by Reggie Meisler (posted by Norse) (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com) Wed, Jan 11, 2023 7:07PM Reggie Meisler, civil liberties defender of unhoused rights, is waiting for an answer to his January 9th letter to Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker, Mayor Fred Keeley, Police Chief Rudy Escalante, and the S.C. City Council. Meisler calls for Huffaker to direct his SCPD to stop harassing and uprooting those whose vehicles are their shelter by misusing the “abandoned vehicle” tagging law. City Manager Huffaker, Chief Escalante, Mayor Keeley, and Councilmembers,
I want to bring to your attention an issue that is actively occurring, even during these extreme weather conditions, wherein unhoused folks living in vehicles are repeatedly being given “abandoned vehicle” green tags (See attached photos).
In many cases, folks are actually residing in their vehicle when the green tag is being given and have been parked in said location for less than an hour. I have been told about a couple instances wherein folks literally get out of their vehicle, mid-tag, and the police officer does not offer to rescind the green tag, claiming it was given because “someone called about your vehicle”. In many cases, when a green tag is given, the officer also draws aggressive messages on the vehicle owner’s tires, telling them to “move 1 mile”.
I understand how you could consider this to be some kind of compromise between giving into the bigoted demands of some of our most extreme anti-houseless community members, and what you may view as complete inaction on the issue of actually abandoned vehicles. I think that thought process would feel much more true to me if our officers at least investigated these “Karen calls” and erred more on the side of human survival and harm reduction.
Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. From my own investigation into this situation, we seem to be currently operating under a model of bigoted neighbors calling the police, and then police promptly showing up to harass our unhoused neighbors with inappropriate citations. This is a clear abuse of the law, unjustly harassing and targeting our unhoused residents; and possibly even just people with “ugly” vehicles. Given how these tags are being given out, the effort it would take to demonstrate to a court that this constitutes a lack of even-handed enforcement, would not be difficult. That’s why I’m reaching out to you, please save us the effort.
I would like to give you the opportunity to correct this behavior within the Santa Cruz Police Department before this situation escalates into some kind of legal action against the city.