Bullying the “Bums” in Santa Cruz: Officer Barnett a Harbinger of “Rough ’em Up” Robinson’s Regime? Here?

Be on the Lookout for “Bad News” Barnett: Bully in Light Blue on the Beat!
by Robert Norse
Sunday Jan 26th, 2014 5:39 AM

Reports of beyond-the-bellow-of-bigotry harassment are circulating about Officer Barnett, a new Community Services Officer, who is reportedly too eager by half by throw his weight around with tickets for sitting near a building, displaying jewelry and craftswork, and smoking downtown with costly citations being distributed with gruff generosity on Pacific Avenue.

Those displaying scarfs and jewelry are now being pointedly threatened with citations if they sell their crafts on Pacific Avenue for more than 5 calendar days in any fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). Leading the pack of homeless-hunting hounds is CSO Barnett, a weighty over-zealous uniformed thug who was reportedly on a lone-ranger expedition over the Xmas holidays to drive away the diminishing number of vendors with threats and then actual citations

It’s not clear which section Barnett is using as his club but MC 5.04.045c8 requires a $72.60 daily fee for “itinerant vendors, peddlers or jobbers”. Another section exempts veterans unable to perform manual labor “provided, that he shall have obtained, in advance, a written permit issued by a veterans’ service officer of the county of Santa Cruz, and a written permit from the city manager.” A vet’s parade to the City Manager’s office might be a good idea in the near future.

Kate reported to me last week that she paid $36 for a city business license for one month (not sure how this is consistent with the code section’s $72+ per day). An older activist reported that in the past the city manager’s office has been very reluctant to give out such licenses. So this may be a new move to “put a happy face” on the wheel of repression being cranked up under the Robinson Council.

Scarfweaver Kate Winslow reported being literally “harassed to tears” by Barnett and ultimately ticketed, one day before she was able to secure the city permit he was demanding (along with the state tax license). She acknowledged she was selling rather than offering for donation her hand-made scarfs (many created on the sidewalk). The City of Sparks vs. Whyte decision [http://beatzbattalion.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/rap-constitution-by-steven-c-white/ ] lists Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, Photography, Prints, Engraving, Stained Glass–and presumably literature–as protected items. That is, items for which a license can not be demanded. Scarfs and jewelry may or may not be protected, but traditionally Santa Cruz streets have been an area where artists and craftspeople have displayed and vended their work.

Santa Cruz police have not in the past respected alternate news vendors. See http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/099.1st%20Amendment%20Rights%20of%20Street%20Spirit%20Vendors%20Upheld=11-98.jpg , http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/102.1st%20Amendment%20Jailed%20in%20S.C.=12-98.pdf , and http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/103.1st%20Amendment%20Jailed%28cont.%29=12-98.pdf .

And street massage-worker Raven reported harassment for kneading-your-needs on the sidewalk after having been told it was fine some months back. (She has since moved indoors).

A nearby municipal code section bans having your dog with you while vending. Folks are reminded that “service animals” are authorized and protected under federal (and perhaps state) disability law. I encourage others to post research on this issue as well as recent experiences. The kind of verbal formulas needed to get your “support animal” into the library or other public buildings with the protection of disability law needs to be laid out explicitly for homeless folks. Or those jacketed as a “homeless public safety problem”–the new classification justifying gentrification and repression.

Barnett was part of a thug team that went after a woman with a dog and held her for 25 minutes because the dog snapped at a cop who approached the woman in an abrupt manner. The encounter too place around 2:30 in the afternoon near the Metro in the parking lot next to Tampico’s restaurant and was cooled off by the arrival of numerous supportive witnesses critically commenting on the behavior of three police officers (Barnett, Sgt. Le Moss, and a third) and two squad cars providing the usual “wise” use of taxpayer dollars for a “public safety” issue.

I haven’t been able to track down yet the cost of Kate’s citation (probably several hundred dollars including court costs), nor how soon it is likely to appear on the court calendar. My recommendation that she and others routine disqualify Commissioner Kim Basket and throw the matter to a regular judge (often not much better, but they are more used to requesting discovery hearings if one is interested in holding the cop’s feet to the fire).

Twp other street jewelers (David and Crystal) got the Barnett BumRush. They were first reduced to panhandling with a sign, then driven off the Avenue by Barnett’s bullying–according to their report. They may have left town.

Please post any reports of Barnett-sightings here–preferably with video–as his behavior in the flesh persuades far more effectively than any verbal description. Positive reports of a change in Barnett behavior are also welcome. Feel free to live verbal reports at 831-423-4833. This includes, of course, Barnett-like behavior by other armed blueshirts downtown.

COMMENTS CAN BE LEFT AT https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/01/26/18749771.php  or on the HUFF blog at http://huffsantacruz.org/wordpress/ .