As Anger at the SCPD Rises, Freedom Sleepers Bed Down for Sidewalk Sleepout #68

Date Tuesday October 25

Time 2:30 PM Today- 9 AM Tomorrow

Location Details On the sidewalk outside the last pre-election City Council meeting in the wake of the SCPD’s Sean Arlt slaying, housed and unhoused folks are gathering again. The continuing target: the City’s anti-homeless 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban as a shelterless police-heavy winter looms. The safe-but-not-legal-sidewalk slumber event begins on Tuesday afternoon and goes through Wednesday morning.

Event Type Protest

Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)

Email keith [at]

Phone 575-770–3377


While folks chow down, chatter, and prepare to bed down, the afternoon Santa Cruz City Council meeting has absolutely nothing on its agenda indicating any awareness of or concern for with the upcoming winter ordeal for unhoused folks.

And nothing on what some are calling the SCPD murder and cover-up of Sean Smith-Arlt Sunday before last when he was gunned down facing four police officers within 20 seconds for wielding a metal rake. Video and audio footage is still not being provided, nor the names of the killer(s).

Activists led by Abbi Samuels and Sherri Conable have called for a mass presence at 4 PM in front of City Hall to be followed by a public speak-out at 5 PM Oral Communications. Some have suggested that the real Speak-Out be outside when Mayor Mathews imposes her “two-minute” speaker limitation (within a total of half hour “allowed”). Repetitive staff presentations on agenda items may take up far more than half an hour.

Beyond who shot Arlt and where’s the video/audio, some activists have demanded restoration of a stronger Citizens Police Review Board process, the prior one dismantled by Mathews and others when they were on the Council in 2003. Unfortunately government run CPRB’s have been severely limited by the Officer’s “Bill of Rights” and the Copley court decision of 2006 shielding the militarized police departments of the state from public exposure. (See ).

This has led one activist to suggest that private agencies need to take the lead in any “independent investigations” of police brutality and murder. More broadly, will the militarization of the Santa Cruz police continue to be fueled by acceptance of state and federal grants? Will the City Council keep up its refusal to require police accountability? Its current token review subcommittee is the Public Safety Committee, and its overseer–the $40,000-a-year no-info-to-the-public attorney Bob Aaronson.

A listing of this year’s fatal police shootings nationwide can be found at . One activist has pointed out that police shootings nationally are usually 1 out of 17 of all fatal shootings. In Santa Cruz, it’s 1 out of 5 this year.

Meanwhile one homeless man reported his arm broken by SCPD in the midst of an arrest; another woman is going to court tomorrow to fight a year old “Resisting Arrest” charge; friends of a third fear she faces loss of her service dog as part of the “Homeless Mistreat Dogs” movement that seems to have become more overt in the past few months. More on this at the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting on Wednesday October 26 11 AM Sub Rosa Cafe).

Both the SCPD and the ACLU seem to have had little to say about surveillance devices funded by government money in Santa Cruz that look out and video record public places. A Public Records Act request for a listing of these places was initially met with the ridiculous claim that no such records exist. A second request was met with delay until mid-November–well after last night’s ACLU Surveillance Forum.

This forum, of course, reportedly had little mention of the current police surveillance–how extensive it was, how long the records are retained, whether the public has access to them. Nor has the local ACLU shown any concern about this issue (nor about homeless issues generally unless pushed to the wall by unhoused folks and activists).

Where are the SCPD audio and video tapes? What will folks do to demand their return?

How about a video-in at the police station with person after person walking up to request they be made public?
(A sign in the police lobby bans video or audio recording, something also posted in other city offices. But since there is no expectation of privacy in public places and since these so-called “public servants” are supposed to be accountable to the public, this is a complete (if often effective) bluff.

Will the public move beyond a ceremonial mourning session at the Town Clock on Sunday and a polite “stand-in-line-and-then-go-home” protest at City Council today at 5 PM?

What next public pressuring event is planned by those outraged by this latest killing (and the SCPD’s shoot-to-kill training and practice)? Or will the good liberals all trek home after a token showing today as they did when the BeatCat was slipped by the public?

HUFF will be grumbling about this issue over coffee tomorrow, as mentioned above.

This is the last Council meeting before the November 8th vote deadline when voters will decide whether to return Mayor Mathews and her slate of police apologists to office.

One thought on “As Anger at the SCPD Rises, Freedom Sleepers Bed Down for Sidewalk Sleepout #68

  1. Im young man from fairfield ca. I was houseless last year around this time when i decided to visit Santa Cruz. Within the two weeks i was there the harrasment by police and private security was unsettling. I was latter arrested for brandishing weapon when a “concerned citezen” made a false claim that i had a gun. A week later I was then assulted by officer Jeff Auldrige and his accomplice Jeffrey Brouillette. The brandishing charge was dropped i was convicted of resisting arrest and I am banned from Pacific Ave until next year. Their is definitely some sort of corruption going on in Santa Cruz or at least some of the worst trained officers in california are running rampant. I thank you for reading my comment and would like to offer any assistance i can to your organization.

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