Freedom SleepOut Enters Its 80th Week Challenging Trumpist Sleeping Ban Locally

Location Details Alongside City Hall across from the Main Library on Center St. In Vehicles, sleeping bags, and under tarps and tents. The protest runs from Tuesday afternoon to mid-morning Wednesday. Bring plenty of warm gear to use and to share. Hot soup and morning coffee are usually available.
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone
575-770–3377

With numbers somewhat diminished from 3 AM police roust-em-into-the-rain raids, the occasionally-open Warming Center, and the walk-to-the-outskirts-of-town-to-get-sheltered-downtown Winter Shelter program, Freedom Sleepers continue their year and a half Tuesday night vigil.

PROTESTS AGAINST TRUMP
There are protests aplenty planned for the Trump Coronation coming up this weekend (elsewhere on this website). Missing however is any focus on halting repressive policies being pushed by both DemoRats and RepubliCons. These polices most obviously include continued warmongering, wealth privilege, police power, extensive deportations, and–most especially–attacks on the poor outside. In Santa Cruz neither Democrats, Republicans, or Greens in office have moved to stop criminalization of the homeless or acted to secure their most basic survival rights.

UPCOMING
Between 4 PM and 5 PM Thursday January 19, Freedom Sleeper Pat Colby will be joining the 19th Annual Homelessness Marathon–which will stream on Free Radio Santa Cruz at http://www.freakradio.org or directly from their home website at http://news.homelessnessmarathon.org/2011/01/for-stations.html . More info at http://news.homelessnessmarathon.org/ . The entire broadcast runs from 4 PM to 8 PM.

Tenant activists are planning a free meal and story-swaping session where you can ” meet other renters and learn about rights you have under state, county, and city law. Plus presentations on successful renter protection actions. Sunday at 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM at 517B Mission Street. No landlords or property managers invited!

ELSEWHERE
First They Came for the Homeless Encampment in Berkeley In 16th Move: Interview with activists Mike Lee and Sara Menefee at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb170115.mp3 (1 hour and 14 minutes into the audio file)

A new vigil at SF City Hall and a 24-Hour vigil for the recently-dead Homeless by Homeless and Activists rather than the Traditional Annual Mourn-Today-and-Watch-’em-Die-Tomorrow Remembrance: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/01/15/18795366.php

In Salinas the Monterey County Union of the Homeless huddled for its 1st Anniversary Strategy Session yesterday. See http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2017/01/16/homeless-advocates-invoke-mlk-spirit/96646004/

In Sacramento, city bosses respond to pressure from media and activists to open winter refuge from the storms: See https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/storm-of-shame-social-media/content?oid=23337757

Sign the Petition to Stop Raids on Berkeley’s First They Came for the Homeless Encampment

NOTE FROM NORSE:  The attacks on the 3 month old First They Came for the Homeless Encampment in Berkeley and “get out of town” harassment and exclusion practices of Berkeley police and so-called
social services must end.   Santa Cruz cops and their Ranger friends do the same here towards our weekly Freedom Sleepers and the broader unhoused community with our “new” City Council silent as near-freezing temperatures and cold rains assault folks, stripped of their survival gear and forced to move from the shelter of the edges of buildings.
I’m no fan of “Move On” e-mails generally, but First They Came for the Homeless (go to https://www.facebook.com/firsttheycameforthehomeless/ ) has asked that there be a flood of e-mails, and this is one way to do it.  Nor am I necessarily in agreement with every decision made by that group, but it’s clear that the regular and toxic attacks on the poor outside can only be stopped by community pressure.   What I call “local Trumpism”–which has long been the policy both in Berkeley and Santa Cruz has to be fought with local pushback.
First they came for the homeless. 3,164 likes · 148 talking about this. Action campaign for human rights.

 

Subject: City of Berkeley: Stop Raids on the Homeless
Hi,
I signed a petition to Berkeley City Council and Dee Williams-Ridley, City Manager titled “City of Berkeley: Stop Raids on the Homeless”.
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
Thanks!

Freedom SleepOut #79 Swims Toward Justice Tuesday Night

Date Tuesday January 10- Wednesday January 11
Time
4:00 PM Tuesday -  9 AM Wednesday
Location Details Under the eaves of City Hall until driven away by “peace officers” and “park protection rangers” and then on the wet sidewalks outside City Hall. Bring cardboard, canvas, protective gear, video, and friends. The protest runs from 4 PM today to mid-morning Wednesday.
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)

ANOTHER NIGHT OF ENDURANCE
In wretched cold wet weather, the Freedom Sleepers continue the vigil that was begun 78 weeks before outside the offices of the City Council members who have the power to end the Sleeping Ban, permit protective encampments, open up vacant buildings for shelter, and actually protect the homeless population instead of criminalizing them.

City Council however, has nothing on its agenda for its first meeting of the year–in the shortest meeting scheduled in memory. Ironically one of the only two regular proposals is a Sanctuary proposal for undocumented workers. Meanwhile, police active persecute and harass the city’s own displaced poor.

KROHN’S OPTIONS
Councilmember Krohn will be meeting with the public 9 AM today at the Cafe Pergolesi at Cedar and Elm Streets this morning before the vigil. He has the power to request police reports on the amount of ticketing and harassment done throughout the winter and in the last year (records still withheld by the police department). He can pressure the opening of bathrooms at night by demanding detailed reports on the actual needs of a homeless population of 1000-2000.

He can openly demand documentation of the amount of homeless property taken by police and rangers and insist that such seizures of survival gear stop (as the Denver mayor has finally done). There are many such demands of staff that do not require a Council vote (which he’s not likely to get).

THE SCPD’S THROW-THEM-OUT-IN-THE-RAIN POLICY
At the last Freedom Sleepout in freezing rains, homeless advocate Dreamcatcher reported that police drove homeless sleepers out from under the protective eaves of City Hall into the rain and cold with no alternative places to go. The private Warming Center program and the 110-capacity Winter Shelter program have no shelter for more than 90% of the city’s homeless population. Police have reportedly made it a point in the particularly cruel weather to station vehicles outside public buildings to make sure the poor don’t dare to huddle under the overhangs for protection.

TENANTS ORGANIZING
The SC Tenant Organizing Committee plans a Tenants’ Community Meal on January 22nd! See https://www.facebook.com/events/404150676591692/ or call (831)-471-7842 for more info.
A broader union with tenants facing imminent homelessness could be a strong force for change.   Late afternoon organizing and door-knocking is planned for 1-10 @ 5pm, 1-12 @ 5:30pm, 1-15 @ 4pm, and 1-16 @ 5pm.

STANDING UP FOR JUSTICE
Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs responding to half a dozen arrests over the weekend of food servers in Tampa, Florida, will be joining in a solidarity feeding and protest 4 PM Saturday January 14th outside the Main Post Office.

RISING UP TOGETHER
Salinas Union of the Homeless will have its 2nd annual celebration at 22 Soledad St. 10 AM – 1 PM at the CSUMB Learning Center on Monday, January 16, 2017, Martin Luther King Day. Contact HUFF at 423-4833 for more information, or come to the Wednesday January 11th HUFF meeting at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe.

DOWNTOWN STRUGGLE CONTINUES
Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, activist artists Joff Jones and Alex Skelton have blown the whistle on selective police enforcement against street artists, activists, and performers. See “Selective Enforcement documented on Pacific Ave” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/01/08/18795200.php .

Come prepared for wet weather and icy reception from uniformed thugs armed with the power of law and the force to lethally enforce it. Hot soup will likely be available.

New Year’s Nightwatch: Freedom SleepOut #78 at City Hall

Date Tuesday January 03
Time
4:00 PM Tuesday to 9 AM Wednesday
Location Details On the frosty sidewalk outside City Hall at 809 Center St. across from the Main Library. A Tuesday night sleepout in probable rain (bring tents or protective gear either for yourself or for others). The event lasts from late afternoon Tuesday to mid-morning Wednesday.
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)

As a “New Year” dawns, it’s the same ole Sleeping Ban bullshit with those resisting the ban gathering together in community protest outside the taxpayer funded hunting lodge of the politicians and staff who run Sleepsnatcher Central. Last week’s Freedom SleepOut was sparce, but also apparently ignored by armed uniformed Sleepbusters. With nervous bureaucrats back in their offices, more raids are likely.

CITY SLEEPSTEALERS ARE BACK ON THE JOB
City offices reopen today in case folks wish to register their concerns officially about the City staff’s waste of time, money, and conscience on harassing, ticketing, and arresting homeless people for homeless status crimes. These include sleeping after 11 PM outside or in a vehicle, protecting oneself against the cold and wet with a tent, being in a park after dark, urinating behind a bush when bathrooms have been intentionally locked, etc.

The “new” City Council members and the old ones have open offices where they are allegedly accessible to the public for those who wish to suggest they fulfill their responsibilities.

ANNUAL HOMELESSNESS MARATHON IN MID-JANUARY
A scaled down national Homelessness Marathon begins on the Thursday January 19th from 4-8 PM on Free Radio Santa Cruz. Folks will be encouraged to respond to the Trump inauguration happening the next day. The show will take broadcast from WMPG in Portland, Maine.
For more info go to http://news.homelessnessmarathon.org/

LIBRARY’S THURSDAY OUTDOOR KOFFEE KLATCH
Sentinel has noted a weekly Koffee Klatch happening outside the library every Thursday morning. Librarian Maile McGrew-Fredé had organized a Coffee Hour/Working Together program that provided (for one hour) a tent against the rain. 10-11 AM. The rest of the time, you’re on your own–if you can avoid the patrols. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20161231/seeking-solutions-santa-cruz-library-system-tackling-homelessness-access-issues

The library’s new “Working Together” program also claims to “work with an information advocate on any information problem, access issue or obstacle of your choice. A library staff member or community volunteer will work with you, using a laptop computer and access to a phone, one-on-one for up to one hour, to help you overcome hurdles to housing, safety, education, health, income or well being.” You may have to do a “same day sign-up during Coffee Hour in front of the Downtown branch library at the corner Church St. & Center St. If anyone has successfully used this “program”, please contact HUFF at 423-4833 with the good news. More “info” at http://www.santacruzpl.org/calendar/ .

LIBRARY HAS BECOME ANTI-HOMELESS IN LAST FEW YEARS
Councilmembers Mathews and Terrazas voted some years ago to pass repressive rules in the Main Library regarding such Santa Cruz-special crimes as “sleeping” which have become cause for eviction and stay-away. Uniformed First Alarm “security” thugs have patrolled the premises (as well as regularly harassed Freedom Sleepers and others seeking shelter from the rain under the eaves of the public buildings). Mathews and Terrazas can be reached by phone at 420-5020. Their e-mails are cmathews [at] cityofsantacruz.com and dterrazas [at] cityofsantacruz.com .

Parks and Rec Dept boss Mauro Garcia continues to send out Rangers armed with ticket books and stay away orders to drive away homeless people sleeping at night in the forbidden zones outside the library as well as overseeing destruction of the grassy areas at City Hall. Let him know, it’s time to restore these spaces to the public–housed and homeless: mgarcia @cityofsantacruz.com phone: 420-5270

Some homeless folks report harassment and exclusion from the library by the roaming First Alarmists; others suggest that the pressure has tapered off. Contact Food Not Bombs at the Saturday and Sunday meals at the Main Post office 4-6 PM with real news.

SHELTER FOR THE FEW
The Association of Faith Communities $300,000 shelter program is “expanding” to 110 with a second shelter at the Salvation Army. Rumors are they may be moving their intake area from the less-accessible past-the-Tannery location to the Salvation Army itself. The program, along with the occasionally-open Warming Center accommodates around 5% of the County’s homeless population. Meanwhile there continues to effectively be no emergency shelter at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center at Coral St. as well as no meals for those with no “pathway to housing”.

BERKELEY BROADSIDE FROM “FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE HOMELESS”
The “Poor Tour”–an ever resurgent encampment/community in Berkeley has weathered its 13 bust-and-move in the dead of winter. It’s now located in the “Gourmet Grotto” of Berkeley at the far end of Shattuck Ave. Details at their facebook page and at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/01/02/18795056.php?show_comments=1#18795057 .

VIDEO THE MARAUDING MEANIES
With a week of rain predicted in the days ahead, folks with video capability on their phones or other devices should pause to protest, witness, record, and post any instances of uniformed thugs driving homeless people out into the rain. The only protection for the community’s civil rights is action by the community.

Freedom SleepOut #77: Sanctuary for the Local Homeless?

Date Tuesday December 27
Time
4:00 PM Tuesday - 9 AM Wednesday
Location Details At the edges of City Hall downtown along Center Street mostly between Locust and Church
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone 575-770–3377

LIBERALS ORGANIZE AGAINST ANTI-IMMIGRANT ATTACKS, IGNORE HATE AGAINST HOMELESS
While “mainstream activists” in the City and County gear up to resist Trump’s “deport the undocumented” (building on Obama’s record of 2 million+ deported during his two years), our own local refugees (perhaps you’ve heard of them–the homeless folks?) are demanding respect for their rights, health, and safety from marauding police, rangers, and security thugs in Freedom SleepOut #77. These displaced urban residents will be out on the sidewalk Tuesday night at the height of winter while those denouncing Trump (but implicitly supporting local Trumpism against the homeless) are away on vacation or snug at home in their beds.

The resistance meeting to defend the non-homeless undocumented locals happened last week (See “Santa Cruz Sanctuary Assembly” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/12/21/18794892.php?show_comments=1#18794944). So far none of these militant liberals have shown up on the sidewalk in front of City Hall at night.

WILL LAST WEEK’S PRE-DAWN RAIDS BE REPEATED?
Last week at SleepOut #76, activists John and Pat Colby reported heavy police harassment and ticketing shortly before 6 AM in the morning followed by ranger threats to seize “unattended gear” a few hours later with the intent of driving away those resting near City Hall. Homeless residents Lawrence, Sonny, and Eagle confirmed the raids. Monterey Max was also reportedly handcuffed but then released with a $200 “trespass” citation.

THE CHRISTMASTIME SHOW OF CARING MUST GO ON!
Meanwhile the community gives itself an annual pat on the back for the twice-a-year charity feeds for the festive Xmas season [See http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/lifestyle/20161225/santa-cruz-county-volunteers-share-their-bounty-on-christmas-day]

And, of course, there is the ritual annual commemoration the homeless dead [See http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20161220/annual-homeless-memorial-highlights-continued-need-in-santa-cruz-county] behind the locked gates of the grant-magnet Homeless (Lack of) Services Center.

GOOD NEWS
Julie Shaul of RV Fulltimers [https://www.facebook.com/groups/santacruzfulltimers/] reports she has received no reports of RV ticketing in the North County since the local Coastal Commission staff sent a letter to County staff in October.

That letter advised Sheriff Hart that the nighttime RV ban required clearance through the Coastal Commission, which had not even been notified back in March when the law was passed. Neither the Sheriff, the County Counsel, or the courts have offered to provide restitution to folks in RV’s who were unlawfully cited. The Sheriff also refused to release their names.

Earlier the local Coastal Commission staff unsuccessfully rubberstamped the City’s RV ban–a rubberstamp that was reversed by the full Coastal Commission in August on appeal from a constituent (Norse). Both the City and County bans are currently in limbo but not dead. It appears the CC staff may be huddling with the City and County staff to cook up new language to ban RV’s in the dead of night by limiting the hours of the ban.

FIGHTING BACK
Report harassment citations and actions to Norse of HUFF at rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com. Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom will be meeting 11 AM Wednesday December 28th at the Sub Rosa Cafe. HUFF and Liberation News plan a Saturday protest demanding justice for the killings of Sean Arlt and Luke Smith on Saturday 1:30 PM at the Town Clock.

COUNCILMEMBER ON THE FREE RADIO STREAM THURSDAY
City Councilmember and Former Mayor Chris Krohn will be on Free Radio Santa Cruz sometime between 6 and 8 PM on Thursday December 29th. The show will stream at freakradio.org and archive at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb161229.mp3 . Krohn spoke out against the Sleeping Ban in his “coronation” speech on December 13th, but has not been involved in any direct actions or resistance in the past. Freedom Sleepers invite him to pull up a sleeping bag and a blanket to join the cold but unbowed veterans on the sidewalk.

76th Freedom Sleeper Protest is also Day of the Homeless Dead Memorial

Date Tuesday December 20

Time 4 PM9 AM Wednesday
Location Details Huddling with blankets on the sidewalk next to City Hall across from the Main Library. The protest will also take place under the eaves of City Hall–until driven away by security thugs and SCPD “law enforcement” officers forcefully dispersing peaceful protesters and denying them protective shelter while providing no options–in violation of the 8th Amendment. This in near-freezing temperatures near empty “public” buildings. This happens in an area designated as a “public park” (yet “closed to the public” at night).
Event Type
Class/Workshop
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (entry by Norse)
Email
keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone
575-770–3377

Battle-hardened unhoused veterans will be braving another night of bone-chilling weather to continue the community of protest started in July of 2015 and held once a week every Tuesday night since then.

POLITICS-AS-USUAL: NO ANSWERS, NO ACTIONS, LOTS OF SILENCE
The incoming City Council is home warm snug in its beds. “Liberal” newcomers Sandy Brown and Chris Krohn had not a word of support to say about the Freedom Sleepers long March during their mutual admiration speeches last week at the last Council meeting of the year.

Krohn will be interviewed on Norse’s show “Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides” at a time to be announced.

BERKELEY “POOR TOUR” ENTERS 7TH WEEK AFTER 12 BUSTS AND AT LEAST 6 RELOCATIONS
15 Hours ago the determined community at Adelaine and Oregon in Berkeley were given yet another deportation notice to vacate within 24 hours.

Interviews with leaders Dan McMullan, Mike Lee and Mike Zint (now in the hospital with pneumonia) are on line at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb161218.mp3 (1 hour and 20 minutes into the file).

See also http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-12-16/article/45238?headline=Are-the-Berkeley-raids-going-to-stop–-Becky-O-Malley and https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-they-came-for-the-homeless/253882908111999 /

Berkeley activists and Salinas activists have both credited the Freedom Sleepers with inspiration for their current vigils.

CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED
Wes White, of the Flagpole Community and the Salinas Union of the Homeless met with other activists this weekend to organize a broader coalition of workers, renters, disabled, and housed folks after the City’s October crackdown on the Flagpole Community. That encampment, backed by attorney Anthony Prince, held off the Chinatown raids for many months, defeated one anti-homeless law, and are considering joining on to the ACLU’s state-wide lawsuit against Cal-Trans for seizing homeless property. See https://www.aclunc.org/news/civil-rights-groups-sue-caltrans-stop-illegal-raids-against-california-s-homeless

18TH HOMELESS MEMORIAL AT HOMELESS (LACK OF) SERVICES CENTER [HLOSC] DOES ANNUAL RITUAL MOURNING SESSION
The HLOSC isn’t proposing, backing, and organizing any real change that might impact the death rate in the homeless community. Instead, the increasingly prison-like HLOSC is having another “ain’t it a shame” annual ceremony reading the names of the dead, lighting candles, and assembling for pious speeches. Sort of a fitting counterpoint to the large fund-raising sign on its fence that borders Hiway 1–which indicates its primary priorities.

Under Executive Director “Freeze Out” Phil Kramer and the “More Grants for Less Services” Board of Directors, the HLOSC continues to lock out the majority of homeless people from meals and shelter while funding itself for those with “pathways to housing” under the current “smart solutions” mythology that ignores the needs of several thousand homeless people while panhandling for the few. Security guards and police have threatened those protesting abusive HLOSC behavior outside, and dispersed those sleeping in the cold at the gates of the $3 million “non-profit”.

https://www.santacruz.com/events/18th-annual-homeless-memorial-at-homeless-services-center-dec-20th-2016-10-00am

Generousheart Joe Schultz will be providing the usual hot soup against the cold. Blankets, sleeping bags, and supporters are welcome!

The usual Wednesday 11 AM HUFF meeting at the Sub Rosa Cafe is cancelled;  HUFFsters will reassemble on 12-28, at the usual time.

I Never Called For “Community Control of the Police”

Indybay Censorship, Sabotage, and Defamation
by Steven Argue
In organizing “Justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith protests, the Revolutionary Tendency works in a non-sectarian manner with protest co-sponsor Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom and with participation and support from Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, 15-year-old Luke Smith’s mother, Luke Smith’s class mates, and with food and coffee provided by Joe Schultz of India Joze. As these are grass-roots community events, one would think that the “non-hierarchical” censors at Indybay could look beyond their unexplained and seemingly irrational hatred, censorship, sabotage, and defamation of these community events demanding justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith. Yet, this is not the case.
sm_think.jpg

original image (960×540)
Indybay Censorship, Sabotage, and Defamation 
I Never Called For “Community Control of the Police” 
By Steven Argue 

Indybay, a supposed leftist alternative media source providing self-publishing for the people, is censoring posts for community organized events that are protesting the police and sheriff killings of Sean Arlt and Luke Smith. Here is a link to one of several of these postings that have been censored. The following link, which would otherwise be to that event, shows how almost all of it has been deleted and the rest has been crossed-out (that is, it shows that, unless Indybay censors have since rerouted the link, as they have done in the past): 

Justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith! (Censored) 
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/12/11/18794581.php 

The full text of what Indybay has censored, a protest being held Sat. Dec. 17th in Santa Cruz, can be found at the following Facebook event page description. We encourage people to sign up and invite your Facebook friends. 

Justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith! (December 17th Facebook page) 
https://www.facebook.com/events/231141847322298/ 

For some mainstream media coverage of one of our past protests on these issues check out the following KION Coverage: 
http://www.kion546.com/news/memorial-held-to-honor-locals-fatally-shot-by-police/196370776 

After December 17th, there will be continued actions. We have been doing these protests every Saturday at 1:30, but will skip Christmas Eve on the 24th. Past events on this issue were also censored by Indybay, and we expect this to continue into the future. People can get updates on these events by subscribing to the following site: 

Liberation News (Internationalist) 
https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news 

For those who are unfamiliar, Indybay is part of an international network of other regional sites that go by the name “Indymedia”. Indybay is a site that claims to provide open publishing “support for local, regional and global struggles against exploitation and oppression.” They also falsely claim to be “organized along anti-authoritarian principles of open and transparent decision-making processes, including open public meetings; a form of modified consensus; and the elimination of hierarchies.” It is on these premises that they obtain donations from the communities that they supposedly give voice. 

It has, however, become clear that Indybay’s promises are not reality based. Despite the false claims of Indybay, their hierarchy is presently censoring notices of important community events calling for “Justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith!” Despite their claims of “transparency”, they are carrying out these acts of censorship without any explanation to the community and organizations they have censored. As bad as that censorship and lack of transparency are, this gets far worse and more malicious. 

Indybay Sabotage and Defamation 

In addition to Indybay censorship of the “Justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith!” events, when one of the event postings was removed, the widely-circulated URL link to that specific censored posting was redirected by the Indybay censors to a different event that had already occurred in the past. This act of sabotage against a widely-circulated link likely confused some people and prevented them from attending our event. 

Not only did the censors at Indybay redirect people to an event notice that one would need a time machine to attend, the event posting that the Indybay censors redirected people to falsely states that the piece is written “by Steven Argue”, when in fact I had no hand in writing it at all. Furthermore, I oppose the demands that were put down in that writing in my name and find them extremely embarrassing. That event posting also fails to include the central demands of our protests. Yet, the “anti-authoritarian” Indybay censors have deleted my comment section postings stating I am not the author as well. In the statements that they delete, I have attempted only the most basic clarification by saying nothing more than, “I did not write the above post, despite being attributed as the author.” 

The redirection of this URL by the Indybay censors combined with the deletion of this elementary clarification can then only be seen as a malicious defamation of both me and the community protests I represent. This redirected link was widely distributed locally, nationally, and internationally. For some of us involved who take our program and demands very seriously, associating our name with what we do not support is a serious act of defamation that tarnishes our image. The deletions by the Indybay censors of my attempt to simply say that I did not write that post makes clear that these acts of censorship, sabotage, and defamation were carried out, and continue to be carried out, with the upmost malicious intent. 

The date of the event at the redirected link was December 3rd, but my deleted event posting was to occur on December 10th. An event on the same issue had been held on December 3rd, as these protests are being held weekly, but clearly that event had already happened. It was a fellow activist who posted that Dec. 3rd notice before that event occurred. He mistakenly posted his embarrassing demands in my name due to two innocent facts. First, he wanted to credit me and not himself as a central organizer of the event. Second, he felt rushed to get the post up himself as I was busy working out of town for a couple of days. 

If not for the redirected URL of the Indybay censors, however, this problem was otherwise corrected soon after the posting for Dec. 3rd event. I made clear, and the other activist in question accepted, that both I and the Revolutionary Tendency never wanted to be associated with those demands ever again, nor should those be put forward as the demands of the protests we are organizing. Fact is, it is likely that nobody would have ever looked at that Dec. 3rd posting ever again were it not for the censors at Indybay deleting our notice for the December 10th event and redirecting those who clicked that URL to the obsolete December 3rd posting. This brought back an otherwise resolved problem due to the fact that this sabotaged redirected link, just before it was sabotaged, was widely distributed locally, nationally, and internationally by Liberation News and the Revolutionary Tendency. 

Unfortunately, Indybay is now opposed to the simplest acts of common decency in allowing individuals and organizations the most basic right to our own words without the libel of misquotes that they are currently promoting against us. As a result, I must now also respond to the demands that they are falsely promoting as my own words. I have three main fundamental differences with the posting under my name. The first two are specific to the demands that I think need to be raised in the Sean Arlt and Luke Smith cases. The third is a demand raised in my name that I view as a fundamental violation of my political ideology. 

Libel Number One: Police Claims of a Rake 

First. the post falsely attributed to my name states, “Lethal shooting is NOT a necessary response to individuals carrying a rake…”. This fails by omitting one of the most fundamental questions, the fact that the police have never backed-up their claims that Sean Arlt even threatened them with a rake. We will not know whether or not there is any credibility to police claims that Sean Arlt ever threatened anyone with a rake until the audio and video is released which police claim backs their story. I am strongly opposed to all statements that concede a rake was involved as this one did. All flyers and notices actually written by me before and after that posting made this clear. Here is an example still found on current flyers:

“The Santa Cruz Police claim they killed Sean Arlt to prevent him from attacking them with a garden rake. They also say audio and video back their story. We say prove it. Release the audio and the video NOW! We are outraged at the stonewalling by City Manager Martin Bernal, Police Chief Kevin Vogel, Mayor Cynthia Mathews, and the entire Santa Cruz City Council–allowing the police to withhold the video and audio of the incident and the name of Arlt’s killer. Even if the police version of events is true, which we in no way assume to be the case, we ask why four cops could not subdue Sean Arlt without shooting him in the head and chest. Why weren’t tactics of de-escalation used? Why didn’t police use less lethal force like a Taser or aim for his legs? Yet, until the audio and video is released, we don’t assume that the police are telling the truth about anything. As far as we know, there may not have even been a rake involved. 

“We are also outraged at the corporate media’s coverage, taking the unproven allegations of the police as fact. For instance, stories that identify Sean Arlt as “the man who attacked police with a metal rake” should insert the word “allegedly”. Until the police release their evidence, all we have is an unproven allegation by the police. The corporate media show their blatant bias by treating unproven police claims as fact. 

“We are reminded of the Santa Cruz police murder of homeless activist John Dine in 1997. The police falsely claimed that John Dine was pointing a toy gun at them, but all independent eyewitnesses contradicted this lie. Some eyewitnesses were so outraged that they became activists on the issue. John Dine was, however, murdered by the Santa Cruz police with complete impunity.” 

We must be very careful not to get sucked into circulating police lies and propaganda as fact. In the case of John Dine, the eyewitness evidence is clear. John Dine never pointed a toy gun. Instead, the police murdered him in cold blood and lied about the entire incident. Everyone who circulated the “toy gun story as fact” scenario, even if it was with arguments about better “mental health training for police”, or whatever, were actually circulating police lies and propaganda as fact. In the police killing of Sean Arlt, ever since he was killed on October 16th, 2016, all authorities have suspiciously refused to release any real evidence while at the same time making unsubstantiated claims about a rake. Anyone who treats police claims of a rake in Sean Arlt’s hands as fact, no matter what their arguments may be regarding lethal force or mental health, are still circulating unsubstantiated police propaganda. The protest notice falsely attributed to me, by failing to question police claims of a rake in any way, submits to this police propaganda in a manner that I strongly oppose. 

Fire and Jail Deputy Chris Vigil! 

My second objection to the post that is wrongly attributed to my name, and promoted by the Indybay censors, is that it fails to call for the criminal prosecution of Deputy Chris Vigil on charges of murder for shooting and killing Luke Smith. At the time that Deputy Chris Vigil opened fire on Luke Smith with an AR-15 rifle, fifteen-year-old Luke Smith was at a safe distance and, despite holding a small 4-inch knife and being high on LSD, clearly was no immediate threat to anyone. This shooting by Deputy Vigil was, as a result, an act of murder. We call for the immediate firing of Deputy Chris Vigil and his prosecution on the charge of murder. The notice posted in my name also failed on these most basic of demands in a manner that I would have never done. 

Community Control of the Police? 

My third objection to that post that is wrongly attributed to me is the fact that it states, “We will be speaking out demanding strong changes in local law enforcement to establish real community control over the armed agencies.” Yet, I have been active against police brutality ever since I was a young teenager in the 1980’s, but I have never once, including now, supported demands for community control of the police. 

My first stand against police brutality was when the police handcuffed and shot Hal Saran Scott in the head right near my high school in St. Paul, Minnesota. As usual, the police got away with murder. In that case, they did it by intimidating eyewitnesses into silence. I continued to stand-up to the police, including leading a walk-out of hundreds of students at my high school, St. Paul Central, demanding the police be removed from our school and our doors be unlocked. I soon became a victim of false arrest and brutal police beatings myself, but was backed in my struggle for justice by the Inner-City Youth League, American Indian Movement, Young Socialist Alliance, Progressive Student Organization, and the Socialist Workers Party. 

Yet, never then, and never in my decades of experience standing up to police violence since, have I ever supported the demand of community control of the police. My organization, the Revolutionary Tendency, holds the same position. The reason is simple. We refuse to lie to the people. It is our opinion that community control of the police will only be won through proletarian socialist revolution that smashes the capitalist state and establishes a new police force representing working class interests. No reform of bourgeois police forces will do this and, in our opinion, any real community control of the police under the capitalist system is a pipe-dream. As revolutionary socialists, we are not going to lie to the public, selling them some snake-oil prescription that somehow democracy and community control of the police is possible under the capitalist system. 

Under our current system, the purpose of all bourgeois cops in the United States is to defend the established bourgeois order of exploitation of the majority by the wealthy capitalists who actually own this country and its politicians. That is to say, the purpose of the bourgeois cops is to serve and protect the rich while oppressing and terrorizing leftists, poor people, Black and brown people, and the working class in general. This includes the police carrying out orders to make sure that actual working class democracy does not come to the USA. Likewise, all Santa Cruz cops are required, unless they quit, to uphold the city’s discriminatory laws against homeless people. Cops throughout the United States play the role of slave catchers in the mass incarceration of the poor by enforcing drug laws. In addition, even the supposed “good cops” of myth are silent when other cops make-up charges, frame people, use excessive force, or murder people. Likewise, to keep their jobs, cops in the Bay Area and everywhere else in the United States carry out other political orders from their superiors to oppress leftists, protests, and strikes when this is deemed necessary by the ruling class. Brutality, murder, and other crimes from these cops is also generally allowed with impunity because this maintains a loyal police force willing to do the dirty work of the bourgeoisie. We cannot tell a lie. Community control of such forces, whose main purpose is to oppress our communities, is about as absurd as demanding an anti-racist KKK. It runs counter to their entire purpose and reason for existence. 

The oppressive and brutal role of the bourgeois cops is a central component of the capitalist state itself. The capitalist state is at its heart its cops, courts, prisons, and military. Any study of history and international current events shows that the role of the capitalist state is one that is universally so entrenched in preserving capitalist injustice that it cannot be transformed into the opposite of its current role and become an instrument of the working class under any reforms that supposedly bring “community control”. 

Karl Marx also observed and correctly argued these points in a piece on the Paris Commune written in May, 1871, where he supported a declaration of the Paris Commune stating, “They have understood that it is their imperious duty, and their absolute right, to render themselves masters of their own destinies, by seizing upon the governmental power.” Marx backed this declaration of the Paris Commune for the smashing of the capitalist state saying, “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.” Marx listed components of that capitalist state at that time in France to include “its ubiquitous organs of standing army, police, bureaucracy, clergy, and judicature…” 

During the Paris Commune, much of the French military had disintegrated, but the Paris Commune didn’t raise its own standing army to thoroughly abolish the old order and defend the working-class revolution. As a result, the Paris commune was eventually crushed by a motley mish-mash of counterrevolutionary troops slopped together by the French bourgeoisie. With the victory of the counterrevolution, around 20,000 communard men, women, and children were slaughtered. Vladimir Lenin cited this as an example of how the “bourgeoisie will stop at nothing.” Another lesson not lost on Marx and Lenin was the need for the working-class revolution to establish a strong professional standing army and police force of the workers’ state capable of defeating the capitalist counterrevolution. 

I agree with Lenin and Marx. The capitalist state, including its police forces, cannot be reformed. They must instead be smashed and liquidated in a proletarian socialist revolution. It is only through such a seizure of power by the working class, establishment of a workers’ state, and the establishment of a planned socialist economy through the total expropriation of the bourgeoisie, that the new police force will cease to be instruments of brutality and oppression for the wealthy capitalist class. While police oppression and brutality have also been carried out on behalf of privileged bureaucratic rulers in deformed socialist workers’ states, it is our position that unlike capitalism, this is not inherent in the socialist system and can be curtailed through establishing legitimate institutions of workers’ democracy and workers’ debate, eliminating bureaucratic privileges, and fighting to build socialism on a world scale. 

It should be added that despite our recognition that the socialist systems established after Stalin took power had the deficiencies of bureaucratic privileges, a lack of real workers’ democracy, and police abuses, we also don’t back western imperialist lies against these systems either. Every socialist revolution, through their planned socialist economies, brought major advancements in education, employment, healthcare, housing, development, and women’s rights while some also brought substantial advancements for oppressed nationalities and the environment as well. 

Within this context, not all police measures of these deformed workers’ states have been wrong, despite what western imperialist propaganda would have us think. For instance, before the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the U.S. backed capitalist dictatorship of Batista murdered 20,000 people. After the revolution, the Castro leadership executed a few hundred of these torturers and murderers, including brutal cops that would have never been brought to justice under capitalism, like Santa Clara Police Chief Cornelio Roja. Likewise, Cuba has since jailed people who have violated the law, including 75 co-conspirators in 2003 who were proven in court to be part of a CIA plot of destabilization. While criticizing some legitimate problems that occur in socialist Cuba, we also answer Yankee imperialist lies that portray legitimate acts of self-defense and punishment as repression no different than that which is dished out by the capitalist states. The people of Cuba, on every level, are far better off today than they were under the U.S. imposed mass murderer Batista and we support their right to defend those gains from imperialist attack and internal capitalist counterrevolution. 

For the sake of unity in the fight against police brutality in Santa Cruz, California, however, we have been happy to drop the debate on “community control of the police” versus “proletarian socialist revolution” in favor of working unity to demand justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith. In this manner, the Revolutionary Tendency works in a non-sectarian manner with protest co-sponsor Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom and with participation and support from Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, 15-year-old Luke Smith’s mother, Luke Smith’s class mates, and with food and coffee provided by Joe Schultz of India Joze. As these are grass-roots community events, one would think that the “non-hierarchical” censors at Indybay could look beyond their unexplained and seemingly irrational hatred, censorship, sabotage, and defamation of these community events demanding justice for Sean Arlt and Luke Smith. Yet, this is not the case.

Continue reading

Rally for Justice in the Arlt and Smith Killings 1:30 PM Saturday at the Town Clock

Another week has passed with no response from Chief Vogel’s SCPD releasing the video and audio of the shooting of Sean Arlt, and no response from Sheriff Hart’s Deputies regarding full disclosure of all video/audio surrounding the savaging (by police dog) and killing of Luke Smith.

There has been no action from either the Santa Cruz City Council or its Public Safety Committee regarding any change in the “shoot to kill” and “withhold from the community the documentation” policies of Vogel.

Nor has the Board of Supervisors made any attempt to rein in the Sheriff’s department or to investigate Smith’s killing.

The D.A.’s office is still supposedly “investigating” the Arlt and Smith killings.

Arlt was shot dead confronting at least 4 police offiers on October October 17. see http://www.ksbw.com/article/santa-cruz-police-knew-sean-arlt-had-mental-illness-family-says/6947949 /

Smith was first mauled and then shot by rifle while surrounded by 11 law enforcement officials. All this is according to the acknowledgment of the agencies involved.

Some selected clips of the Smith shooting can be seen at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20161121/NEWS/161129933 . There is news commentary and sheriff
http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/22/santa-cruz-sheriffs-office-footage-shows-15-year-old-fatally-shot-by-deputy/ .

Activists are calling for the firing and prosecution of the Deputy Chris Vigil and the release of the evidence in the Arlt case.

More info about the protest at https://www.facebook.com/events/231141847322298/ .


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End-of-the-Year Antics at City Council While Freedom SleepOut #75 Braves the Rain

 Date Tuesday December 13
Time
4:00 PM Tuesday9 AM Wednesday
Location Details On the wet pavement in front of City Hall after chatting with City Council members across the street in their warm meet-and-feast foyer at the Civic Auditorium welcoming the new City Council members. Bring tents, blankets, and weather-resistant survival gear if you have it. Rain is predicted. 
Event Type
Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
Phone 575-770-3377

Freedom Sleepers are there to protest the City’s refusal to enter the 21st Century. Acknowledge the human right of all people, rich and poor, to sleep at night. Instead City Council will be leaving police, security guards, and rangers (led by Mayor Mathew’s son, John) to enforce harsh anti-homeless laws menacing homeless survival behavior throughout the winter.

CITY COUNCIL’S LATEST ANTICS
City Council, which meets in early afternoon session today, will be honoring Lobo, the police dog. It will be voting hundreds of thousands of dollars for the SCPD’s body camera program. It’s a grim irony considering the murder of Sean Luke in defense of a sheriff’s police dog some weeks ago.

The Council is making no requirement that police video be made available to the public. Nor that police write their reports before consulting the video. Meanwhile, the City Adminstrator’s office has again delayed any release of Public Records regarding current public suveillance devices–their cost, location, and retention schedules. Such secrecy clouds claims of future transparency.

The SCPD also refuses to release citation records and other information concerning their current policies. Will they be any more likely to release future video demanded by the public? Sheriff Hart, who claims to be on board with Obama’s 20th Century Policing, refuses to release simple booking records–something already required by state law.

This funding of police body cameras is item #25 comes after a lengthy Consent Agenda which takes up most of the agenda. Unlike at the Board of Supervisors and in many other cities the public is not allowed to speak on any individual item separately unless they get the permission of a Council member. New Council members Brown and Krohn can alter this policy overnight– by simply requiring public comment on any item requested by a member of the public.

Oral Communications–for those who want to squeeze themselves into Mayor Mathews’ 2 minute strait jacket is supposed to be around 5 PM. This will be the only chance to actually speak on homeless matters–since none are on the agenda.

At 7 PM the Council reassembles to praise its outgoing and incoming members. When those speeches are done, the Council moves across the street to the Civic Auditorium to wine and dine.

Since this festive gathering will be happening as heavy rains fall, protesters, homeless folks, and their supporters might want to take their sleeping bags out of the rain to join the Council celebrants indoors and perhaps…stay awhile?

Perhaps apprehension of this possibility prompted Mayor “Two Minute” Mathews to take the unusual step of omitting the Civic Center post-coronation munch-and-mingle event from the Council’s agenda. In fact, state law requires her not only toadmit the public but to announce the gathering on the Council’s agenda in advance. This was done in past years.

Meanwhile, the Council has taken no action to end criminalization of the hundreds of those outside without shelter. Its Winter Shelter program, combined with AFC’s 20-person-per-night church program, can only take in 70-100 people a night (to expand to 125-140 on January 1st). In the City and County there are more than 3000; in the City at least 1000-1500. No move has been made to restore funding for open meals at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center or to rein in Ranger repression on Pacific Avenue, in the Parks, and on the Levee.

DENVER, SANTA ROSA, FLORIDA ENTER REJECT PUNITIVE SWEEPS
Homeless Out Loud, Occupy Denver, and other civil rights groups resisted the November homeless sweeps “authorized” by the 4-year old Camping Ban law as police seized tents and survival gear. See http://www.denverpost.com/2016/12/05/homeless-sweeps-denver-city-council-repeal-camping-ban/ .

In response to rising protest and plummeting temperatures, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock reluctantly announced that police will stop confiscating blankets and tents for the 3,700+ urban campers while maintaining the usual politician’s cover story that “safer” indoor shelter was available. https://denverhomelessoutloud.org/2016/12/10/mayor-hancock-orders-police-to-stop-taking-peoples-survival-gear-when-enforcing-the-camping-ban/ .

In Santa Rosa legislators voted to allow churches, granges, Moose lodges or any other group with property considered a “meeting facility” to offer a range of services to the homeless that wouldn’t normally be allowed under zoning rules for such properties.

These uses include allowing people to sleep in their cars overnight, camp in tents and take shelter indoors overnight, all under specific conditions. For example, indoor shelters need fire inspections. Campsites must be shielded from view by fencing and open fires are not allowed. The program guidelines also allow groups to offer property storage services, and for people to use portable bathrooms and bathrooms inside buildings. See http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6397711-181/churchs-proposed-homeless-encampment-stirs?artslide=0

In Flagler Beach, Florida, the homeless activist Wayne Perry confronted City Council with the demand he be allowed to sleep on public property since there were neither safe zones nor adequate shelter. When Perry began survival sleeping in Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve, paranoid NIMBY’s demanded the City take action–which they’ve done by designating a boat launch area as a homeless refuge. See http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20161209/flagler-beach-designates-homeless-refuge-at-county-park

Santa Cruz homeless activists have for years been demanding either a lifting of the camping ban and/or safe zones for camping and parking, though prescient homeless militant Linda “the Lark” Edwards denounced select, restricted, and supervised areas (such as the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center, predicted they would become de facto homeless concentration camps.

VIGIL DEMANDING JUSTICE FOR TWO SLAIN BY SHERIFF AND SCPD CONTINUES SATURDAY
Activists fighting police violence will continue their weekly demand for prosecution of the guilty cops and release of all audio and video around the killings of Arlt and Smith in recent weeks. Last week’s protest at the Town Clock retreated to the eaves of the post office in heavy rain. Activists invite homeless folks to join the protest to speak out against local police abuses against those outside. 1:30 PM, Town Clock. December 17th Saturday. More info at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/12/07/18794512.php .

 

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