Caught in the Act–Ranger Harassment & Survival Gear Seizure as Freedom Sleepout 73 Looms


 Date Tuesday November 29
4:00 PM Tuesday November 29th9:00 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] homeless civil rights fighters will resume their weekly sleepout in front of City Hall from 4 PM Tuesday to 9 AM Wednesday at 809 Center St. on the sidewalk facing the library.
Event Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
keith [at]

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 ]

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 and “HUFFing and Puffing: A Warm Wind from Berkeley” at .

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 (2 hours and 54 minutes into the audio file).

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 . Past attempts to do the same using parking garages and lots have been crushed in Santa Cruz by the City Manager’s office and the SCPD using such unlikely excuses as “no sprinkler system in the garages” (there is now reportedly) and “lighting cannot guarantee security” (in the police station parking lot!)

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.

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 [].