Rain-Drenched and Dismissed by Mainstream Protest, Freedom Sleep #81 Won’t Quit

Date Tuesday January 24

Time 4:00 PM Tuesday9:00AM Wednesday
Location Details Expect light rain at City Hall where Freedom Sleepers will gather both under the eaves and later along the sidewalk after the likely midnight police raids driving them out to get drenched. Thousands of Women’s March protesters crowded the same area Sunday filled with righteous anti-Trump anger but visibly indifferent to City Council’s abuse of unhoused and unprotected women outside here. Denounce nationally. Ignore locally.
Event Type  Protest
Organizer/Author  Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email  keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone  575-770–3377ANOTHER CONTENT-FREE COUNCIL CLUCK-A-THON
The 2:30 PM City Council agenda ignores homeless and housing issues as well as abusive police practices, local income equality, and discriminatory law creation and enforcement. Will bathrooms adjacent to the area likely to be locked early, facilitating staff smears of homeless folks as dirty and uncivilized in their toilet behavior? A safe bet.

Will Parks and Recreation boss Mauro Garcia’s department rope off large areas around the building to “ensure order” inside as was frequently the case last year? Perhaps not. Will the Freedom Sleepers again form their own community of mutual support, share food, and resist police harassment? Most likely.
RECORDS STILL BEING WITHHELD
Cops withheld records documenting their enforcement of homeless-hostile laws criminalizing homeless survival behavior for over a year. On Monday, the City Clerk released arrest and citation records, but removed all mention of race of address. This editing makes it impossible to document the specific selective harassment and heavy impact leveled against the poor outside. In prior years, close examination of the records has shown hundreds of $200 tickets being given out for such “crimes” as being in a park after “closing” or sleeping after 11 PM outside or in a vehicle. REPORTS FROM ELSEWHERE
Local Santa Cruz RV activist Julie, whose facebook page Santa Cruz Fulltimers carries updated stories of RV struggles, has posted stories of crackdowns in other cities. Will activists there use Coastal Commission requirements to fight back as we have done with some success in Santa Cruz? Hope so.San Rafael City and County play ping pong with homeless vehicle dwellers: http://www.marinij.com/government-and-politics/20160905/san-rafael-vehicle-dwellers-fight-parking-ban

Santa Barbara bumbuster bureaucrats convene to remove poor-in-RV’s from town:

http://www.noozhawk.com/article/santa_barbara_oversized_vehicles_enforcement_rv_parking

STEPPED UP PROTESTS IN RAINY WEATHER
Last week Food Not Bombs soupstirrer Keith McHenry and weary copwatcher “Push Back” Pat Colby reported repeated “wake up and get out” rousts by rangers and cops at Freedom SleepOut #80.

Dreamcatcher, a long-time Freedom Sleeper, reported Monday night that police told him he could sleep anywhere but at City Hall if he’d abandon his protest. This, and more property confiscation, led him to announce his departure from the protest.


Lawrence “the Viper”, on the other hand, while also reporting police theft today, insisted he’d be back to pitch his tent at Freedom SleepOut #81. His signature tent, sleeping bag, and blankets are reportedly in lockup at police HQ, perhaps to test his stamina against driving rain and near-freezing temperatures.


71-year-old Sharee—who said she slept on cardboard last week, also reported being driven out from under the protective corridors of City hall last week.

WHISPERS OF MORE PROMIENT PROTEST ACTION
Though some are skeptical, others suggest the massive Trump-activated protests may swell the ranks of local anti-poverty activists. One activists has spoken of moving the Freedom Sleepers down to a more prominent post on Pacific Avenue. Others have suggested making use of the heated City Hall buildings, wastefully empty at night. “Vacant Buildings are the Crime”, noted one.

Meanwhile it’s still hot soup Tuesday night, police harassment Wednesday morning, comforting coffee at breakfast time—all under the friendly drizzle of irregular showers. Who could ask for anything more? Bring tarps, blankets, sleeping bags, video devices, and high spirits.

TOO FRAIL, SICK OR SLEEPY TO JOIN THE PROTEST? THERE ARE OTHER ALTERNATIVES.
For those not eager to trek to the edge of town to seek a 4 PM place in the 110 person Winter Shelter program, “Big Drum” Brent Adams has announced a one-night Warming Center at the Red Church on Tuesday night.

Sleep Protectors Gather for Freedom SleepOut #74

Sleep Protectors Gather for Freedom SleepOuit #74

Date Tuesday December 06 Time 4:00 PM Tuesday9:00 AM Wednesday

Location Details On the sidewalks near City Hall, barred from taking shelter under the eaves in the rain, protesters will spend the night outside, under tarps, perhaps with a tent or two, and in nearby vehicles.  For nearly a year and a half, a small community of housed and homeless have demanded an end to laws criminalizing survival sleeping and other life-sustaining activities. Watchers, well-wishers, blankets, and visitors welcome!

Event Type Protest

Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)

Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net

Phone 575-770–3377

SHELTER SHUFFLE FOR THE FEW; WIND, RAIN, AND TICKETS FOR THE MANY
As temperatures dive below 40 and winter approaches in earnest, city and county authorities are providing $360,000 worth of nightly shelter for 50-75 people at VFW Post No. 7263 at 2259 7th Ave. in Live Oak. The mini-program (considering there are 3000+ unsheltered in the County) will expand to 100-125 in January with the opening of the Salvation Army building downtown at 721 Laurel St. –unavailable during a cold December because it’s being used for “fund-raising” activities.The usual NIMBY (Not-in-My-Back-Yard) approach is evident. The pick-up site is several miles from the 7th Ave. shelter. Clients are banned from walking or driving to the shelter. In-take worker Steve Pleich notes folks will have to go through an initial questioning process (5-10 minutes), presumably to satisfy the Take Back Santa Cruz-minded folks as well as provide data for more grant-grabbing activity.

Old-timers remembered when you got sheltered if you showed up. Not any more.
Meals will be provided for the few that get into the program, but the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center (a “supporter” of the Winter Shelter program) has made no move to restore the open meals that were its historic responsibility abandoned in June of 2015.

Run by the Association of Faith Communities, the AFC bosses may not require users to be present every night or be kicked out of the program–which they do regularly at their year-round 20-person shelter program that moves from church to church. Boss Debbi Bates reportedly excluded several women from the smaller program because they took Tuesday nights out to join the Freedom Sleeper protests. Bates now heads the far more costly $360 grand Winter Shelter.

Read the Sentinel’s sunny shelter spin at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/20161205/editorial-dec-6-2016-providing-shelter-in-the-cold-holiday-season & http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20161129/new-santa-cruz-winter-shelter-site-opens-thursday?source=topstoriesrot

Also due to open at least for a night or two later this week is the Warming Center with downtown pick-up’s at Pearl Alley. Call 211 or (831) 234-9848 for more info.

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HUFF at the Sub Rosa at 11 AM Today

Agenda Suggestions for HUFF (bring your own!):  Freedom SleepOut #50 Report from the Sidewalk, June 24 10 AM Judge Trial of two Freedom Sleeper citations–using the fabled agenda/pathway/govt. center defenses (See”#50–Freedom Sleepers Keep the Faith ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/16/18787630.php );  Supporting the L.A. Activists Against the Proposed Vehicular Sleeping Ban; and whatever else goes with coffee!

Action Against Police Abuse in San Francisco; Slumber in Santa Cruz…and the Rest of the Rant on the “Vanish the Vendors: Law Coming up at City Council 5-24

SFPD:  Direct Action and the Police Murder of a Third Man Got the Resignation of Police Chief Greg Suhr; SCPD: Continuing Stonewalling on Public Records; Yet More Rant & Review Covering Last Council Meeting’s Passage of the “Vanish the Vendors” Law, Coming Up Again for a Final Reading shortly after 2:30 PM Tuesday May 24th in City Council Chambers. 

The show broadcasts at 101.3 FM and streams on the internet at freakradio.org at 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM (May 22).  It will archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb160522.mp3.

Cannabis Crackdown at the Supes Tuesday?, Artists Arrested on Pacific Ave., A Lawyer Dissects the Anti-Lodging Law–all on Free Radio today

Preliminary news of the arrest of “Art is Free” painter Alex and fellow painter Joff on Pacific Avenue Saturday afternoon.   Special C-4 Committee set up by the Board of Supervisors to propose marijuana cultivation restrictions.  Two members weigh in with a report on what will be coming up at the Tuesday April 19 meeting of the Board of Superisors:  Extended interviews with C-4 members Nick Bulach and Colin Disheron.  A lookback at Freedom Sleep-Out #40 and look forward to upcoming Tuesday Freedom Sleep-Out #41 on April 19.  Berkeley activist and attorney Osha Neuman will discuss PC 647e, the infamous “no lodging” law used by Santa Cruz authorities against protesters and homeless folks


The show broadcasts at 101.3 FM and streams on the internet at freakradio.org at 9:30 AM2:30 PM (April 17).  It will archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb160417.mp3.

HUFF Definitely Back at Sub Rosa Tomorrow (Wednesday December 2) 11 AM. Coffee guaranteed!!

 

HUFFsters:  No more trekking around to mingle with seclusive students sipping bourgeois beverages at the Pergolesi–at least this week!  Back at the usual Sub Rosa Cafe surrounded by lots of literature and agreeable reasonably priced (free) drinks.

Likely to find agenda discussion:  Next  week’s Shitty Council Final Vote (12-8) on the “Homeless RV’s Get Lost” law coming up for a final reading;  the latest update on the frost-bitten Freedom Sleepers movement and its next move; Berkeley Battle In Progress–a weeklong campout culminates in today’s City Council meeting up there; fighting back against police property seizures–schemes and strategies; plus lots of stuff that hasn’t made print yet…

Today (Dec 1) there will be a special 5:30 PM “New tactics, new energy?!” meeting to protect the rights of houseless people at the Supply Room of the Red Church.  Want more Freedom SleepOuts and like actions?  Join the meeting!    And come to Freedom Sleep-Out at City Hall tonight thereafter.

4:30 PM Speak-Out and Protest Against Sleeping Ban at Santa Cruz City Council 7-8

Title: Homeless Take ACLU Sleeping Ban Suspension Resolution to City Council
START DATE: Tuesday July 08
TIME: 4:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Location Details:
809 Center St. Santa Cruz City Hall Courtyard
Event Type: Meeting
Contact Name Robert Norse
Email Address rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone Number 831-423-4833
Address 309 Cedar St. #14B Santa Cruz 95060
Speak-Out Before and At Santa Cruz City Council Celebrating a Homeless Rights Victory at the local ACLU Board of Directors on June 30th.

Presentation of Petitions and Demands to City Council to Overturn the City’s Anti-Homeless Sleeping Ban.

We’ll meet to prepare a presentation at 4:30 with coffee and snacks outside City Council and then go in to speak at Oral Communications around 5 PM inside Council Chambers

LETTER TO MAYOR LYNN ROBINSON
I sent an earlier version of the folloowing letter to Mayor Robinson at the beginning of the week:

From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: lrobinson [at] cityofsantacruz.com
CC: jyork [at] santacruzsentinel.com; jpierce [at] santacruzweekly.com
Subject: ACLU Action Urging A Moratorium on the Sleeping and Camping Laws
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2014 14:55:39 -0700

Lynn:

On June 30th, the local ACLU passed the following resolution:

“Statement of Principle: The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union supports in principle a limited time moratorium on enforcement of camping ban laws and ordinances within the City and County of Santa Cruz on the grounds that such laws and ordinances selectively criminalize the homeless community.”

“While the chapter is mindful that such a moratorium raises practical problems within the community at large, we believe that the benefits of such an approach in terms of the opportunity for civic leaders, policy makers and stakeholders to reassess the efficacy of these laws and ordinances outweighs any temporary adverse impact.”

I, other HUFF activists, and homeless victims of the City’s Sleeping Ban will be coming to Oral Communications tomorrow to support this statement and ask that the Council take immediate action to implement it.

There is a clear lack of shelter space. There are the safety problems created by the criminalization of the homeless–more for the homeless themselves than for those who fear or blame them. Lawsuits in other jurisdictions have been successful in overturning anti-homeless laws.

I encourage you and your fellow Council members to act swiftly to restore basic civil and human rights to the homeless community here.

One of the most basic, of course, is to be able to sleep at night and to be secure in one’s property. If one is in danger of having it confiscated because sleeping is “illegal” after 11 PM, then one has no such security.

As a Free Radio Santa Cruz reporter, I will be audioing the meeting for broadcast. I assure you this will be done in a non-disruptive manner as has been the case without exception in the past.

I encourage you to respect the rights of the media, even those critical of your positions on various issues, to audibly make their own record of the meeting, as guaranteed by state law and the Constitution.

Robert Norse
(423-4833)

Earlier story on the historic homeless victory forcing an ACLU Bo to protect the homeless right to sleep in Santa Cruz: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/07/01/18758158.php

Earlier story on Mayor Robinson’s false arrest for “unattended audio recording at City Council” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/05/03/18755258.php .

Street Spirit story by Steve Pleich describing one version of his proposed moratorium on Sleeping Bans in Santa Cruz: http://www.thestreetspirit.org/santa-cruz-activists-call-for-moratorium-on-laws-that-criminalize-camping-and-sleeping/

Added to the calendar on Monday Jul 7th, 2014 10:46 PM

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by Robert Norse Monday Jul 7th, 2014 10:46 PM

 

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Palo Alto and L.A. Victory; Santa Cruz Struggle Still to Be Won

By William Safford
Picture 1

http://acjusticeproject.org/2014/07/06/sleepless-in-palo-alto-challenging-the-criminalization-of-being-homeless/#more-2779

On June 19, 2014, a federal court of appeals struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance which criminalized vehicle dwelling.  The court held that the law, which banned the use of a vehicle as “living quarters”, was unconstitutionally vague and subject to arbitrary, discriminatory enforcement.  This may seem like a Los Angeles problem, but to those immersed in Peninsula politics, it sounds eerily familiar.

Unconstitutional vagueness is a funny concept.  It sounds like a linguistic problem – tighten up the language and the law will be fine.  Yet, this decision recognizes that laws cannot be fundamentally unclear.  If you and I cannot tell what is illegal, and neither can the police, then how can enforcement ever be reasonable?  The answer, said the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is that it cannot.  If the police arbitrarily decide who to enforce against, then there is no equality of justice, and the law becomes reminiscent of “English feudal poor laws designed to prevent the physical movement and economic ascension of the lower class.”

Why is this a Palo Alto issue?  Because the Palo Alto vehicle habitation ordinance (VHO) is identical in every important way.  Both laws criminalize living in a car, but leave important questions wide open.  The Palo Alto law attempts to define “human habitation” as “the use of a vehicle for a dwelling place, including but not limited to, sleeping, eating or resting”, but if anything, this just makes things less clear.

In response to this ambiguity, many have asked me what conduct is prohibited by Palo Alto’s new ordinance.  The problem is, nobody knows.  If Grandma and Grandpa take a trip from Seattle down to San Diego, and they pass through Palo Alto, they are dwelling in their RV.  Are they violating the law?  If I grab a burger from a drive through, and consume it in my car, am I “dwelling” in my vehicle?

The answer is “yes” to both questions, but wait!  Are we really going to arrest Grandma and Grandpa, with the possibility of up to six months in jail, for driving through the City in a mobile home?  Of course not.  And therein lies the problem.  My clients, who have been driven out of house and home, are using their vehicles as a last place of refuge.  And they will be prosecuted.

As I read the court’s decision, I was struck by the similarities between the Los Angeles plaintiffs and my own clients.  Catastrophic medical problems or sudden income disruption are common causes of homelessness.  Yet, when the citizens of Palo Alto asked their Council for a solution, they did not call for a better safety net or more shelter beds, but instead for prosecution of the unhoused.

This is exactly what Los Angeles tried, and the federal court invalidated the law.  Palo Alto can expect the same result if it begins enforcement, because I can personally guarantee that the law will be challenged, and not only for vagueness.  The Council might even try to write a better version of the law, and eliminate ambiguity.  However, the law is unconstitutional on other grounds.  The courts have long recognized that laws criminalizing basic human necessities, such as eating and sleeping, are fundamentally unfair.  Since someone who owns no private property cannot be expected to sleep and eat in a private place, we cannot punish them for doing so in public.  The Los Angeles plaintiffs picked one potential challenge to their ordinance, but there are others.

In the end, though, this is not a legal problem, but a moral one.  If we continue to look for ways to end homelessness by outlawing it, then we will continue to punish people for being unhoused, instead of addressing the root causes of poverty.  These are not nameless, faceless vagrants, worthy of our contempt.  They are our neighbors, our fellow citizens, and my clients – and I will not allow them to be punished for their status or run out of town as undesirable.


William Safford is a criminal defense lawyer in Palo Alto and founder of Homeless Criminal Defense.  The full text of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles and other information can be found at http://www.HomelessCD.com.  Enforcement of the Palo Alto law has been temporarily suspended, but the City Attorney’s office has stated that it will be advising the Council of the meaning of Desertrain before the end of the year.
If you are unhoused, and you need help with a criminal charge or a ticket related to your status, visit www.HomelessCD.com and click on “Contact”.  It may not be possible to provide representation in every case, but if your case is accepted, representation will be pro bono (free of charge). Continue reading