Reports of Attacks on the Homeless in Santa Cruz

The following comment is part of a larger thread on Santa Cruz Indymedia at  which criticizes the tepid and vague response of establishment liberals and “progressives” to the attacks on needle exchange, homeless services, homeless people, the counterculture, and the right to use public spaces.

by Robert Norse

Tuesday Mar 26th, 2013 9:47 AM

Yesterday at the Red Church’s Monday evening meal, I did my usual interviewing of folks.

A number of neural reports (i.e. police haven’t been harassing as much as usual).

However a major report involves an incident at the City Parking Lot across from the Elm St. Mission and the Cafe Pergolesi last week when somewhewre between 6 and 10 squad cars reportedly corralled and ticketed a dozen or so people (I have the impression they were counterculture/traveller/homeless-looking or just perhaps economic underclass folks). And ticketed them to stop a hackeysack game some of them were playing. The charge: the old Parking Lot Panic law–MC 9.64.020 (“Trespass” on a public parking lot–the law that makes it illegal to be in a parking lot unless you’re walking directly through or parking or retrieving your vehicle). I received at least three independent angry reports on this.

Another report was of Sam-I-Am (both directly from him and from upset companions earlier) being assaulted by four men who seemed in the troll-busting mode because what they said was “I want your hat” (a humiliation ritual) and they refused to give it to them. He was assaulted with a skateboard, and hospitalized with a fractured spine–or so he said as he stood in line at the meal in some apparent pain (but without, he said, adequate pain medication from Dominican).

A third report was of a man (who wished to remain anonymous) flying a sign out at the Mission St. Safeway. First three youths spat on him as they drove by. Then a guy stopped. He went over thinking it was perhaps a food donation or somesuch. The guy reportedly ostentatiously got out of his car, took out his cell phone and loudly announce he was calling the police and reporting that the homeless man was kicking his car. He then demanded the homeless man leave (or “leave town”, not sure which) according to this report.

Two women lying on the beach during the day were told by a security guard that they had been there “too long” and “had to leave” by their report or he would “call the police”. Or so they said.

And then there was the incident I witnessed on Friday night right outside Andy’s Auto on Pacific: The daughter of Shalom Compst and Marilyn Dreampeace, a woman in her 40’s, walked across Pacific Avenue from the Metro bus side to near where I was standing. A police officer came up to her and demanded to know why she’d done that.

It is not illegal to cross Pacific Avenue anywhere between Laurel St. and the Town Clock unless (a) you are obstructing a vehicle, or (b) the police have set up a traffic-controlled intersection with a stoplight or traffic cop. Such has been my undertanding as a person who has weathered jaywalking tickets in the past.

He gave her a $100-200 jaywalking ticket anyway in spite of her pleas.

Had I known this was a jaywalking ticket as it was being written, I would have so announced it to each passerby and asked them to stop and wait as witnesses (though it was dark and around 8:30 at night). One can write this off to nubie officer ignorance or over-zealotry (I didn’t recognize the cop, whose name I was told was Clauer or something like that).

I also received a report from Billy Q that a recent Grant Street park public meeting had homeless people driven away by police last week. The TBSC website describes the homeless-free event favorably at /. This abusive exclusionary process replicates what happened at the Sharon Collins memorial last summer at San Lorenzo Park. And if the account is accurate, the SCPD or officers of same, are direct agents.

It could be I’m getting lifted by the hysteria of the times around these incidents, but they seem to be growing more serious and more numerous: vigilante, security guard, and police harassment and actual threats and assaults.

There’s a “Families First” march today from Harvey West to City Hall for 5 PM according to the TBSC website.[See ]. Since there’s no evening City Council meeting (only one at 3 PM and supposedly one at 5 PM for Oral Communication), it appears Families First–which I’m assuming is a TBSC-front group–is planning to ignore the politicians, who surf the waves of the moment, and mobilize homeless-haters, fearful-neighbors, frustrated workers, and gentrification gurus from all around the town to create an even more powerful lobbying group.

I’ll be at the 5 PM City Council Oral Communications (2 minutes and shut up)–which may be held significantly earlier since there doesn’t seem to be that much on the afternoon agenda. And then covering the TBSC (which I’ve taken to calling Take Over Santa Cruz) march for FRSC and to voice my own views.

Please post reports of any incidents you experience or witness. Video and audio are particularly helpful (sorry I don’t have much). I did play the Jaywalking incident on Free Radio on Sunday. It’s archived on the HUFF website if you search through the 3-24 show towards the end, but I’ll post its location more clearly on the descriptions section soon.

Include time, place, names and descriptions, dialogue overheard, step-by-step account, etc. if you have any of these details. The more specific the better.