Older and Colder- Back for Election Night SleepOut #70



Date Tuesday November 08
Time 4:00 PM – 9:00 AM
Location Details
Weathering new attacks by First Alarm “security” thugs, out-of-the-park Rangers, and idle SCPD officers, the Freedom Sleepers will plant themselves on the sidewalk and nearby brick areas. The goal: to make homeless sleep after 11 PM is a right and not a crime. This in an increasingly homeless-aphobic town where there is shelter for only a handful of the 1000-2000 outside. Food Not Bombs and Joe Schultz will supply edibles and coffee. The event runs from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday mid-morning.
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone 575-770–3377
Note: This posting is the perspective of Robert Norse. Keith McHenry is point person and organizer for the Freedom SleepOut.

As the Council election race ends, none of the candidates still running seem to have been particularly strong or specific in demanding police accountability and legal changes. Or an end to the anti-homeless sweeps now rough and regular. Some find hope in the past writings of some of the “New City Council” slate of Glover, Schnaar, S. Brown, and Krohn. They may be”the lesser evil” to the “Queen of Mean” Mayor Mathews slate of J. Brown, Singleton, and Watkins.

Former homeless activist Chris Doyan, aka Commander X, has recently published a book which mentions his history as a Santa Cruz activist with PeaceCamp 2010. (“5th Deputy Assault on Peace Camp Fails to Drive Away Ailing But Determined Protesters” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/09/18655770.php . The 3-month long nightly protest at the courthouse and on the city hall sidewalk forced the City Attorney to create the “Waiting List exception” to Sleeping Ban prosecutions. See “Sleeping Ban at Council: Trade Your Constitutional Rights for a Place on Our Waiting List?” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/13/18658618.php .

More info on Doyan’s book at http://motherboard.vice.com/read/commander-x-homeless-hacker-turned-fugitive-just-published-the-definitive-book

Under angry scrutiny here as in so many other places are police violence, militarism, lack of accountability, and authority indifference. See “Keep Up the Pressure! Justice for Sean Arlt! ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/11/03/18793068.php

Protests resume on Thursday, November 10 1:30 PM at “Cop Corner” at Laurel and Center Streets, where HUFF activists will demand the release of the audio and video of the police shooting. As well as action to end long-standing abuses against the homeless (See “Mourn then Organize” at https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2016/11/01/updated_2015_flyer.pdf ).

Marysville Jungle Encampment faces destruction in the next week according to homeless “Mayor” Raelyn Butcher, who has posted some videos and commentary on the destruction of earlier camps at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDLpJvrHVtr0Z0HJdZ0ywVQ

And in Poulso, WA authorities tighten the noose around the homeless under the slogan “tough love” with new ordinances. The new misdemeanor law moves to avoid blatant unconstitutionality by proposing “take services or go to jail”–which is, of course, still unconstitutional. Some cities have been frightened nto suspending ticketing for sleeping because of no shelter or housing–but not Santa Cruz. This latest dodge to sweep away the visible poor with no legal place to go continues to ignore the inconvenient fact homeless people cannot constitutionally be denied the right to sleep. See http://realchangenews.org/2016/11/02/city-poulsbo-makes-homelessness-misdemeanor .

And in Berkeley, a violent eviction by the Berkeley PD has prompted a new expanded community protest outside Berkeley’s City Hall. See http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-11-04/article/45092?headline=Charged-to-Protect-and-Serve-BPD-Chose-Violence-for-Berkeley-s-Homeless–Debra-Avery-Communications-Director-Nanci-For-Berkeley .

Homeless people seem to be grouping together for protection at different spots on different nights, perhaps inspired by the Freedom Sleepers’ regular “no tickets on the sidewalk” zone in front of City Hall, perhaps simply increasingly angry and desperate as winter looms. Rough-em-up Rangers, First Alarm Security Thugs, and SCPD Blueshirt Bullies are now regularly driving unhoused folks away from the library claiming it is a “park” that is “closed at night”. Or simply writing them $198 citations they can’t pay. Rangers are compounding the abuse with unconstitutional “stay-away” orders that further threaten the health and safety of disabled folks outdoors. All this, of course, to drive away poor folks outside rather than deal with an economic and human rights crisis.

Sweet-voiced homeless singer Cooper, who sings nightly in front of the Palomar, reports an abusive “resisting arrest” trial last week covering up violence from Officer Albert in October 2015. The mock trial, according to Cooper and her husband, featured collusion by four judges, a public pretender, and the D.A. In a 4-day long jury trial, Cooper says, she was muzzled, video evidence denied, and key witnesses excluded. The “resisting arrest” charges against her were dragged out for a year to shield Officer Albert from a full airing of what Cooper described as his violent assault on her around Halloween time last year. This seems yet another chapter of the cruel-and-usual punishment poor people suffer who refuse to accept police whitewashing plea deals. Cooper gets sentenced this week.

Angry inside sources suggest the proposed “100 mat” winter shelter program is an unstable and inadequate patchwork without adequate staffing, preparation, or service provider input. In spite of the $360,000 cost, the token shelter program, is providing PR puffery rather than a well-organized program to replace the Winter Armory. The Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] at Coral Street declined to run it this year–as well as refusing to restore the meals stolen from the homeless in the summer of 2015.

A recent attempt to drop off blankets at the HLOSC was rejected by guards at the locked gate, reportedly telling the good samaritan to “come back Thursday“. Homeless locals rushed up to the donor and directed her to the Freedom Sleepers.

Folks interested in more information should drop by the Freedom Sleepers, or check out the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting Wednesday 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe (703 Pacific).

Freedom Sleepers encourage donations of tents, warm clothing, food, tarps, sleeping bags, and blankets to the weekly Tuesday night protest or to Food Not Bombs–which serves regularly Saturdays and Sundays 4-6 PM outside the main post office in Santa Cruz.