Likely HUFF Agenda topics: The mini-Winter Shelter program beginning tomorrow; the future of HUFF, prep for the rain-free Stop-More-Police-Killings protest Saturday 1:30 PM at the Town Clock, Victory with Video–the impact of local on-line video in curbing harassment of homeless folks, and more !
Time4:00 PM Tuesday November 29th – 9:00 AM Wednesday November 30th
Location Details After “Rousted Into the Rain” treatment during the last Freedom Sleepout a week ago [see “After Rain, Santa Cruz Police Eject Homeless…” at https://www.indybay.org/
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Driving unsheltered people out from under the eaves of City Hall last week was apparently not enough for authorities. Photojournalist Brent Adams has provided a vivid video of a City Ranger confiscating a homeless sleeping bag as “trash”, stopped only by the Adam’s video documentation and probing questioning. [see “Should City Workers Trash Survival Bedding During Winter Months?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Levee sleeper Ricardo Lopez made an earlier report of Rangers seizing the property of an elderly companion weathering cancer and cold weather there. And then refusing to return it. Historically Parks and Recreation under the notorious John Wallace openly declared they threw away homeless gear as a matter of course.
With the success of the Fresno Kinkaid lawsuit in 2007 winning $2.3 million for the homeless for wanton destruction of homeless survival gear, our Parks and Recreation changed its cover story. Its claims to be handing over property confiscated to the police are contradicted by repeated witness testimony. Additionally police–though open throughout the business day, refuse to limit pick-up times to 4 hours a week.
Increasingly Freedom Sleepers are resisting when confronted with unconstitutional “get out into the rain” or “move along” demands from police and rangers, especially at the Freedom SleepOuts.
Last week’s last full City Council meeting of the year gave no indication of any expansion of necessary Winter Shelter or retreat from the campaign to destroy homeless encampments. For more details see “Saving Survival Gear and Joining the Struggle to Defend Our Own Refugees in Santa Cruz ” at https://www.indybay.org/
BERKELEY BOSSES ON A DIFFERENT ROAD?
The “Warm Wind from Berkeley” story also chronicles the starkly different direction of the Berkeley Mayor and his allies there supporting encampments and directing a response to the homeless shelter crisis. Whether Mayor Arreguin follows through on his promises is uncertain, but Berkeley disabled activist Dan MacMullan reported on Free Radio Sunday that the Mayor and several Councilmembers actually met directly with homeless occupiers in the Poor Tour encampment to discuss their needs. Listen at http://radiolibre.org/brb/
SONOMA AUTHORITIES CREATE SAFE PARKING ZONE
Sonoma County authorities are taking baby steps to set up a 5-car Safe Parking Program outside a local homeless shelter there in a 4-month pilot program. See http://www.sonomanews.com/
WINTER SHELTER TO PARTIALLY OPEN DECEMBER 1ST
A flyer distributed at the Red Church Monday night announced beginning 12-1, folks will be picked up between 4 and 5:30 PM at 1220 River St. (north of the Tannery and several blocks from the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] at 115 Coral St. The flyer mentioned there will be “intake and storage” at the site with buses returning to the pick-up spot from the 7th Ave. VFW building (location not mentioned) with breakfast at the River St. site at 6:30 AM.
Unmentioned is the fact that there will be space for only 50 people (though on January 1, a second downtown Salvation Army site will open for another 50). There are an estimated 1000-2000 unhoused folks in the City.
It’s unclear what folks should do with their pets and service animals. Also rather telling is the apparent determination not to trust homeless people to go directly to the shelter areas–perhaps pandering to fears and prejudices of nearby NIMBY’s (Not-In-My-BackYard Take Back Santa Cruz types). Perhaps also out of fear that homeless folks beyond the privileged 50 might cluster outside to sleep outside as is often the case near the HLOSC.
So far the Warming Center has not opened once this fall. City support has been limited to funding Rangers and cops, whose job seems to be to drive homeless people away from the protection of the eaves of the library and City Hall.
POLICE PROFILING AND RANGER RIP-OFF’S UNDER PROTEST SATURDAY
The twice-postponed protest demanding an end to homeless (and racial) profiling is slated for 1:30 PM at the Town Clock Saturday December 3rd. Activists demand an end to harassment, ticketing, and arrests for life-sustaining behaviors such as being in parks after dark, resting on Pacific Avenue, and, of course, sleeping after 11 PM anywhere in Santa Cruz.
Also being demanded: the video and audio of the shootings of Sean Arlt and Luke Smith as well as the name of the officer(s) who shot Arlt. Incomplete video has been released of the Smith slaying [http://www.santacruzsentinel.
NOTES FROM NORSE: The new Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin has sent out an important Announcement regarding Emergency Measures to Address the Homeless Crisis. It is printed in its entirety below.
Meanwhile in collusion with the heavy hand of City Manager Martin Bernal, Mayor Mathews’ lame-duck City Council have voted over $200,000 to fund homeless-harassing “Parks and Recreation” Rangers.
Their ‘recreation’ seems to be patrolling Pacific Avenue–as though it were a park. They will be handsomely paid for harassing people for sitting down near a building, playing an instrument outside the tiny “performance pens” delineated by brass discs on the sidewalk, and generally intimidating poor people who do not follow their orders. This latest salary boost includes surveillance cameras and was voted unanimously by the “liberal” outgoing Councilmembers Lane and Posner.
Unable to find or even look for emergency money for the winter shelter crisis in Santa Cruz, the Council’s response to the arrival of several hundred protesters on November 22nd was to encourage staff to expand next year’s budget, but do nothing to expand shelter or rein in police attacks on homeless people sheltering themselves this winter.
A report from an RV activist who lives in her van noted a Thanksgiving night incident. Officer Calhoun, she writes, knocked on the RVs and made contact with whomever would answer, (most did not) telling RVs to move along. “I pointed out to Calhoun”, the activist continues, ” that the signage said I was legally parked. His reply after confirming the fact was that he “Imagined” I am living in my rv and habitating a vehicle in santa cruz is illegal. This was about a half mile from the beach.”
While the absurd anti-homeless Sleeping Ban does ban sleeping in your vehicle, outside, or in any non-residential building after 11 PM, there is no such law regarding “habitating a vehicle” in the City. The California Coastal Commission, in fact, specifically declined to okay Councilmember Richelle Niroyan‘s anti-RV law, and such abuses are illegal. We’ll see if Niroyan insists her friends on the police force respect the rights of those whose only shelter is their vehicle and follow the law as she and her Take Back Santa Cruz friends shrilly demand of the homeless. If so, a public statement clarifying that police have no business harassing people in RV’s at night is in order.
The 50 shelter spaces available on 7th Avenue for emergency shelter in December for 1000-2000 homeless are clearly a joke solution.
Santa Cruz could easily and justifiably adopt some of the measures that Berkeley’s Mayor proposes. Demand they do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-420-5020. Or you can leave a message for the real power in the City and contact City Mangler Bernal at email@example.com or 831-420-5030.
From: Carol Denney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2016 2:49 PM
To: Robert Norse
Subject: proposal for Dec 13
Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín
Friday November 25, 2016 – 10:50:00 AM
I have placed the following on the Berkeley City Council Agenda for December 13:
Take the following actions to implement emergency measures to address our growing homeless population:
1. Direct the City Manager to provide an update on staff and Council actions discussed on November 1, 2016 to respond to the homeless shelter crisis.
2. Direct the City Manager and Chief of Police to permit camping on designated public property, unless conditions arise posing an imminent threat to health and safety.
3. Establish an ad-hoc subcommittee to work with the City Manager to explore emergency solutions, including short-term Navigation Centers.
4. Refer to the City Manager and City Attorney to develop a formal city policy modeled after the proposed amendment to San Francisco’s Police Code.
5. Adopt an Ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 7,449-N.S., which restricts the placement of objects on sidewalks to a 2 square-foot area.
Our city is experiencing a homeless and shelter crisis. On January 2015, the nonprofit organization EveryOne Home performed a point-in-time count of Berkeley’s homeless population, which showed a 53 percent increase in the unsheltered homeless population since 2009, and a 23 percent spike in homelessness overall, from 680 to 834 homeless people in total. Currently the number of homeless individuals in Berkeley far exceeds the amount of shelter beds and transitional housing opportunities available. Additionally, our city’s Storm Shelter at the 1st Congregational Church was destroyed in a fire, even more greatly reducing our shelter capacity.
In response to the worsening conditions on our streets locally and regionally, the City Council voted unanimously on January 19, 2016 to declare a homeless shelter crisis, which was just renewed on November 15 for another year. Although extending the resolution was an important step needed to minimize the red tape of potential solutions, it is in and of itself not a solution. And as our city’s residents, service providers and homeless individuals and families can attest to, shelter is needed now, particularly as winter conditions worsen.
As recommended by the Community Health Commission, the City should be immediately focused on saving lives, which can be accomplished by calling for a moratorium on the eviction of encampments until a plan is developed. Additionally, adding specific language similar to San Francisco in our Police Code regarding encampment relocation procedure will further protect our most vulnerable and their possessions.
NOTES BY NORSE: Yale Law School eggheads and privileged pundits are just now getting around to acknowledging the basics. This is what poor people have known for centuries, Santa Cruz HUFF activists raged about for decades, and the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty has been issuing reports on year-after-year–the outrageous, cruel, hypocritical, and oblivious treatment of those outside.
Meanwhile in Santa Cruz a wet cold winter is upon us replete with buffed up Park Ranger Bullies and Surveillance Cameras passed to the tune of $200,000+ [item #16 on last Tuesday’s Council agenda] No City Council emergency funding being released to deal with the long-declared Shelter Emergency. Nary a peep of protest from the local ACLU or the recycled “Brand New Council” electeds Krohn and S. Brown. Not a word from Trump-panicked protesters who surprisingly appeared en masse showed up at City Council Tuesday. Little more than the thin promise of “more money down the road” from out-going City Council still presided over by the newly-elected “Two Minute” Mathews. After nearly two months, the “no time for public comment” Mayor has still not responded to simple requests for itemizing funding allegedly being spent on homeless services.
The City Council has snubbed community activist Warming Center initiatives and proceeded to paper over the pain by assigning the ill-prepared and miniscule Association of Faith Communities with no formal input from the unhoused community that the 50-person shelter throughout December is funded to serve.
Meanwhile Kevin Vogel’s SCPD continues to stonewall in the face of subdued but persistent community outrage against the murder of Sean Arlt, refusing to release audio, video, and killer officer name, much less file charges against the shooter(s) for manslaughter (at the very least). And even the bright-and-shiny 21st Century policing posturing Sheriff’s Department headed by Jim Hart is only releasing partial video of its latest gundown of 4″-knife wielding Luke Smith in the sacred name of “officer safety”. Unable to jacket Smith with a criminal history, the spinmeisters are bemoaning “mental illness” as their latest excuse for institutionalized police brutality–a new scapegoat to cover up the same old juggernaut. And the community is supposed to heal instead of bringing the uniformed criminals to justice.
City Manager Martin Bernal continues to stall on releasing Public Records documenting the surveillance devices placed, funded, and regularly used by city authorities with no local Snowden or Manning to raise the issue. Records demanded a year ago to investigate claims of race and class profiling and harassment are still tightly withheld by subordinates.
Next Saturday December 3rd, Community Control of Police advocates will be gathering at the Town Clock at 1:30 PM to demand the release of records and action to hold shooters accountable.
And harassment of RV dwellers sheltering themselves against blistering winter weather continues in the Coastal zone of the City and County. This in spite of the Coastal Commission’s August decision turning down “Squeeze ’em Out” Scott Collins’ RV ban. While the local Coastal Commission staff is “investigating” the County’s unlawful issuing of citations to those whose only shelter is their RV, the staff acknowledges it is actually working to do what it did with City officials–find a way to legally ban RV’s at night so as to drive the poor away.
Criminalizing the poor and covering over the crimes of those who get paid to who do so is still business-as-usual in Santa Cruz.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Report Documents the Criminalization of Homelessness
The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School has released a new report titled “Forced into Breaking the Law”: The Criminalization of Homelessness in Connecticut. The report examines how Connecticut’s homeless residents face the threat of criminal sanctions for simply existing. The report also documents how Connecticut city ordinances, such as those prohibiting loitering, panhandling, and sleeping in public, punish people for performing necessary, life-sustaining functions, which effectively criminalizes homelessness itself. It further outlines how the criminalization of homelessness violates state, federal, and international law.
The release of the report coincides with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and the launch of the national “Housing Not Handcuffs” campaign, organized by National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which aims to end the criminalization of homelessness.
“Laws criminalizing activities that people experiencing homelessness must engage in to survive constitute cruel and unusual punishment and restrict fundamental civil liberties, such as free speech and privacy rights,” said Hillary Vedvig ’17, a student author of the report. “These laws are also enforced arbitrarily and discriminatorily against people experiencing homelessness as well as against people of color, transgender people, and people with disabilities living on the street.”
The report also demonstrates the ways in which local ordinances that criminalize homelessness are unnecessary, counterproductive, costly, and out of line with Connecticut values. “Enforcing laws that ban people from asking for money or lingering in a park square through unaffordable citations, or even arrest, does not address the root problems of homelessness,” said Nate Fox of the Warburton Resource, Outreach and Collaboration Center at Center Church in Hartford, who collaborated with the Clinic on this report. “Instead citations and arrests only make it harder to get back on your feet.”
“This report sheds light on a system that, through small actions by many actors, puts Connecticut’s most vulnerable people in a detrimental cycle of policing, homelessness, and poverty,” added Scout Katovich ’17, another student author of the report.
The report documents the harms people experiencing homelessness suffer at the hands of the criminal justice system every day. People interviewed for the report described receiving citations for loitering while waiting on the corner for a shelter to open. Just for asking for a few dollars, individuals face $99 fines under anti-panhandling ordinances, according to the report. Initial contact with the criminal justice system often escalates and results in a downward spiral, students said. If people are too poor to pay their fine, they must contest the ticket in court. But those interviewed for the report faced high barriers to showing up on their court date. For instance, many people never received notice of their court dates because they did not have an address or lacked transportation to get to court. Failure to pay the fine or go to court can result in arrest and incarceration, making it even more difficult to obtain housing and employment. In this way, the criminalization of homelessness further entrenches a cycle of homelessness, poverty, and criminalization, the report argues.
Even when they are not fined or arrested, Connecticut’s homeless are constantly told to move, resulting in a pervasive sense of insecruity, students said. As Thomas, a man interviewed for the report who has experienced homelessness in New Britain, remarked: “When they make all your activities illegal, then there’s nowhere for you to go.”
“If Connecticut is serious about criminal justice reform and eradicating homelessness, it must stop criminalizing homelessness,” said Allison Frankel ’17, another student author. “The Lowenstein Clinic urges Connecticut cities to immediately stop enforcing laws that criminalize homelessness and encourages state and local officials to focus on policies that will put people experiencing homelessness into housing, not handcuffs.”
The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic is a legal clinic at Yale Law School that undertakes projects on behalf of human rights organizations and individual victims of human rights abuses.
HUFF will be hammering out its proposals for police reform at the Saturday 1:30 PM protest at the Town Clock 11-26. The meeting runs from 11 AM depending on when coffee and patience and participants run out.
Agenda items also likely to include: Freedom SleepOut #72 Lookback and Lookforward; Expectations from Incoming City Council members (Krohn and S. Brown); Interacting with the Growing Anti-Trump Protest; and more!
Date Tuesday November 22 Time 4:00 PM – 4:00 AM
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
DARK AGENDA IN A DARKENING ERA (from City Manager Martin Bernal and his underlings)
For hardnosed veterans interested in confronting a Trump-minded City Council, here are a few of the agenda items and their approximate time:
12:30 pm [Open Interval of the Closed Session] City Manager’s Performance Evaluation City Manager Martin Bernal is the most powerful and highly paid official in town; the anti-homeless policies supporting increased police harassment of protesters and homeless must have his approval.
2 pm [Afternoon Session]
#16 $217,000 for more rangers and more surveillance to deal with “crimes” like camping and loitering
#17 More Talk about the Housing Crisis: no Funding.
#18 More power to ticket vehicles for the parking enforcers.
#21 Prohibits growing any recreational marijuana in your fenced off yard even if not visible from the street
5 PM (approx) [Oral Communications] 2 minutes or less at the whim of Mayor Mathews: say what you want to the audience, those watching on tv, and the (shudder) City Council but act with others to create the changes Council refuses to look at.
7 pm [Evening Session] Move to shaft the pitiful remaining social services: redistribute the $1,000,000 Community Programs budget to new areas and thereby substantially reduce awards to programs or projects that support Early Childhood Education, Seniors and Homeless Services. Petition opposing this at 521.seiu.org/CommunityFunding
e-mail the Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Hearty (and not-so hardy) HUFFsters will brave drizzle and sunshine to ponder HUFFstuff. On the agenda in part: David Silva’s hunger fast and the “Rolling Fast”; County RV Ban Battle Continues; Struggling with the Sheriff’s Department to Get Its Citation Record Released as Required by Law; Surveillance Public Records of the City Police Again Delayed; Watsonville Homeless Connect–Worth Wandering South?; ACLU Agenda for Wednesday Night–Prospects?; Looking for Updates from Tenant Rights Struggle, Council Coronation Crapola on Tuesday 11-22, Aftermath of the Metro (Measure D) Fight, MHCAN, Laura’s Law at the Supes, and Cannabis Constriction at the Supes; Prep for the Saturday 1:30 PM Cop-Corner-at-the-Town-Clock rally, and Freedom SleepOut 71 Update…all this and the new Street Spirit too (!).
Time 4:00 PM Tuesday – 9:00 AM Wednesday
Location Details Bunking down on the sidewalk next to City Hall as things get chillier–weatherwise and otherwise. Center St. between Locust and Church.
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
RANGERS UNDER SCRUTINY
Rangers on the levee and deputies in the County are reportedly seizing homeless property and even destroying it in violation of state law and the federal Constitution. However at the Freedom Sleepouts, videoslinger Abbi Samuels and others are successfull fending off ranger raids. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?
At Freedom SleepOut #70 last week Freedom Sleepers wielding video and cell phones protected sleeping folks from a quartet of rangers. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?
RISING DEMAND FOR POLICE REFORM
Both the Sentinel and an Indybay photographer covered the second Cop Corner protest by a small band of HUFFsters and their allies demanding release of the SCPD audio and video of their still anonymous officer(s) killing the mentally disabled Sean Arlt last month. See http://www.santacruzsentinel.
A third protest demanding full disclosure and an end to abusive police practices will be held Saturday November 19 1:30 PM at the Town Clock.
Audio visits to the Freedom SleepOuts and street interviews are a regular feature of Bathrovbespierre’s Broadsides, Robert Norse’s twice-weekly Free Radio Santa Cruz [FRSC] show at freakradio.org. Past shows are archived at http://radiolibre.org/brb/
OUT OF TOWN UPDATES
The Oakland encampment struggle goes on. See http://www.thestreetspirit.
Berkeley updates can be found at https://www.facebook.com/
Meanwhile in San Francisco, courts are throwing out thousands of “quality-of-life” harassment tickets–while Santa Cruz resists even the most basic (“End the Sleeping Ban”) reforms. See http://www.sfchronicle.com/
Street Spirit, a homeless newspaper, is regularly available at the Sub Rosa Cafe and from those selling it around town.
To post or read comments, go to: https://www.indybay.org/
As usual, this series of updates is written by Robert Norse; Keith McHenry and other faithfuls do the sleeping out.
HUFF activists staged a small protest against ongoing police “closed door, closed windows’ policies around last month’s Sean Arlt slaying on the sidewalk outside the main police station at Laurel and Center streets Thursday afternoon (11-10). Also on the HUFF agenda: on-going harassment and citation of poor and homeless people outside, and general police refusal to respond to Public Records Act requests on issues of SCPD force, transparency, selective enforcement, and surveillance.
Two journalists came and wrote about the protest, also taking pictures.
A third protest is planned for November 19th at the Town Clock at 1:30 PM. We’re hoping to provide coffee and perhaps something to munch. Also on the agenda–a speak-out, petition drive, and possible march to confront police stonewalling and politician indifference
Santa Cruz protesters call for full disclosure in Sean Arlt shooting
SANTA CRUZ >> In a week that’s seen thousands of protesters descend on downtown Santa Cruz to protest the presidential election of Donald Trump, Thursday’s protest of the officer-involved shooting death of Sean Arlt seemed like an afterthought.
A handful of activists gathered at the corner of Laurel and Center streets and called for the release of information related to the Oct. 16 incident in which Arlt, a 32-year-old father who suffered from mental illness, was shot and killed by a Santa Cruz police officer after threatening four police officers with a 5-foot metal bow rake.
The demonstrators brandished signs that read “Ban Guns 4 Cops” and “Don’t shoot, I have an illness.” They also jogged into traffic to hand out fliers that read, “Enough Waiting! Turn Up the Heat! Who Killed Sean Arlt?”
“Why can’t the District Attorney’s Office release the name of the officer involved or the audio and video related to the shooting now? Why do they have to wait until the investigation is completed?” said organizer Robert Norse. “It gives the impression they’re concealing something.”
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel has explained that recorded evidence from the incident, in addition to the officer’s identification, will be released to the public by the District Attorney’s Office in less than three months.
Norse is the founder of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom, or HUFF. His organization has added the officer-involved shooting of Arlt onto its long list of grievances against the Santa Cruz Police Department.
“HUFF has had longstanding concerns about the SCPD’s relationship with the homeless and the poor,” Norse said. “We see Sean’s death as just another example of local police abuse.”
John and Patricia Colby identify as emotionally disabled and live in their van with two cats. The siblings said they were demonstrating Thursday to pressure the Santa Cruz police for full disclosure in the Arlt case.
The pair also have complaints about the Santa Cruz County Adult Mental Health Services, which they said provides poor treatment to the emotionally disabled.
“County Mental Health is quick to medicate people to make them easy to manage,” said John Colby, 52. “People are not willing to go to see them at Emeline for this reason.”
“They don’t listen,” said Patricia Colby, 55. “That’s why I get my medication overseen by a treating physician — because I don’t trust the county.”
HUFF meets from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. every Wednesday at Sub Rosa Cafe, 703 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. For more information, visit huffsantacruz.org.
HUFFsters battered and bruised by electoral hysteria will stare at each other and then press on at the usual mid-morning to early afternoon meeting. Up for discussion and prep are
- tomorrow’s Cop Corner protest on SCPD profiling, surveillance, and lack of accountability as well as their secrecy in withholding the audio and video of the Sean Arlt shooting.
- discussion of future actions opposing police/ranger/First Alarm sweeps of sleepers and sitters around the library
- winter shelter woes and the PR shell game being played
- updates on the Cooper trial and Andy C. expose of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center
- latest on public records about tenant complaints and city response
- Coastal Commission update on the County’s RV law