Festival of the Streets to follow Freedom Sleep-Out #12

Title: Food Not Bombs Resumes Feeding at Freedom SleepOut #12
START DATE: Tuesday September 29
TIME: 5:00 PM – 5:00 AM
Location Details:
In and around Santa Cruz City Hall at 809 Center St. across from the Main Library and the Civic Auditorium. Partially at City Council itself, which meets in the afternoon and evening, partially in the Council Courtyard, and partially on the sidewalks surrounding City Hall and across Center and Church streets. Police typically drive peaceful protesters away from City Hall and last week forced them off the sidewalk for an unusual and hours-late-in-coming “sidewalk cleaning”.
Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Robert Norse
Email Address rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone Number 831-423-4833
Address 309 Cedar PMB 14B S.C. CA 95060
Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry will be serving food at the protest at different points during the night and morning.

On Wednesday morning at 8 AM, McHenry and Abbi Samuels will appear in court at 701 Ocean St. They face a harassment charge of “vandalism” in connection with “blue dots” that appeared on the Pacific Avenue sidewalk some weeks ago.   Outside the courthouse, FNB will encourage feeding and frolicking.

The “blue boxes” expanded the small spaces city reactionaries have designated as “performance pens” for downtown artists, vendors, speakers, and tablers.

The unauthorized dots were promptly sandblasted away by city bureaucrats and until recently there have been no legal spaces to perform, table, or vend. Both police and performers have largely ignored this peculiar “no boxes but illegal to perform without boxes” situation.

Recently the “blue dot boxes” have returned, but artists such as Alex Skelton and Joff Jones have insisted on their right to display and sell their artwork outside the few constricted spaces. Recently their citations for violating MC 5.43 were struck down by Commissioner Kim Baskett, for unclear reasons.

More background from Keith McHenry & others at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/08/30/18776861.php?show_comments=1#18776898 [“Defending Public Space – More on why driving artists off of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz is a crime”]

A description of how a Freedom Sleeper protest generally proceeds can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/09/20/18777872.php [“No Council Meet But Freedom Sleepers Gather for SleepOut #11”]

Some coverage of last Tuesday’s Freedom Sleep-Out: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/09/25/18778071.php [“Activists hold ground at city hall for 11th week in a row”]

Cops and rangers still enforce anti-sleeping laws in Santa Cruz such as the notorious MC 6.36 (which bans sleeping and covering up with blankets after 11 PM).

They harass, cite, arrest, and issue stay-away orders for homeless folks with no shelter seeking refuge in parks and other “closed areas” under MC 13.04.011 (which authorizes closing any public spaces without public hearing or comment).

The River St. Shelter now claims it will place those who call in (459-6644) to get on a Waiting List which will allow dismissal of Sleeping Ban tickets. Yet their records show no dismissals through July and August at the same time police issued hundreds of such citations. WE ENCOURAGE HOMELESS FOLKS AND THEIR FRIENDS TO CONTACT THE SHELTER AND GIVE THEIR NAMES BY PHONE.

We have also received reports of security guards turning away people trying to get in to sign the Waiting Lists at the River St. Shower. Showers at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center have recently reopened during mid-day for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but meals, bathrooms, and laundry for the general homeless population remain cut off since June.

Even before the recent shelter shutdown and “no emergency services” makeover, Santa Cruz had no shelter for 95% of its homeless residents, clients were being required to show ID, and confronted with a prison-like fenced-in area there.

City Council will hold its last Council meeting of September. Councilmembers Lane and Posner still decline to put anything on the agenda to counter the increased criminalization of the homeless here. Vancouver, WA has ended its nighttime Sleeping Ban. L.A. is proposing a “homeless emergency”. San Jose is discussing proposals for safe parking zones. But Santa Cruz liberals and right-wingers alike continue to ignore the nightly abuses.

Those who wish to speak to the community (via the tv when addressing City Council) will have an opportunity around 5 PM Tuesday during the so-called Oral Communications period. At the last Council meeting, Lane delayed this period more than 2 hours to accommodate a reactionary attack on RV’s.

I received a report today of a man’s bike, bedding, and backpack being sadistically and/or capriciously confiscated by police as “abandoned” when he said he was only away from it momentarily,and so advised the officer–to no avail.

Picketers greeted Mayor Don Lane at his recent appearance at the Rio Theater for a “compassion” event [See “Freedom Sleepers Press Conference ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/09/24/18778053.php] and found considerable sympathy among attendees. The actual press conference was postponed to ready more information for the media and the public.

The continued pressure at these weekly protests also provides a place for homeless people to sleep together in groups, documents how SCPD and First Alarm Security moves to repress protest as well as simple homeless survival behavior, and hopefully paves the way for future community, court, and federal government intervention.

Come on down and be a part of it!

Rabbi Phil Posner, the usual contact person for the Freedom Sleepers, is away on a social/religious journey and will be returning in November. The perspectives expressed in this story are mine.