In the wake of Freedom SleepOut #12 and the Blue Box Arraignment/Festival of the Streets this morning of Abbi Samuels and Keith McHenry, HUFF will be brooding on the latest Bell v. Boise court decision turning back the homeless lawsuit, upcoming Broken Windows forum in S.F. Thursday, the Exodus from the Jungle and homeless forum in San Jose Friday–and other coffee-drenched topics…
|Title:||Food Not Bombs Resumes Feeding at Freedom SleepOut #12|
|START DATE:||Tuesday September 29|
|TIME:||5:00 PM – 5:00 AM|
|In and around Santa Cruz City Hall at 809 Center St. across from the Main Library and the Civic Auditorium. Partially at City Council itself, which meets in the afternoon and evening, partially in the Council Courtyard, and partially on the sidewalks surrounding City Hall and across Center and Church streets. Police typically drive peaceful protesters away from City Hall and last week forced them off the sidewalk for an unusual and hours-late-in-coming “sidewalk cleaning”.|
|Contact Name||Robert Norse|
|Email Address||rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com|
|Address||309 Cedar PMB 14B S.C. CA 95060|
|Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry will be serving food at the protest at different points during the night and morning.
FESTIVAL OF THE STREETS WEDNESDAY MORNING
The “blue boxes” expanded the small spaces city reactionaries have designated as “performance pens” for downtown artists, vendors, speakers, and tablers.
DISAPPEARING BLUE DOTS
Recently the “blue dot boxes” have returned, but artists such as Alex Skelton and Joff Jones have insisted on their right to display and sell their artwork outside the few constricted spaces. Recently their citations for violating MC 5.43 were struck down by Commissioner Kim Baskett, for unclear reasons.
More background from Keith McHenry & others at http://www.indybay.org/
WHAT A FREEDOM SLEEPOUT IS ALL ABOUT
Some coverage of last Tuesday’s Freedom Sleep-Out: http://www.indybay.org/
Cops and rangers still enforce anti-sleeping laws in Santa Cruz such as the notorious MC 6.36 (which bans sleeping and covering up with blankets after 11 PM).
They harass, cite, arrest, and issue stay-away orders for homeless folks with no shelter seeking refuge in parks and other “closed areas” under MC 13.04.011 (which authorizes closing any public spaces without public hearing or comment).
SHELTER SHENANGANS AND POLICE HARASSMENT
We have also received reports of security guards turning away people trying to get in to sign the Waiting Lists at the River St. Shower. Showers at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center have recently reopened during mid-day for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but meals, bathrooms, and laundry for the general homeless population remain cut off since June.
Even before the recent shelter shutdown and “no emergency services” makeover, Santa Cruz had no shelter for 95% of its homeless residents, clients were being required to show ID, and confronted with a prison-like fenced-in area there.
TALK TO THE COMMUNITY VIA THE CITY COUNCIL
Those who wish to speak to the community (via the tv when addressing City Council) will have an opportunity around 5 PM Tuesday during the so-called Oral Communications period. At the last Council meeting, Lane delayed this period more than 2 hours to accommodate a reactionary attack on RV’s.
HARASSMENT AND PROTEST CONTINUE
Picketers greeted Mayor Don Lane at his recent appearance at the Rio Theater for a “compassion” event [See “Freedom Sleepers Press Conference ” at http://www.indybay.org/
The continued pressure at these weekly protests also provides a place for homeless people to sleep together in groups, documents how SCPD and First Alarm Security moves to repress protest as well as simple homeless survival behavior, and hopefully paves the way for future community, court, and federal government intervention.
Come on down and be a part of it!
Rabbi Phil Posner, the usual contact person for the Freedom Sleepers, is away on a social/religious journey and will be returning in November. The perspectives expressed in this story are mine.
However we are not live because we haven’t found studio space. There’s still a $500 reward for anyone who can find us a place that we negotiate a year’s lease on in the Santa Cruz area. And our transmitter needs a space, since, as for the last few years, it’s at a foreclosed location and may be forced to close down any time with only a week or two notice.
Older shows (hundreds of them) are available for addicts at http://radiolibre.org/brb/ Real old shows can be found at http://huffsantacruz.org/
Today’s show will air at the usual time (and hopefully Sunday’s too), but it will be a repeat of last week’s (or an older show). I haven’t yet mastered the technical expertise to post my own shows to the FRSC server, but hope to learn soon.
Much thanks to all you listeners out there over the years (and hopefully in future years).
NOTES BY NORSE: On Wednesday morning Santa Cruz police ramped up their attack on Freedom Sleepers at City Hall. A group of 20 people for the 11th Tuesday night weathered the high-intensity klieg lights, belching diesel engines, “no parking zones” and First Alarm Security surveillance to demand that the “no shelter, no sleep” policies of the Santa Cruz City Council end.
Homeless people and their housed supporters were driven onto the concrete sidewalk with the arrival of 14 police officers around midnight. One homeless woman–April– was given a $198 citation for “being at City Hall after dark”; the next day she was seen being carried in a stretcher near the SCPD HQ. Adding abuse to injury, police then conducted a second raid against protesters in sleeping bags who moved to the sidewalk to be “legal”, rousting with demands they leave so that “sidewalk cleaning” could be done.
Two hours later, for the first time in several months, a sidewalk scrubber machine arrived. The operator told one activist that he’d never done this before, i.e. that it was not a regular cleaning activity-./ The activist inferred that this was a new harassment tactic to discourage both protest and homeless people sleeping publicly in groups (where it is actually safer for them). Freedom Sleepers announced they will be back at City Hall for their 12 protest next Tuesday.
Vancouver, Washington ended its nighttime sleeping ban in a second vote of its City Council Monday night. But Santa Cruz bosses refuse to respect the basic survival need of sleep for those they want out of sight and out of town. Perhaps a pinch in the pocketbook may add some punch to the dozen protests. It’s not clear how much funding comes from federal sources, but if cash to the cruelty-coated policy of City Manager Martin Bernal is cut off, otherwise bigoted budget-minded bureaucrats may think again.
The River St. Shelter recently “liberalized” its policities allowing phone sign-up’s (831-459-6644) for its (lengthy) Waiting List. While on the list homeless people who get Sleeping Ban tickets supposedly get them automatically dismissed short of court. Of course, throughout July and August, the River St. Shelter’s own logs show it had none on its Waiting List that were dismissed. And requests to write a letter to the courts specifying that the shelter was full elicited a firm “no”. This was a 180 degree change in policy from previous years. But if their funding is threatened, will the compassion-challenged “service providers” suddenly shift course? If they have to show a record of abandoning NIMBY drive-out-the-poor criminalization policies or face a cash cutoff, things may change. To get the bucks, they and their friends in the police department may have to start respecting human rights long ignored.
TO FOLLOW THE LINKS IN THE ARTICLE BELOW, GO TO: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/09/22/3704274/hud-homelessness-criminalization-funding/
Criminalizing Homelessness Can Now Cost Cities Federal Money
by Scott Keyes Sep 22, 2015 2:22pm
After arguing last month that local ordinances criminalizing people for being homeless are unconstitutional, the Obama administration will now tie federal funding to whether municipalities are cracking down on criminalization measures.
Every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives out $1.9 billion in grants to local Continuums of Care, public-private partnerships that tackle homelessness in a specific area. These grants are doled out in a competitive process whereby applicants must fill out a lengthy questionnaire about how they plan to use the money, as well as their current policies.
Last week, though, HUD announced that it would begin asking applicants to describe the steps they are taking to reduce the criminalization of homelessness. Ordinances that criminalize homelessness, also known as “anti-vagrancy” or “quality of life” laws, include making it illegal to sit down on a sidewalk, ask passersby for spare change, or sleep in a public place. Applicants for the federal money will have to show they are engaging with local policymakers or law enforcement about criminalization policies, as well as implementing new community plans to ensure homelessness is not criminalized. Failing to combat such ordinances will hurt a Continuum of Care’s chances of winning new funds.
The change comes after the administration filed a brief in federal court arguing that criminalization violates the Eighth Amendment’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, hailed the latest move. “We welcome the federal government’s direction of tax limited dollars to the places that will most effectively use that money to address homelessness,” Foscarinis said in a statement. She also noted that HUD is giving sufficient weight to criminalization policies that the question “in many cases could be the difference between receiving funding and not.”
The Obama administration has made a pattern of connecting federal funding to desired outcomes in localities. Its signature education achievement, Race to the Top, encouraged schools across the country to raise their standards by making it a prerequisite to receive more federal funding. Obamacare ties some hospital funding to how effectively they avoid preventable infections and patient re-admissions. Homeless advocates hope that connecting HUD funding to the fight against homeless criminalization will have a similar impact.
It would come at a time that these policies have been popping up at an alarming rate. A study this year from the UC Berkeley law school identified over 500 anti-homeless laws on the books in just 58 California cities, while researchers at the Seattle University School of Law found criminalization ordinances in Washington had risen over 50 percent since 2000. Continue reading
Tuesday Sep 22nd, 2015 5:33 AM
On 9-22, I received a brief e-mail from City Manager Martin Bernal regarding the recent escalation of police force and First Alarm security guard violence against the Freedom Sleepers–a group protesting the City’s criminalization of homeless people. I present the following correspondence for public review so the community can decide what needs to be done next around this cruel repression of the most basic of human rights–the Right to Sleep at night without harassment. In a city which has essentially closed all accessible emergency shelter. Recent tallying of citations by police and rangers reveals nearly 1000 citations have been issued under MC 6.36 (Camping, Blanket, and Sleeping Bans) in the last three months. Nearly an equal number have been issued for MC 13.04.011 (“being in a closed area”–meaning being in a park, greenbelt, or at City Hall after dark). Fines for these offenses range from $157 to $198. The River St. Shelter refuses to voluntarily provide information to the courts documenting that their shelters were full on nights when people got citations.
Police intensified repression at our Tuesday 9-1 peaceful Freedom Sleepers protest demanding the Right to Sleep at night for those outside.
On 9-1 (and all subsequent Tuesdays) we were greeted with Security Guards, high-intensity klieg lights, a ‘no parking’ zone established around the protest area and harsher police behavior leading to unjustified arrests and First Alarm violence.
On 9-8 we sought to present a compromise proposal to Bernal regarding our willingness to leave City Hall if there were two weeks of good faith no-ticketing under the Sleeping Ban and other anti-camping ordinances, given the complete lack of emergency shelter.
We also tried to deal with vague staff accusations of activist misconduct undocumented by any specific complaints and contradicted by the reports of security guards and city employees. Several of us met with City Manager Martin (pronounced marTEEn) Bernal the morning before the 9-8 City Council meeting. Bernal dismissed our compromise proposal (which also included asking police to contact the River St. Shelter to determine if there were any beds before issuing a Sleeping Ban citation) but agreed to respond to certain other concerns. Police repression intensified with the false arrest of myself, Kevin Rothwell, and Lucero Luna. Our arrests were followed on 9-15 by that of Abbi Samuels for walking across the street with a thermos of coffee for the protest and that of Christina Barnes for talking back to a First Alarm Security Guard.
When Bernal had not responded as promised, I wrote to him.
FIRST LETTER FOLLOWING UP ON 9-8 MEETING BETWEEN FREEDOM SLEEPERS AND CITY MANAGER MARTIN BERNAL
At the meeting you had with Rabbi Phil Posner, Steve Pleich, Steve Carter and me on 9-8, you agreed to follow up on assessing whether MC 13.04.011 allows us to be on the the City Hall grounds on access pathways according to the clear language of the statute. And whether the language of this statute was going to be respected in the future, unlike in past incidents where it has not been.
Many of us face citations for being on the City Hall grounds “after closing hours” which will shortly be going to court. I expect these citations to either be dismissed (and to advise us of this fact) or let us know you intend to proceed with prosecution–so that we can prepare the requisite subpoenas. I suggest the simplest approach is for you to direct police to acknowledge their error and proceed with a clean slate and a respect for the presence of peaceful protesters at City Hall.
You also agreed to determine whether we will be provided clear access to the City Council agendas–as we were not last night when there were at least 4 posted agendas of Commissions or Committees meeting in the next 48 hours.
You’ve also declined to provide any written evidence of complaints or concerns about past Freedom Sleeper sleep-out’s, though these undocumented “concerns’ have reportedly been used to intensify harassment of peaceful protesters. Is your position still unchanged on this issue?
Your First Alarm Security–present in unusually heavy force last night (5 of them)–recently assaulted an African-American woman, Christina Barnes, whose screams of pain lasted for five minutes. The First Alarm guards involved covered their badges and name plates and refused to give their superior’s name. What if anything will you be doing about this?
Please advise me at your earliest, since I’m meeting with HUFF members today at 11 AM. And it has been more than a week.
HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom)831-423-4833
BERNAL’S REPLY AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE ARE AT https://www.indybay.org/
A recent reply from the most powerful official in Santa Cruz, Martin Bernal underlines the refusal to even allow peaceful protest at City Hall around our Sleeping Ban, even if the participants are awake, have no bedding, and are simply carrying a sign. Multiple citations under the anti-homeless “Park” closing law (misapplied to City Hall) MC 13.04.011 provides $198 penalty for being at City hall after 10 PM. See “Silence from the City Manager on the Eve of the 11th Freedom Sleepers Protest” at https://www.indybay.org/
Vancouver officials tour growing tent city
As city council reaffirms vote to amend camping ordinance, offers of help to find solutions stream in
Published: September 21, 2015, 9:33 PM
Representatives of Vancouver’s business community, downtown and neighborhoods offered the city council their help Monday in finding solutions to the
city’s homeless problem — and as quickly as possible.
“Leaving people to the streets is not our final option here,” said John McKibbon, speaking on behalf of Identity Clark County, a nonprofit business advocacy group, during the council’s public hearing. “We do want to be involved, and we do want to help.”
A growing tent city in the west end of downtown has added to the collective sense of urgency in creating additional shelter space, sanitary facilities and services for the homeless, especially now that police stopped enforcing a city ban against overnight camping earlier this month. The city council is holding a workshop Oct. 5 to discuss progress it’s making with community partners on the issue.
Monday, the council reaffirmed its Sept. 14 vote to amend Vancouver’s unlawful camping ordinance to allow camping in public places from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Such overnight camping previously had been a misdemeanor. The change wouldn’t affect park hours (parks close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) or laws prohibiting disorderly conduct, drinking in public, urinating in public and other health and safety issues.
The city’s legal staff recommended the change in response to a federal Department of Justice opinion issued Aug. 8 on a case pending in federal court in Boise, Idaho. The opinion states that outlawing camping in all places and all times, including when shelter space is unavailable, is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional.
During the public hearing Monday evening, Richard Bryleu told the council that police should show up at the homeless camp surrounding his property in the Esther Short neighborhood at 6:30 a.m. to encourage people to pack up and move along.
“It should not be an easy life,” Bryleu said. “‘Oh boy, I can go into Share House, I can get free food, I can hang out with my friends and my enemies.’”
But, he said, “it’s never going to go away. I know that. Not completely.”
As of January, there were 662 homeless people in Clark County, of which 208 weren’t sheltered, according to the annual Point-in-Time Count, an unscientific census of homeless people that’s taken on a single day. In the last two years, 6,516 people sought emergency shelter in Vancouver, of which, 82 percent were turned away because of a lack of shelter space, City Attorney Bronson Potter said, citing statistics from the Council for the Homeless.
Monday afternoon, Vancouver city leaders got a close-up view of the situation as they walked the blocks around the Share House shelter, 1115 W. 13th St. Accompanied by police, Mayor Tim Leavitt, Councilor Alishia Topper and City Manager Eric Holmes observed dozens of tents, tarps and bicycles lining the sidewalks and fences on West 12th and 13th streets, Lincoln Avenue, Jefferson Street and King Street. People milled around. Trash blew through the gutters.
“It’s as bad as it’s been in years,” observed Vancouver Police Department Cmdr. Amy Foster.
Holmes, who drives through the area several times a week, agreed.
“Three months ago, it was different. Three weeks ago, it was different,” he said.
Troy Johns, owner of Urban NW Homes, said transients frequently defecate on the doorstep of his West 13th Street office building, shower with the building’s outdoor faucets and throw their garbage next to the trash cans he’d set out. Johns pointed to the cars parked along the street that hadn’t moved in months. People were living in them, he said.
Foster said it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Under city ordinance, vehicles can’t park in one spot for more than 24 hours or they can be tagged and towed, she said. But they have nowhere to go, and forcing them to move just transfers the problem from one spot to another, Holmes said.
Topper stopped to talk to Calvin Chastang, who lives in a tent on 12th Street. She asked him, what was the solution to the homeless problem?
“Give everybody a million dollars,” he said, bursting into laughter.
“There is no solution,” said Chastang, 52. “Some of them want to be here. Some of them get stuck. … Once you get there, it’s hard to get out.”
Leavitt wondered where all the people were coming from, and why they were showing up there.
Foster said it was likely they’d already been living in Vancouver, but in hidden spots. For instance, there had been a large camp along the riverfront until construction on the downtown waterfront project began this year. Now they were coming out into the open, she said.
“It’s going to take everyone to come together and find a good solution,” Topper said.
Leavitt said until the city and its partners get a day shelter established where people can shower, the city should set up expectations that the homeless pick up after themselves. Residents of the Hough neighborhood just a few blocks a way had been cleaning up the trash. Johns said he’d certainly collected his fair share of it.
“Seeing what’s going on out here really puts an impetus on the community to figure out an alternative,” Leavitt said. “We obviously cannot continue to allow this to grow on our streets of West Vancouver.”
HUFFsters will slurp coffee and trade stories of Freedom SleepOut #11 at the usual time and place (703 Pacific) as well as review recent tallies of Park and Recreation Citations (thank you, Avian and Laura!). Coming up also–the “End the Violence Against Freedom Sleepers and the Homeless” Press Conference Thursday 5:30 PM in front of the Rio Theater, the River St. Shelter Waiting List–Hoax or Delusion?, Vancouver’s Decision to End the Sleeping Ban, and other stuff as well!
|Title:||No Council Meet But Freedom Sleepers Gather for SleepOut #11|
|START DATE:||Tuesday September 22|
|TIME:||5:00 PM – 5:00 AM|
|In the City Hall Courtyard as long as folks choose, and then on the sidewalks nearby. The event is scheduled to go on until 7:30 AM or 8 AM Wednesday 9-23.|
|Contact Name||Phil Posner (posting by Norse)|
|Email Address||chatrabbi [at] aol.com|
|OBJECTIVE; TO END LAWS MAKING HOMELESS SLEEP A CRIME
The Freedom Sleepers is a Coalition of organizations including Food Not Bombs, Homeless Depot, the Homeless Legal Assistance Project, HUFF, and Housing Now! in Santa Cruz.
We want to end the Sleeping Ban, Camping Ban, Blanket Ban, Lodging Ban–and other laws that make survival camping a crime in Santa Cruz.
Instead of citing and arresting people under MC 6.36 (the Camping Ordinance), police have been using the Closed Areas ordinance, which allows city authorities to designate large areas as “forbidden to enter” at night. One of these areas is the City Hall courtyard, a large grassy area in front of City Hall, the seat of government in Santa Cruz.
However in other parts of Santa Cruz in the last three months, police and rangers have issued nearly 1000 Sleeping Ban tickets, costing $157 each. There is no emergency shelter program operating; waiting lists for transitional programs are full; and social services for such essentials as food, showers, laundry, and bathrooms have been eliminated for the general homeless population at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center.
COUNTERING VIOLENCE BY FIRST ALARM SECURITY
See “Sleepout protest fighting Santa Cruz anti-camping ordinance moves into tenth week” at http://www.indybay.org/
“First Alarm Security Guards Violently Detain Woman at Santa Cruz City Hall” at http://www.indybay.org/
“2 Harassment Arrests, 2 “Standing in a Parking Spot” Cites at Freedom Sleepers Protest #10″ at http://www.indybay.org/
PRESS CONFERENCE 9-24 5:45 PM IN FRONT OF RIO THEATER
In response, we will be inviting the media to hear accounts of police abuse by homeless folks and housed activists. The conference will feature homeless speakers and Rabbi Phil Posner as well as others impacted by the new crackdown.
SLEEPOUT WILL PROVIDE PB&J, PORTAPOTTY, AND PALS
City Council has cancelled its regular second 4th Tuesday of the month meeting in deference to a Jewish holiday, but declines to suspend nightly harassment of homeless refugees outside who have no place to sleep (and are often hassled during the day for being visibly present in public spaces).
THE VANCOUVER, WA BREAKTHROUGH
EVERYONE INVITED: DO YOUR PART !
WITNESSES ARE ESPECIALLY WELCOME…between 9:30 PM and midnight, when police regularly descend with ticke books and handcuffs. Bring a sleeping bag, a blanket, some food, video and audio equipment, and some friends. We need your help. The conscience of the City requires it.
Shortly thereafter, they stopped Food Not Bombs organizer Abbi Samuels when she crossed the street with a coffee container. When asked her name, she referred them to Sgt. Forbis standing nearby, and was immediately handcuffed and hauled off to jail for “obstructing an officer”.
The level of harassment is rising
I have further comments below and encourage folks to go to https://www.indybay.org/
Wednesday Sep 16th, 2015 5:48 PM
On the evening of September 15, two First Alarm security guards, Nathan Hammack and Ken Hietala, violently detained Christina Latic Barnes, a black woman who had been peacefully sitting on the lawn in the courtyard of Santa Cruz City Hall during hours the area is open to the public. The security guards were employed by the city to monitor the Freedom Sleepers, who held their tenth in a series of all-night sleepouts at City Hall organized to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness. [Top video: The video can also be viwed at: https://youtu.be/sV9O-frMPyA ]
Copy the following to embed the movie into another web page:
|download video: first_alarm_security_guards.
When Barnes stood up, Hietala then walked behind her and stood very near to her body. Hammack also quickly moved in.
“I was bombarded by two men,” she recalled in an interview conducted later that evening.
She was standing next to her blanket, and within an area that was delineated by other possessions of hers that were casually laid out on the lawn close to her.
Barnes said she was stretching her arms and she accidentally touched Hietala, which is when the trouble began.
He told her she had assaulted him and that she was under arrest for battery.
“He was within my physical reach for no legal reason,” she explained. “He was within my boundaries.”
It is unclear which of the two security guards placed the handcuffs on her, but she said she thought they were adjusted especially tightly in order to intentionally cause her physical pain.
“Purposely, it was done,” she said.
Barnes was also barefoot through the entire incident.
After she was handcuffed, Hammack attempted to take control of Barnes’ body. She writhed in pain from his tugging and prodding, and in response he told her numerous times to stop “resisting” the arrest.
“I was not resisting,” Barnes said. “I was hurting.”
The two struggled physically back and forth and Hammack stated loudly to those present that Barnes had just bit him.
Briefly they both stopped tugging at each other, and Hammack dragged Barnes along on her feet to the front entrance of City Hall.
“Stop resisting, it’s gonna go a lot easier,” Hammack said to her firmly.
When in the front area of City Hall, Hammack pushed Barnes down into a sitting position on the stone retaining wall that surrounds the civic complex.
Over the span of the incident, Barnes asked Hammack many times to stop hurting her, and she also asked for a female security officer because she felt that Hammack and Hietala were touching her inappropriately. When seated on the stone wall, she began to push at both guards with her feet in what appeared to be an attempt to move them away from her.
Hammack responded by grabbing her with both hands and slamming her body on to the stone wall. She screamed and continued to say, “stop.”
When she was dropped on to the stone wall, she landed on her abdomen. The guards the shoved her face first into an agave plant that bore sharp, spiny leaves.
The security guards grabbed on to Barnes tightly and twisted her legs and body in order to flip her over. At one point her back was bent backwards as Hammack pinned her down to the retaining wall.
Barnes attempted to communicate and plead with the guards through the entire incident that the handcuffs they put on her were far too tight.
Angry onlookers surrounded the guards as they threw Barnes around on the stone wall.
“Stop hurting her,” they shouted repeatedly, though no one physically intervened.
At least four people video recorded the incident at close range.
Hietala used his walkie talkie to request a police backup. When Rodney Dukelow, the first officer from the Santa Cruz Police Department to arrive, he led Barnes away from Hammack and Hietala, and walked her to his patrol vehicle.
He provided some real relief for Barnes, she said. He worked to properly adjust the handcuffs that were placed on her by the First Alarm guards. She shrieked loudly in pain during the process.
“When the police officers came and tried to finish the arrest, I proceeded to get them to loosen up the handcuffs because First Alarm was not cooperating with my requests” she said.
Five additional police officers arrived and positioned themselves between Barnes and the large group of protesters that had amassed on the sidewalk in front of City Hall since the melee had begun.
Center Street was packed with police vehicles parked in the middle of the street.
Police politely escorted Hammack across the street from City Hall, where an officer briefly questioned him. She then photographed two areas on his body that he alleged were physically impacted by Barnes during the incident.
One officer on the scene could be heard calling for assistance, and the SCPD’s Lt. Christian LeMoss arrived a short time later. There were many witnesses and police took down the accounts of what they saw.
After a brief stay in county jail, Barnes returned on foot to City Hall at around 1am. She was in physical pain, but in good spirits. She said she had been treated fine in jail and that she was arrested on the charge of battery.
When asked where on her body she was hurt, she said her right hand hurt and her arms were, “still swollen.”
Additionally, she was bruised all over her body, she said.
Earlier in the day, Hammack openly exhibited abusive behavior towards a variety of individuals present in the City Hall courtyard.
Two different individuals stated that they had seen Hammack trying to coerce Barnes into leaving the City Hall courtyard, even though she wasn’t breaking any laws and it was her right to enjoy the space.
A short while later, Hammack could be heard telling another individual, “If you touch me I will arrest you, handcuff you, and drag you to jail.” The person Hammack threatened appeared to be maintaining a safe, respectful distance from him.
First Alarm Security Services was founded in Santa Cruz County. According to their website, the company employs more than 600 security guards throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Through growth, experience, and acquisition, First Alarm has become a name widely recognized for safety and dependability,” the website states.
“Our mission is to enhance life and safety.”
“At First Alarm we have a high level of accountability to our employees, our customers, and the communities we serve,” the website further states.
Over a hundred individuals have stayed the night at City Hall as part of the Freedom Sleepers’ community sleepouts, which began on July 4. The city government has not been supportive of the protests, though, and city staff has directed the police to aggressively crack down on them.
For more information about the sleepouts, see:
Comments (Hide Comments)
Wednesday Sep 16th, 2015 9:39 PM
The guards involved were not Nathan Hammack and Ken Hietla, so I wonder if First Alarm bosses are advising their patrol people generally not to identify themselves and to use a “battery” charge if they are confronted for abusive behavior or failure to identify themselves. Or whether they’re picking up this practice from some SCPD officers.
Several weeks ago, as Lt. Christian Le Moss set up the 30′ high klieg lights for the first time, I asked him why that action was being taken. He refused to answer. I didn’t recognize him as the man who fractured a elderly homeless woman’s arm some years back (See “Sgt LeMoss broke 60 year old woman’s arm May 9” at http://www.indybay.org/
It is generally my experience though that SCPD officers do identify themselves. As police and security guard force escalates at the Freedom Sleeper protests, this may be changing. For instance, I don’t recall that the three female officers who arrested Lucero Luna on 9-8 out of the blue responded to questions of who they were and what the charges were. [On being released from jail hours later, Lucero reported she’d been given the catch-all we-can’t-find-anything-else charge of “interfering with an officer”).
The more folks with video devices who show up at the protest next Tuesday, the better.
The public education campaign at City Council can be sandwiched nicely in-between a scheduled 3 PM press conference denouncing violence against homeless advocates and individuals and the 11th SleepOut slated for later that night. Last night, police falsely arrested Abbi Samuels for “insufficient ID” (the charge was “obstructing an officer’) when they knew perfectly well who she was. First Alarm security guards, concealing their name tags and badge numbers brutalized Christina Barnes for battery after stalking her throughout the early evening.
Some have suggested taking sleeping bags into City Council chambers during the evening and simply rolling them out to sleep there, given the city refusal to fund emergency shelter or lift the sleeping ban, as Vancouver is now doing. Folks are invited to come on down to witness or participate in the day (and night)’s events.
The city has banned people from camping outside in public places since the late 1990s.
Police stopped enforcing the ban entirely about two weeks ago after the U.S. Justice Department put out a statement of interest on Aug. 6 saying the government can’t ban people from sleeping outside.
The document says banning people from doing so is like saying being homeless is illegal, which the Justice Department says is unconstitutional.
“… it just keeps ‘em homeless.”
Tents and tarps line the streets around the Share House homeless shelter on West 13th Street in Vancouver.
Katherine Garrett, the shelter’s program director, said the problem is worse than ever.
“I’ve never seen this much open camping before,” said Garrett, who’s been working with the homeless in Vancouver since 2001.
She said the Share House is now serving a record 9,000 meals per month.
“It impacts more garbage,” said Garrett about the camping situation. “It impacts things that we can’t provide for them. We don’t have enough blankets, we don’t have backpacks.”
Technically, the people camping out in the area are now breaking the law.
Since 1997, the city has made camping in public places a misdemeanor.
“A lot of times it just keeps ‘em homeless,” said Garrett. “Getting tickets for camping, vagrancies, any of that always puts a black mark when it comes to getting employment or housing.”
Police Chief James McElvain told KATU officers hadn’t been cracking down on illegal camping all that much.
“On average, we were finding our officers citing about nine people in a month,” said McElvain.
A proposed ordinance going before the city Monday night would allow people to camp out legally from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
McElvain said the ordinance would still allow police to crack down on other behaviors.
“You can’t be drinking alcohol in public, you can’t be urinating in public, you can’t be fighting in public,” said McElvain, “and you can’t block people’s pathway on a sidewalk.”
Kevin Lisman, who just became homeless in March, said he wishes people would have more sympathy.
“I had a job,” said Lisman. “I was working. I was making a good salary and then all of the sudden the roof fell in.”
The City Council will vote on the proposal Monday night. (Update: Council has approved the first reading of proposed ordinance. It will move to a second reading and a public hearing next Monday.)
Tristia Bauman, senior attorney for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington D.C., sent KATU a statement saying:
We are pleased that cities are paying attention to what the Justice Department has said, and that they are revising their criminalization policies. We are concerned, however, when cities attempt to do the bare minimum. Vancouver’s law does not go far enough to address the constitutional problems identified by the federal government. Moreover, it is not the kind of constructive policy that the federal government is actively promoting, and that other cities are successful implementing. The much more cost-effective, constitutional, and humane approach is to provide permanent housing to homeless people.
“It is legal in Portland to sleep overnight in public spaces,” said Dana Haynes, spokesman for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “That includes parks and sidewalks. It isn’t legal to put up structures. That includes tents.”
Vancouver OKs overnight camping in public places
Unanimous vote by city council amends ordinance
Vancouver Police Cpl. Drue Russell, left, runs a man’s identification that he found camping next to the Slocum House in Esther Short Park while VPD Cpl. Duane Boynton secures the man after he disclosed to officers that he was carrying a knife, as part of an ongoing effort by authorities to make the park a safer place on Friday March 4, 2011. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
Published: September 14, 2015, 9:13 PM
Amending a Vancouver city ordinance to allow overnight camping in public places is just a “baby step” toward solving the city’s homeless troubles and lack of shelter space, citizens told the city council Monday.
“I don’t want to see the council put a bow on our problem and make it look all pretty by providing (camping) hours when we’re not addressing the real issues,” Hough neighborhood resident Heidi Owens said.
The council unanimously voted Monday to change Vancouver’s unlawful camping ordinance to allow camping in public places from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Such overnight camping previously had been a misdemeanor. The change wouldn’t affect park hours (parks close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) or laws prohibiting disorderly conduct, drinking in public, urinating in public and other health and safety issues.
The city’s legal staff recommended the change in response to a federal Department of Justice opinion, issued Aug. 8, on a case pending in federal court in Boise, Idaho. The opinion states that outlawing camping in all places and all times, including when shelter space is unavailable, is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional. Basically, the opinion says, all people have a right to sleep.
Mayor Tim Leavitt said he realizes some residents aren’t happy about the change to the camping ordinance.
“We have to do this because we’re not going to win taking on the Supreme Court,” he said.
City Manager Eric Holmes emphasized that the ordinance revision is an interim measure while the city continues to look for solutions. Vancouver has a lack of toilets, showers and trash cans for the homeless — and an overwhelming need for beds.
Andy Silver, executive director of the Council for the Homeless, told the city council that 823 different people called the housing hotline this summer asking for emergency shelter. The agency was forced to say no to 722 of them — 88 percent — due to lack of shelter space, he said.
“Those folks have nowhere else to go,” Silver said. “I’m very optimistic that this is a step in the right direction, but I don’t want anyone to think this is the end of the road.”
Katherine Garrett, director of Share House, said that in the eyes of landlords, people who have three camping violations on their record might as well have a felony. Continuing to cite homeless people, fine them and jail them hinders their movement forward and keeps the cycle of homelessness going, she said.
“They don’t have a chance,” she said.
Councilor Bart Hansen said he didn’t want to see “an unnecessary amount of resources going into people who have a tent up.”
Police would not be doing “sweeps” of homeless camps, but they would respond to complaints from neighborhood residents and business people about problems such as fighting and drinking in public, Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said. Even then, officers have discretion about handling situations.
“Our first go-to isn’t to enforce the law. Our first go-to is to gain compliance from people. I don’t see us immediately going out and citing somebody,” McElvain said. “We’re not going to ignore it. … But our priority starts with crimes against persons and then crimes against property.”
FOR THE STAFF REPORT AND PROPOSED TEXT OF THE ORDINANCE, GO TO