The Salinas City Council’s September 20th meeting suddenly discovered an “emergency” from the orderly and peaceful protest encampment nightly outside City Hall.
The Council–over almost unanimous public opposition–made it a jailing crime to be there (or anywhere on public property) with survival sleeping gear even though facilities for the hundreds of homeless folks to sleep at night somewhere–anywhere–safely do not exist.
The outgoing Police Chief presented no evidence of ” illicit and unsanitary activity on downtown Salinas property, including drug sales and sex on the library’s front lawn” as claimed by City Attorney Callihan. He along with the City Manager and the Mayor apparently cooked up this unconstitutional measure behind closed doors with no input from service providers, civil liberties folks, or the homeless themselves.
This cruel and anonymous smear of a whole community of poor and disabled people shows the depths to which local bureaucrats and politicians will sink to keep the spotlight of protest away from them. The police chief presented one police report documenting only one complaint in the last six months. Only one Councilmember spoke out against this body blow to the survival community of homeless people.
The superfluous urination and defecation bans (already banned under state law) are particularly outrageous given the closed city bathrooms at night and lack of facilities generally around the City.
The smear is just another putrid cover for the quick and dirty dismissal of a whole class of people and the introduction of more threats and tools against the poor–even when they take care to provide for themselves the survival campground that the City refuses to set up (not to mention shelter or housing).