Count for Freedom Sleeper Reaches 60 Nights Out

Date Tuesday August 30
Time
4:00 PM – 8:00 AM Wednesday

Location Details Occupying with sleeping bag, car, and tent, the sidewalk and curbsides next to Santa Cruz City Hall from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning around 8 AM

Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email
keith@foodnotbombs.net
Phone
575-770–3377

WEEK AFTER WEEK, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT

The 60th Tuesday night Freedom SleepOut continues a year-old weekly protest against the City’s attack on unhoused and poor people who sleep outside or in vehicles.

MC 6.36.010a continues to make the very act of sleeping after 11 PM a crime.

MC 6.36.055 does provide exemptions for those who sign up for the River St. Shelter Waiting List (call in at 459-6644, and then keep calling back every three days). There is no walk-in shelter currently available for the City’s 1000-2000 unhoused. There is no Winter Shelter at all on the radar. Homeless folks have to find their own community, safety, and sleeping spots where they can. On Tuesday nights, the Freedom Sleepers have apparently created a “safe” area.

Limited food and occasional coffee is available at different points during the afternoon, evening, and morning. Support human rights at home with your support and your presence!

MIXED MESSAGES AT THE LOUDEN NELSON CANDIDATE FORUM MONDAY NIGHT

An overflow crowd listened to nearly a dozen candidates give soundbyte answers to a flock of questions, some of which touched on (but none squarely focused on) criminalization of the homeless through the Camping Ban and other laws.

At the forum, the usual promises about “more affordable housing” and “safe (shelter) spaces” were tossed about. Drew Glover raised the issue of Deputy Chief Steve Clark, a notorious anti-homeless cop, and there was talk about a Review Board for Police–though none of the candidates have been active in Copwatch or other regular attempts to hold police accountable.

Some activists are suggesting the candidates come out squarely to support Campaign Zero–the Black Lives Matter proposals of a year ago demanding radical changes in policing: http://www.vox.com/2015/8/21/9188729/police-black-lives-matter-campaign-zero

HUFF [Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom] has repeatedly called for specific officer accountability and radical policy changes in the SCPD: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/01/05/18766435.php [“Poor People Matter!: Round Four at Cop Corner”]. We call for candidates to give clear positions on each of the demands at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/11/25/18764594.php .

The most outspoken advocate and sometime Freedom Sleeper Steve Pleich (rhymes with “h”) lost in a bid for endorsement by the 80+ “Burnt by Bernie” activists who caucused after the forum. They voted to support Drew Glover, Steve Schnaar, Chris Krohn, and Sandy Brown. Brown and Krohn are old-time politicos. Glover and Schnaar are more active but not specifically in civil rights activities. Pleich was the only regular Freedom Sleeper supporter–who regularly visits the Sleepers and provides photo coverage and commentary.

There was no criticism of local liberal groups like the NAACP, RCNV, SCCCCR, or the ACLU who have avoided demanding police accountability for specific brutal incidents. Candidate Schnaar did raise Officer Vasquez’s slamdown of Richard Hardy on April 22, 2013. See Schnaar’s story at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/02/18/18768736.php [“Police Injury of Homeless Man Still Unresolved”]. Brent Adams’ video of the incident is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tyj3yxwy-o .

Wes White, a “Flagpole Community” activist from Salinas, where nightly protest at City Hall has been continuous since mid-March, videoed the Santa Cruz forum. He announced there’d be a 6-Month anniversary weekend occupation in late September at the Salinas City Hall.

DENVER LAWSUIT…and in Santa Cruz?

A lawsuit was filed last week against the police theft of homeless gear, rights, and persons. Story at http://denver.cbslocal.com/2016/08/25/advocates-file-lawsuit-over-homeless-sweep/ .

Talk of a proposed long-delayed lawsuit in Santa Cruz, announced late last year and supposedly involving the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s Tristia Bauman, is again making the rounds with a local attorney supposedly taking an interest.

MALL CRACKDOWN ON STREET HANDICRAFT ARTISTS AND PAINTERS

James the Jeweler reports he’s gotten five tickets on Pacific Avenue in the last few weeks while trying to display his wrapped stones for sale. Several for not moving every hour, another for coming back to the same spot within 24 hours, and–most ominously–two for Commercial Vending where City Council and their police set themselves up as art critics, ruling that handicrafts, hand-made t-shirts, and other items are “not art”. MC 5.81.002, MC 5.81.006. These are the first citations I’ve heard for this “crime”.

Alex Skelton and Joff Jones go to trial 1:30 PM in Dept. 10 today Wednesday August 30th for being “outside the blue box” in their display of paintings. They don’t seem particularly enthusiastic for the public to attend, but I think censorship of art in public places is an important issue. See “City directed police shutdown of artists” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/07/10/18788862.php .

Meanwhile some homeless folks report portapotty and sink facility closures at Depot Park, San Lorenzo, and on Cedar and Lincoln.

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