies, such as food, clothing, and blankets or bedding.

On August 30, Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs estimates they shared 200 servings of food or more at city hall before that evening’s sleepout, which was in addition to food donations made by other organizations that day.

“We had to make more food,” said Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs about the August 30 sleepout.

“I have never seen so many eager for food at a Freedom Sleepers sleep out. It seems like we are getting more people seeking food each week,” he said. “America is in crisis.”

The Freedom Sleepers have indicated the sleepouts will continue indefinitely at Santa Cruz city hall. The next sleepout is planned for the evening of Tuesday, September 20.

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

Photos below…..

Continue reading

Speak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance at Salinas City Council Meeting

peak Out Against the Proposed Camping/Loitering Ordinance at Salinas City Council Meeting
Date Tuesday September 20
Time 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location Details
SALINAS CITY HALL
200 Lincoln Ave
Salinas, CA 93901
Event Type Meeting
Organizer/Author Monterey County Homeless Union
SHELTER IS A HUMAN RIGHT!!
SPEAK OUT AGAINST
OPEN DISCRIMINATION!
HOMELESSNESS IS THE
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT OF OUR ERA!!Tuesday Sept 20
3pm- Rally
4pm- City Council
6pm- Potluck Dinner

SALINAS CITY HALL
200 Lincoln Ave
Salinas, CA 93901

HOMELESS THROUGHOUT THE CITY ARE NOW OPENLY UNDER ATTACK, ESPECIALLY OUR TENT CITY AT CITY HALL!!

The city council will consider a new ordinance PROHIBITING CAMPING AND LOITERING ON ANY PUBLIC PROPERTY.

If there is a war on homeless going on throughout the country, Salinas is certainly on the front lines! Come speak up for those less fortunate and more vulnerable than you. They need your love and support at this critical time. The city’s position is that if you’re too poor to afford rent, you don’t belong in Salinas!!

Please speak your mind to the council about real issues that are hurting your community and ask why they are attacking the poor. God’s will be done. Amen!

More information:

Monterey County Homeless Advocates
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1723196254578198/

Salinas City Council to consider camping ban ordinance
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/16/18791358.php

sm_salinas_camping_ban_loitering_city_council.jpg

Rain or Shine, HUFF hits the coffee and chatter Wednesay 11 AM Sub Rosa Cafe 9-14 until 1 PM or maybe 2 PM

HUFF agenda:  Reviewing our response to recent Camping Ban/RV Ban/ Property Seizure Fights in Marysville, Honolulu, San Rafael, Denver, and elsewhere; Embarrassing Questions to Raise at the Candidate Forums (like the one happening 9-14 at the SCPD Community Room at 6:30 PM run by the Santa Cruz Neighbors); Homeless Haters Out at Night With Cop Support?; and more…plus coffee, cream, and sugar

Homeless Bans Beaten Back Elsewhere; Santa Cruz Freedom Sleepers prepare SleepOut #62

Date Tuesday September 13

Time 4:00 PM – 8:00 AM
Location Details
Next to the belly of the beast–Santa Cruz City Hall–as close as sleepers dare lay down their bags, mats, and blankets. 809 Center St. Across from the Main Library. Starting on Tuesday afternoon and running through Wednesday morning.
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email
rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone
575-770–3377

STEADFAST SLEEPERS VERSUS SLUMBERING CITY COUNCIL
While sleeping continues to be illegal (and sleepers hassled) throughout Santa Cruz elsewhere, the Tuesday night “Safe Zone” set up by the persistence and determination of the Freedom Sleepers continues to shame city electeds and officials as they walk by with eyes averted.

The homeless-hostile City Council has an afternoon session with little or nothing on the agenda that alters the “no shelter for the poor”, “no relief from the cops” situation of folks outdoors, and no improvements for tenants and workers.

Mayor “Two Minute” Mathews is expected to allow only 2 minutes apiece at 5 p.m. for Oral Communications regardless of how few speakers there are and how much time is actually available. Tjhis is the time when folks can talk about items not on the agenda such as police abuse, tenant rights, access to public spaces, criminalization of the poor.

The Sidewalk Sleeper Community will likely find food and coffee as well as company Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

RV UPDATE
The first report of an overnight-RV-ban-in-the-County has come in, though there doesn’t yet seem to be massive enforcement. Santa Barbara activists are busy using the Coastal Commission access requirements to challenge their RV restrictions.

GOOD NEWS FROM OTHER CITIES: LEGAL PUSHBACK
Utah: http://fox13now.com/2016/06/10/aclu-warns-slc-about-violating-homeless-peoples-constitutional-rights/
http://www.acluutah.org/blog/item/1177-statement-on-homelessness#.V1q-cLl8xZo.twitter
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865655802/Salt-Lake-City-Council-eyes-580000-in-homeless-services-funding.html

Hawaii: Restitution Awarded: http://m.hawaiinewsnow.com/hawaiinewsnow/db_330510/contentdetail.htm?full=true&contentguid=qQcpzoCM&pn=&ps=#display
http://www.civilbeat.org/2016/08/lawsuit-over-homeless-sweeps-a-step-closer-to-settlement/ (and see comments!)

Pomona: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-pomona-homeless-settlement-20160911-snap-story.html
http://myinforms.com/en-us/a/41004526-pomona-settles-lawsuit-over-confiscation-of-homeless-peoples-property/

SALINAS STANDOFF
Meanwhile in Salinas, the Flagpole Community has slept out NIGHTLY at City Hall since late March. It plans a 6-Month Celebration on September 24th noon to 3 PM with a bbq (with the Mayor and City Council, perhaps, as the main dish?). “Whip ‘em into Shape” Wes White noted he may be trying a “mob the mike” strategy with the heart-deaf Salinas City Council today at 4 PM.

Freedom Sleepers need blankets, bags, food, friends, and other support–as ever. Come on down! https://www.facebook.com/groups/freedomsleepers/

HUFF reminder: Meeting Today at 11 AM

We will be meeting today at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa as ever.

On the agenda: the RV situation here compared with Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara, possible link-up’s with Venice in theri struggle, a (shudder) look ahead to the next City Council meeting, more brooding on how to make something meaningful out of this election season, Seattle’s landmark legislation to protect homeless encampments, and more…

 

Sleepers Assemble for Freedom SleepOut #61; Seattle Strides Forward

 Date Tuesday September 06

Time 5:00 PM Tuesday9 AM Wednesday

Location Details Snooze Along with the Suffering on the Sidewalk Near City Hall (Center between Locust and Church)
From late Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning.
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (entry by Norse)
Email
keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone
575-770–3377

SLEEP PROTEST CONTINUES–SLOW, SUSTAINED, AND STEADY
Pleasant weather, less police harassment, the lure of a safe(r) placer to sleep for at least one night, and the pulse of principle reportedly drew a larger group of sleepers last week and may continue to do so.

The issue continues to be the right to engage in necessary human functions in public places (with no private places being generally available to the poor outside). The basic need and right to sleep runs afoul of the City’s 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a).

This obscene law continues to be enforced whimsically by the SCPD and increased posse of Parks and Recreation Rangers, now acting as a genteel goon squad on Pacific Ave.

ELECTION ANTICS
With election rhetoric rattling about, some are hoping that the “Our Revolution: Santa Cruz for Bernie” bunch of endorsees (Drew Glover, Steve Schnaar, Chris Krohn, and Sandy Brown) will bring light and liberation to the City Council in the highly unlikely event that some or all of them get past the Big Money endorsees J.M Brown, Cynthia Mathews, Martine Watkins, and Robert Singleton.

Though there have been a few bright spots in the electoral forums, “support for finding legal supervised places to sleep within City limits” and 24-hour bathrooms is about as far as they seem willing to go. Apparently a year of Freedom Sleeper education about the futility and absurdity of banning sleep still can’t get past the desire to woo the most reactionary.

Meanwhile RV residents report increased pressure from the sheriffs in the County–in spite of the clear Coastal Commission indications that anti-RV laws violate the public access requirements of the Coastal Zone. Still no reported tickets though.

SEATTLE STIRRINGS
Meanwhile up in Seattle, a more active ACLU and allied groups are fighting back against the destruction of “illegal” homeless encampments. They aim to replace the current law and practice which allow demolition with 72-hour notice. The new law, if passed, would require proof that encampments pose “an imminent and likely public health or safety harm”; if a real emergency could be proved, then action could be taken within 48 hours.

In all other cases, the city would be required to undertake a 30-day process to notify and offer services to the people living in an encampment before forcing them to move. The law would apply to tents, cars/trucks, and RVs.

For any encampment that did not pose an immediate risk, outreach workers would have to, over the course of 30 days, offer the people staying there extensive outreach and “adequate and accessible housing” before the city could clear the area. If an area was going to be cleared, the city would have to notify the people living there of the specific date and time when the cleanup would occur and provide an explanation of what would happen during that process.

The law would also set up a more thorough process for documenting and storing people’s belongings that are taken during cleanups. It would require the city to provide trash pickup and sanitation services to any camps with more than five people, and it would create an advisory group to oversee the sweeps. If the city violated any terms of the new law while doing sweeps, it would have to pay each person affected $250 per violation.

For more information check out http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/08/24/24504796/homeless-advocates-propose-major-reforms-to-the-way-the-city-handles-homeless-encampments
and http://www.columbialegal.org/standing-shelter-everyone .

BUT BACK IN SANTA CRUZ
Meanwhile, City authorities dutifully backed up by the Scent-Anal (the local daily) have been pushing their old brand of paranoia with an announced indefinitely-extended “closing of the levee”.
Actually for a long time cops and rangers have selectively excluded the public (particularly the poor) from access to the river. Now a killing has become the pretext for a general shut down–more grist for the Take Back Santa Cruz agenda–with those who live outside being the usual targets.

Check out the stench of this sort of bigotry–all dressed up in witty words and fancy formatting. Hatred masquerading as public safety. Sniff out the garbage at http://www.santamierda.com/.

WINDBLOWN WHISTLEBLOWERS
Activists Pat and John Colby, evicted from their lodging after several years of fighting the powerful John Stewart Company, are reportedly spinning straw into silk. They’re active reporting ADA (Americans Disability Act) violations in city park restrooms and reportedly getting the promise of action. The old HUFF “Give a Shit” Campaign demanded 24-hour bathrooms at City Hall.

But City workers even had those bathrooms locked tight during business hours on the afternoon of the last Freedom Sleeper protest. Makes it easier to complain about all the pee and poopoo. The new supposedly public Portapotty at Lincoln and Cedar is also still locked during the day. If authorities won’t give a shit, they’ll find others will have to. In inconvenient spots. Tip of the hat to Pat and John for acting as a mobile monitoring squad–forcing the City to clean up its commodes.

 

TO MAKE AND READ COMMENTS GO TO: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/05/18790880.php

HUFF meets as ever at the Sub Rosa next to the Bike Church 11 AM Wednesday August 31st.

Agenda prospects:  Review and Response of Homeless (Lack of) Service Center (Non-) Response to a letter to Executive Director Phil Kramer asking for letter asking dismissal of camping tickets when his shelter(s) are full; Andy Carcello’s critique of HLOSC; recent election antics at the Monday night Election forum; the attack on MHCAN and its crackdown–direct responses; Freedom SleepOut 60 Update, and whatever else unfolds…

Coffee will be supplied as necessary.