End-of-the-Year Antics at City Council While Freedom SleepOut #75 Braves the Rain

 Date Tuesday December 13
4:00 PM Tuesday9 AM Wednesday
Location Details On the wet pavement in front of City Hall after chatting with City Council members across the street in their warm meet-and-feast foyer at the Civic Auditorium welcoming the new City Council members. Bring tents, blankets, and weather-resistant survival gear if you have it. Rain is predicted. 
Event Type
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone 575-770-3377

Freedom Sleepers are there to protest the City’s refusal to enter the 21st Century. Acknowledge the human right of all people, rich and poor, to sleep at night. Instead City Council will be leaving police, security guards, and rangers (led by Mayor Mathew’s son, John) to enforce harsh anti-homeless laws menacing homeless survival behavior throughout the winter.

City Council, which meets in early afternoon session today, will be honoring Lobo, the police dog. It will be voting hundreds of thousands of dollars for the SCPD’s body camera program. It’s a grim irony considering the murder of Sean Luke in defense of a sheriff’s police dog some weeks ago.

The Council is making no requirement that police video be made available to the public. Nor that police write their reports before consulting the video. Meanwhile, the City Adminstrator’s office has again delayed any release of Public Records regarding current public suveillance devices–their cost, location, and retention schedules. Such secrecy clouds claims of future transparency.

The SCPD also refuses to release citation records and other information concerning their current policies. Will they be any more likely to release future video demanded by the public? Sheriff Hart, who claims to be on board with Obama’s 20th Century Policing, refuses to release simple booking records–something already required by state law.

This funding of police body cameras is item #25 comes after a lengthy Consent Agenda which takes up most of the agenda. Unlike at the Board of Supervisors and in many other cities the public is not allowed to speak on any individual item separately unless they get the permission of a Council member. New Council members Brown and Krohn can alter this policy overnight– by simply requiring public comment on any item requested by a member of the public.

Oral Communications–for those who want to squeeze themselves into Mayor Mathews’ 2 minute strait jacket is supposed to be around 5 PM. This will be the only chance to actually speak on homeless matters–since none are on the agenda.

At 7 PM the Council reassembles to praise its outgoing and incoming members. When those speeches are done, the Council moves across the street to the Civic Auditorium to wine and dine.

Since this festive gathering will be happening as heavy rains fall, protesters, homeless folks, and their supporters might want to take their sleeping bags out of the rain to join the Council celebrants indoors and perhaps…stay awhile?

Perhaps apprehension of this possibility prompted Mayor “Two Minute” Mathews to take the unusual step of omitting the Civic Center post-coronation munch-and-mingle event from the Council’s agenda. In fact, state law requires her not only toadmit the public but to announce the gathering on the Council’s agenda in advance. This was done in past years.

Meanwhile, the Council has taken no action to end criminalization of the hundreds of those outside without shelter. Its Winter Shelter program, combined with AFC’s 20-person-per-night church program, can only take in 70-100 people a night (to expand to 125-140 on January 1st). In the City and County there are more than 3000; in the City at least 1000-1500. No move has been made to restore funding for open meals at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center or to rein in Ranger repression on Pacific Avenue, in the Parks, and on the Levee.

Homeless Out Loud, Occupy Denver, and other civil rights groups resisted the November homeless sweeps “authorized” by the 4-year old Camping Ban law as police seized tents and survival gear. See http://www.denverpost.com/2016/12/05/homeless-sweeps-denver-city-council-repeal-camping-ban/ .

In response to rising protest and plummeting temperatures, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock reluctantly announced that police will stop confiscating blankets and tents for the 3,700+ urban campers while maintaining the usual politician’s cover story that “safer” indoor shelter was available. https://denverhomelessoutloud.org/2016/12/10/mayor-hancock-orders-police-to-stop-taking-peoples-survival-gear-when-enforcing-the-camping-ban/ .

In Santa Rosa legislators voted to allow churches, granges, Moose lodges or any other group with property considered a “meeting facility” to offer a range of services to the homeless that wouldn’t normally be allowed under zoning rules for such properties.

These uses include allowing people to sleep in their cars overnight, camp in tents and take shelter indoors overnight, all under specific conditions. For example, indoor shelters need fire inspections. Campsites must be shielded from view by fencing and open fires are not allowed. The program guidelines also allow groups to offer property storage services, and for people to use portable bathrooms and bathrooms inside buildings. See http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6397711-181/churchs-proposed-homeless-encampment-stirs?artslide=0

In Flagler Beach, Florida, the homeless activist Wayne Perry confronted City Council with the demand he be allowed to sleep on public property since there were neither safe zones nor adequate shelter. When Perry began survival sleeping in Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve, paranoid NIMBY’s demanded the City take action–which they’ve done by designating a boat launch area as a homeless refuge. See http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20161209/flagler-beach-designates-homeless-refuge-at-county-park

Santa Cruz homeless activists have for years been demanding either a lifting of the camping ban and/or safe zones for camping and parking, though prescient homeless militant Linda “the Lark” Edwards denounced select, restricted, and supervised areas (such as the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, predicted they would become de facto homeless concentration camps.

Activists fighting police violence will continue their weekly demand for prosecution of the guilty cops and release of all audio and video around the killings of Arlt and Smith in recent weeks. Last week’s protest at the Town Clock retreated to the eaves of the post office in heavy rain. Activists invite homeless folks to join the protest to speak out against local police abuses against those outside. 1:30 PM, Town Clock. December 17th Saturday. More info at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/12/07/18794512.php .


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