Friday Apr 19th, 2013 11:39 AM
Zack, one of six people who, he says, slept at the post office steps area last night called in with a report a few minutes ago. They all received “camping” tickets for survival sleeping in a visible area. I call them the Visible Sleepers.He says some of the folks from the previous night left for the North, but they intend to continue their protest tonight and in the nights that follow.
COPS VIOLATING THE LAW?
He said several police arrived around 6 AM and did ask them if they had Homeless (Lack of) Service Center receipts, but ticketed them anyway with the Camping Ordinance MC 6.36. (subsection 6.36.010).
A key paragraph of 6.36.055(a), a key subsection of MC 6.36, reads
(a) A person shall not be in violation of this chapter [the Camping Ordinance] if, at the time of his or her citation for a violation of this chapter, either: the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity; or the person is currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz.”
The officers gave citations anyway in apparent violation of the law. They suggested the citations “might be dismissed in court.” Zack said the group explained they had nowhere to go, were told the shelters were full, were given a receipt by Christine Younger of the HLOSC so asserting (that is, they were put on the Waiting List), and had no legal place to sleep. Police then left, and they went back to sleep, Zack continued.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Some of the signs they were displaying read, according to Zack, “If every life has value, then why is our life illegal?”
“If safety is a priority in this community, why do we have to fight for a safe place to sleep?” “When you privatize public space, you silence the voice of the very community it was designed for.” “Any law against sleep is unjust.” And other signs as well. They can be viewed again tonight, presumably, when the protest is slated to resume.
Some locals suggested that to avoid tickets they could leave early in the morning, but Zack noted he told them that the point is we shouldn’t have to move since there is no legal place and we’re not doing anything illegal. First Alarm “security” thugs arrived after 8 AM and told them they’d have to lie outside their sleeping bags or be ticketed. Freedom initially declined, saying it was cold, but when another woman came up with a problem for First Alarm, she complied in order to facilitate First Alarm’s helping with that other problem.
DEFENDING FIRST ALARM THUGS
A police officer advised the group that First Alarm was “just doing their job; they are the middle men between business and the people.”
Zack concluded, “We’re not trying to incite any anger against us by the police. They spent a lot of time trying to justify what they were doing. They could have been out arresting violent criminals instead of explaining…cause we’re peaceful, and we need a place to sleep.”
Camping citations carry a potential fine of $100-200. As mentioned in a prior posting, interviews from last night’s Free Radio Santa Cruz show with Freedom, Andrew, and Cody are archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/
There will be a workshop tomorrow led by Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry around broader issues of homeless civil rights (the California Homeless Bill of Rights) and deeper issues of housing (foreclosures and occupying vacant buildings as Homes Not Jails does). At the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific Ave. as mentioned above and described at http://www.indybay.org/