Santa Cruz Sleepers Push Back Against City Crackdown Tuesday September 8th

Title: At City Council and Under the Stars, Challenge the Crackdown at Freedom SleepOut #9
START DATE: Tuesday September 08
TIME: 3:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Location Details:
In front of City Hall at 809 Center St. in what used to be public space in the broad City Hall Courtyard beginning in mid-afternoon Tuesday September 1st and lasting until 8 AM Wednesday morning September 2nd.

The center of the event is likely to be outside City Council during its meeting, and on the lawn and the bricks across the street from the Main Library thereafter. At 10 PM, participants will likely move to the sidewalk, since city bosses have declared the City Hall Courtyard a “closed area’ 10 PM to 6 AM to end peaceful protests they don’t like.

Event Type: Other
The following posting reflects my understanding of the proposed protest as well as recent events. –Robert Norse


Within half an hour of 3 PM probably: City Council to consider Item #15 City Manager Martin Bernal’s proposals to sabotage RV dwellers by attacking the right to park.

5 PM: Oral Communications where Freedom Sleepers will discuss the outcome of their earlier conference with the City Manager in hopes of halting City repression against protesters and homeless sleepers.

5:30 PM (more or less) Freedom Sleepers Press Conference to more fully flesh out specific concerns, strategies.

6 PM General Assembly: to discuss the likely situation at night and how to deal with police interactions and their aftermath.

(throughout the evening): food provided by Food Not Bombs, Cafe HUFF, and concerned community members.

10 PM Being in the City Hall Courtyard apparently becomes a cause for citation and/or arrest by the SCPD. Those wishing to avoid this are advised to move to the sidewalk in anticipation of stepped-up harassment.

11 PM Sleeping becomes illegal outside and in vehicles all around Santa Cruz. There is no emergency shelter for the overwhelming majority of the homeless including the elderly and disabled. They face $159 ‘SleepCrime’ citations.

6 AM Holding up a protest sign at City Hall or sitting on a bench there or lying on the grass again becomes “legal”

7:30 AM Campers breakfast.

8:30 AM Sleeping becomes legal on some public property in Santa Cruz for the City’s 1500-2000 homeless


City staff through Councilmember Micah Posner previously made vague complaints of “litter”, “feces” and “piss” and “harassing comments” at prior protests. Freedom Sleepers asked for specifics and that the Council bathrooms be opened at night. Neither was done. Instead Posner relayed an “assurance” from the SCPD that the protesters would be dealt with.

In the afternoon of Tuesday September 1st, police officials set up a “no parking” zone all around City Hall, making sidewalk sleepers more vulnerable to noise and harassment from passing vehicles. It also made loading and unloading more problematic (Keith McHenry got a ticket for parking briefly to unload literature and cooking tables).

Repeating a “sleep deprivation” strategy they had employed in 2010 to crush a similar protest against the Sleeping Ban, They also set up three loud generators powering 30 foot high intense klieg lights at City Hall such as those used on Pacific Avenue during the New Years and Halloween holidays for crowd control

Ironically, the “no parking” zones around the Sleep-Out ironically allowed protest signs and sleepers to be seen more clearly by supportive passersby. The bright lights also allowed easier clean-up.

Police followed up these preparations with four separate raids on homeless and housed folks trying to sleep through the night. Around 11:30 PM, they descended in force, and began citing many people in the “closed” City Courtyard area without providing them a chance to walk off the property. They ticketed those on access ways and those reading agendas.

Two were arrested and jailed for declining to sign the “park closed” tickets. They asked to be taken to a magistrate or magistrate’s clerk to challenge the whole business of claiming that being at City Hall at night awake with a protest sign sas a crime. Instead they were jailed and told at the jail they might not be allowed a hearing for 72 hours.

A second wave of ticketing half an hour later upped the ticketing tally to 15 or more. A third round an hour later saw police peering into people’s vehicles and opening car doors. A fourth round had them ticketing a man sleeping in one of the “forbidden” parking spaces in order to avoid blocking the sidewalk. Police previously insisted only half the narrow sidewalk could be used for sleeping.

In the last week activists reported police ticketing folks around town under the Sleeping Ban (no sleeping on public property after 11 PM). The actual number of such tickets remains to be counted, but activists made a Public Records Act request.

Not-In-My-Backyard bigots, intent on driving away the vehicularly housed homeless folks, persuaded Councilmember’s Richelle NIroyan’s Transportation and Public Works Commission to propose laws requiring permits for RV parking at night city-wide. Also part of the homeless harassment scheme is the elimination of all “oversized” parking spaces to further discourage RV parking. This will be coming up as a preliminary recommendation Tuesday afternoon.

An earlier Public Works move by Marlin Grandlund this spring to forbid parking on streets adjacent to the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center has also apparently moved forward behind the scenes.

As no law is specifically up for a vote, council will likely direct staff to write a law make criminals out of those who park vehicles in the city who use their homes as their only affordable housing. If so, the law may be up for vote on September 22nd.

Freedom Sleepers will be meeting with the City Manager prior to the protest in search of agreement to suspend ticketing of those sleeping outside with no legal shelter options or to make it the lowest priority. There may be a Press Conference on the outcome.


See “Freedom Sleepers Back To Bed Down at City Hall in 8th SleepOut ” at ,

Recent print accounts of the Freedom Sleepers in the September Street Spirit newspaper:

Several stories not yet on line at are available in the September issue of the Street Spirit in the Main Library, at the Sub Rosa Cafe, and from HUFF and FNB activists.