SleepOut #33 Keeping An Eye on Authority Bullying of Homeless Sleepers in Santa Cruz

Title: The Sidewalk is Their Beat: Freedom SleepOut #33
START DATE: Tuesday February 23
TIME: 5:00 PM – 5:00 AM
Location Details:
Patrolling the grounds and sidewalks of City Hall in defense of the homeless, Freedom Sleepers maintain their night watch. They shine their weekly light on the nightly Sleeping Ban and Closed area laws which criminalize 1000-2000 homeless people in Santa Cruz. The event runs from 5 PM Tuesday to around 9 AM Wednesday.
Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Toby Nixon (posted by Norse)
Email Address tobynixon [at]
Phone Number 408 582 4152
Police have recently not cited Freedom Sleepers on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. They apparently prefer not to invite further federal and public scrutiny for the obvious human rights violation of denying the poor the right to sleep.

Homeless folks without tents or other protective clothing prefer to shelter in the eaves of buildings. They are unconstitutionally rousted when they sleep in the hallways at City Hall. They are exposed to wind and rain when sleeping on the sidewalk along with the Freedom Sleepers.

Consequently, far more homeless folks sleep in adjacent areas such as outside the library, the Civic Auditorium, and the Greek Orthodox Church–where they are confronted by First Alarm thugs and SCPD. Freedom Sleepers then respond to such abuses by protest and video–which is then posted on line.

Better nighttime video equipment is needed as are greater numbers.

Though today’s is the last city Council meeting in February, some more credulous activists are looking forward to the next Council conclave on March 8. At that meeting former Mayor Don Lane has promised to bring forward his Sleeping Ban “Reform” which removes “sleeping” from the definition of camping at night.

Activists “Lighthouse” Linda Lemaster, chair of the City’s former Homeless Issues Task Force, and “Bathrobespierre” Robert Norse have pointed out that the Lane proposal currently retains the “Blanket Ban” which keeps laying out of bedding after 11 PM a crime. So only sleeping without blankets is permitted?

Other Freedom Sleepers have pointed out that banning tents and protective “camping gear” lays the homeless open to rain and cold.

“Push Back” Pat Colby, a faithful Freedom Sleeper food provider and HUFF leader, goes further and points out that police are using other laws to drive homeless refugees out of town such as the “Closed at Night” law and “no trespass” statutes.

Retiring Parks and Recreation Department Czarina Dannettee Shoemaker has used the “Closed at Night” law to cite hundreds of homeless people in the last year with additional extra-judicial ‘Stay-Away” orders added at the whim of the citing officer. Chief Kevin Vogel’s police department has extensively used the “Closed at Night” law with its $198 fine against Freedom Sleepers for simply being at City Hall at night with their “Ban the Sleeping Ban” signs.

Those who wish to demand a new direction in Parks and Recreation more open to the entire community and particularly the low-income and homeless community can supposedly submit comments through March 4 by completing an on-line survey at .

Some HUFFsters have proposed daytime protest action outside the P & R office and/or shadowing P &R’s “homeless camp removal” squads with video.

Closed since late December, the previously 24-hour Soquel Ave. garage bathroom is reportedly on the chopping block for permanent nighttime closure. A thin staff report on the matter was published on the February 9th City Council agenda.

Public Works’ Records as to the specific “abuses” justifying shutting down the bathroom have not yet been made public, but it appears the primary cause for police calls has been folks using the bathroom as shelter. Given the fact that there’s less than 100 emergency shelter mats at the Armory and 1000-2000 homeless people, can you blame them?

Meanwhile the City continues to lock down its City Council bathrooms at night, even though security guards prowl the area. The traditional “poo and pee” homeless-a-phobic rhetoric has apparently been toned down, but the reality is that without facilities, people will do their business where they must.

The weathered Freedom Sleepers invite donations of blankets and food as well as personal visits, even for short periods of time for those disinclined to sleep out.

Folks can also get together afterwards to discuss the night’s events as well as the next steps at the Sub Rosa café Wednesday 11 AM at 703 Pacific Ave.



This posting was created by Robert Norse and is his sole responsibility.

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