HUFF Updates: Cruelty in the Rain in Santa Cruz; Fresno Activist on Free Radio Sunday 11 AM; Tips for Those Fighting Police/Ranger Property Seizures

Police and Ranger Raid on Santa Cruz Homeless In the Rain Reported
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] )
Friday Oct 14th, 2016 7:22 PM

Around 11 AM today, activist and car-dweller Jessica Nash reports that two vans of “Park Rangers” from Harvey West followed by 5 cars of SCPD in uniform pulled up on a dozen homeless people. They were sitting on the wall and under sheltering trees from the rain by the side of the sidewalk across from the Civic Auditorium today. The armed officers threatened to seize blankets, bikes, food, and belongings if the homeless didn’t move out into the bad weather.

According to a phone report from Ms. Nash, the police told homeless people “get your stuff and get out or we’re gonna bring a truck, load it up, and take it away.” The rangers–already in trucks– appeared ready to remove homeless survival gear. Some were there watching property for others. Everyone was threatened to force them to leave.

The police raid came upon homeless sharing food and sheltering themselves from the first winter storm. The threats to take their blankets, their bikes, their food, and their belongings frightened the homeless into silence.

This apparently was not enough. Ms. Nash reported that when she tried to help folks gather up their stuff, one cop began threatening her. “You’ve got a car? Well, get in it and leave. I can impound it right now–I’m so pissed off.”

Nash reported the dialogue continued: “Don’t make me inpound your car. You have expired tags. I’m sick of people not listening.” Nash, with her sheltering car at stake, said she was forced to leave.

The “deportation and removal” action reportedly took about an hour. She noted rangers were also armed with tasers and guns.

Ms. Nash has sought legal help to deal with disability discrimination at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] at 115 Coral St. She claims she was repeatedly being denied services because of bedbugs she claims came from the still vermin-ridden Paul Lee Loft. She spoke before City Council on Tuesday about the wretched conditions and left in tears. Officials promised no action, claiming it was a County matter. However the City provides over $100,000 a year to the HLOSC and the HLOSC Board usually includes a Council member.

There is currently no walk-in shelter in Santa Cruz. Waiting lists for the HLOSC are either full or require a “pathway to housing” (i.e. a monthly check). The City Hall sidewalk is the site of a weekly Sleep-Out there by the Freedom Sleepers, now going into their 67th week next Tuesday.

Nash noted Mayor Cynthia Mathews had not returned her calls. Mathews–running for reelection–voted to continue to make the act of sleeping outside after 11 PM a crime costing several hundred dollars in fines, for which hundreds of citations have been issued in the last few years. Even the token 100-space Winter Shelter Armory is not slated to be funded and opened this year (with the homeless population at 1000-2000)

Under Mathews, the City Hall bathrooms have frequently been locked during the day.  Two 2nd class homeless portapotties (located at Cedar and Locust, and Cedar and Lincoln) were recently set up supposedly to open at 10 PM at night.    All existing brick-and-mortar bathrooms with sinks have been closed during the day in spite of the need for community use at night.  Activists report that even these portapotties have not been open on occasions when homeless folks have tried to use them.

Mathews is running for Santa Cruz City Council for her 6th term on a business-as-usual slate, opposed by the New City Council slate of Schnaar, Glover, Brown, and Krohn.  Outspoken Sleeping Ban opponent Steve Pleich has withdrawn from the race and thrown his support to the New City Council slate.  HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom) has made no endorsements with none of the candidates other than Pleich presenting specific proposals to decriminalize homeless folks and deal with the upcoming winter shelter/police violence crisis.


Follow-Up on ACLU’s Forum on Houselessness–Mike Rhodes Phone Interview
Date Sunday October 16
Time 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Location Details
Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.3 FM, streams at

Call in after 11:30 AM at 831-427-3772. Leave comments off-air at 831-423-4833.

Archives at (an hour and a half into the audio file).

Activist and writer Mike Rhodes, author of Dispatches from the War Zone and principal speaker at the ACLU Forum, follows up on his talk with a discussion of his tour and current strategies for fighting attacks on the poor in Fresno and elsewhere.

Tips from a Successful Civil Rights Fighter

Activist and writer Mike Rhodes, author of Dispatches from the War Zone, initiated the successful $2.3 million lawsuit settlement penalizing Fresno police for destroying homeless survival gear and personal property.

He was in Santa Cruz last week and was approached by Marysville activists Raelyn Butcher and Brian Brown, facing similar police attacks there on October 17th.   Rhodes gave the following advice to them in an e-mail:

Here is what I suggest you do.

Start by labeling your property. I would suggest you and other homeless people get some paper, a pen and roll of duck tape.  On the paper, write something like this:  “This is the property of (your name goes here).  Do not destroy.  This property has value and I do not give you permission to take or destroy it.”  Attach the label/notice to your property with the duck tape or something else (like a safety pin).  Take a photo of the label/notice on your property.

When they (whichever government entity is involved in the demolition) come to take your property take photos of them doing it.  Get as close as you can and take as many photos and videos of the destruction as you can.  Do NOT interfere or try to stop them.  Do tell them (if possible) that this is your property and you do not give them permission to take or destroy it.  If possible, record (you can do this with a video camera) their response.

You are building a case that could go to court.  So, you do not want to be confrontational and certainly not violent.  I know this will be emotional for you and other homeless people to see your property destroyed, but you need to remain focused.  You should stand up firmly for your rights and make it clear that your property has value, you do not want it destroyed, and that you are unable to move it anywhere – because there is nowhere in Marysville that is safe and legal for you to go.

I would say that if you have something that is not replaceable that you should take that with you.  Put it in your backpack or something.  Because, they will probably proceed to destroy whatever is in the encampment.  The reality is that you can’t take everything you own with you on your back.  But, I would urge you to save anything that has great value to you.  It would be life threatening to leave your heart or diabeties medication (for example) in a tent.

One thought on “HUFF Updates: Cruelty in the Rain in Santa Cruz; Fresno Activist on Free Radio Sunday 11 AM; Tips for Those Fighting Police/Ranger Property Seizures

  1. I live in San Luis Obispo County and I sponsor a homeless man on one of my properties I provide him with water power and sewer and a small fifth wheel trailer what I’m doing is completely in violation of county code why is this illegal government should not be involved in taking care of the homeless it should be the responsibility of the citizens of this country how do we change these laws?

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