Government’s Reaction to COVID-19: Cops and Commands Not Common Sense Services

S.C. County Issues Shelter-in-Place with No Shelter or Facilities for Those Outside by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Mar 16th, 2020 8:22 PM
Several hours ago the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency followed up on actions by San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties declaring much public assembly a misdemeanor. Meanwhile acting City czar Martin Bernal has declined to provide portapotties, open bathrooms, provide vacant hotel and motel rooms, or declare an eviction moratorium for folks outside and hard-pressed renters inside.


EMERGENCY ORDER WITH NO PUBLIC INPUT OR HEARING
The March 16 six-page ordered by County Health Officer Gail Newel & Assistant County Counsel S. Kelley goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday March 17th.

It can be read in full at https://www.santacruzhealth.org/Portals/7/Pdfs/Coronavirus/Shelter in Place Order March 16 2020.pdf?

The order requiring people to “self-isolate” in their residences does “exempt” homeless people (Section 2). “Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this Section but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable.”


IN THE WAKE OF CITY NEGLIGENCE AND OBSTRUCTION
County, City, University, State, and Federal authorities have done nothing to expand concrete on-the-ground facilities (such as vacant buildings, unused motel and hotel rooms, even campground space). Nor have they provided the most basic sanitation services near the larger encampments, instead maintaining the closing of even some of the limited bathrooms available part-time (the Library, Louden Nelson, the city-funded Bookshop Santa Cruz’s bathroom).

Attempts by Food Not Bombs, the Depot Project, and others to secure permits to provide portapotties and hand washing stations have been actively obstructed by city authorities.


THE ORDER MAY THREATEN FOOD NOT BOMBS
The current Food Not Bombs/Union of the Homeless presence at the Town Clock is also implicitly threatened by various provisions of the “Emergency Declaration”.

For instance on p.4 under Section 10, subsection f, further subsection xiii, we read “…Food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided or at any other gathering spot.” which sounds like a perfect pretext to shut down Food Not Bombs food servings.


SUSPENSION OF THE CONSTITUTION?
On p. 2, Section 2 provides provides “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited except as expressly permitted in Section 10.”

Section 10 does not permit, for instance, public gatherings to petition the government for redress of grievances (say, the lack of bathroom facilities and decent shelter for the hundreds outside).


WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
I suppose if you show up with your chef’s hat and gloves as a food provider, you may be able to argue an exemption to the First Amendment suspension if the sheriffs or cops show up to escort you “home”.

I encourage members of the community to demand loudly and clearly for the protection of the broader community that such facilities and shelter be made available immediately as an option for those outside. This can be done on-line, by facebook, and through twitter, of course, and should be, but there’s no substitute for physical presence.  I personally have recent health problems at an age where I’m particularly vulnerable, so I’m struggling with my own responsibility and response.   At this time I’m trying to avoid contact to slow the virus spread and protect myself and those in my household. 

Apparently endless e-mails, notes, and Council meeting pleas have no impact on Bernal, Cummings, and the other worthies who sit on piles of money (and now emergency provisions).

It falls on the community to take peaceful but forceful Direct Action to protect the health not just of those outside, but of the entire community before it’s too late.
http://www.huffsantacruz.org.
COMMENTS AND UPDATES CAN BE MADE AT https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/03/16/18831598.php
OR TO ME DIRECTLY AT RNORSE3@HOTMAIL.COM .

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