ACLU in the Sentinel: The Charade Continues

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_24253770/santa-cruz-countys-aclu-chapter-celebrates-50-years

What a laugh. The Santa Cruz ACLU has shown an impressive, persistent, and oppressive indifference to civil and human rights violations in Santa Cruz. This is particularly true around the “liberal” Santa Cruz City Council’s institutionalized abuse of the rights of homeless people.

In the hands of politicians like Mike Rotkin and like-minded constitution-clippers like Chair Peter Gelblum, it’s a no-win game for the poor outside. Even abuses roundly condemned by other ACLU’s like the Sleeping Ban & the Downtown Ordinances receive no public criticism and are buried “for study” when they are brought up.

Rotkin was a frequent advocate of the Sleeping Ban when he was Mayor as well as a supporter of the Sitting Ban (even going to San Francisco to push for its version). That he could be such a power in the local ACLU tells the story.

More of a fund-raising machine for national causes (many of which are worthy if often classist), the local ACLU preens itself while police steal homeless property, destroy homeless camps, and harass homeless people all around the town.

Promising activists like Steve Pleich, once enmeshed in the power structure of the ACLU as he struggles to accumulate offices and titles, become silent and accommodating of bigotry pimps like Councilmember Pamela Comstock and Lynn Robinson.

The ACLU won’t even defend the right of its own petitioners in the parking lot next to Trader Joe’s, who’ve been cited or driven away for giving out literature.

Santa Cruz needs a real civil rights organization.

For more details on the sad story see:

“Earlier E-Mails to the ACLU on Denial of Civil Liberties to the Santa Cruz
Homeless” at http://www.indybay.org/newsite….
“Local ACLU Rides…er…Hides Again” at
https://www.indybay.org/newsit…
“ACLU Chair Closes Monthly Boad of Directors Meeting, Homeless Issues Off
the Agenda” at http://www.indybay.org/newsite…
For Pleich’s own copycat censorship of issues on his website, see “Open Letter to Steve Pleich of Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz” at https://www.indybay.org/newsit…

A Courageous Copwatcher Gets Trashed in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

Officer Ahlers is a Bad Cop
by brent is found guilty
Friday Feb 1st, 2013 10:11 PM

Today I was found “guilty” of sitting on the sidewalk and ordered to pay $300.
The only problem is that I didn’t sit down….

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scpd-officer-travis-ahler…

Today I was found “guilty” of sitting on the sidewalk and ordered to pay $300.
The only problem is that I didn’t sit down until SCPD officer Travis Ahlers ordered me to sit down on the sidewalk.

I had been walking south on Pacific Ave. near the intersection of Laurel St. when I saw officer Ahlers talking to a man who was sitting on the ground. He said, “may I search your backpack?” At which point, from a distance of 10’ away I told the man that he didn’t have to allow the officer to search his belongings. “Tell him NO,” I said. Officer Ahlers turned towards me and told me to sit down and produce my ID. I asked him what the charge was and he said, “For sitting on the ground.”
“I wasn’t sitting down until you told me to sit,” I retorted. He said, “that’ll be for a judge to decide.” Later I found out that the man who was sitting down was under formal probation and was able to be legally searched even without being told before-hand. I didn’t know this when I was reminding him of his 4th Amendment right to the privacy of his person and all of his stuff. Had I known this, I would have said nothing to him.

Well today was my day in court. Since this is an infraction and wouldn’t be heard in a regular court I had commissioner Kim Baskett disqualified so that the case would be heard in a regular court and the officer would have to be sworn in. Finally, on my 5th visit to the courthouse since September on this matter the case was seen by judge Timothy Volkman. I was charged with:

9.50.012 SITTING DOWN ON SIDEWALKS IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES.
No person shall sit upon the following enumerated portions of a public sidewalk: (b)    Within fourteen feet of any building.

The officer said that the ordinance included “squatting” and then offered to tell the judge what the dictionary definition of “squatting” was. The judge declined hearing the definition. I read the ordinance aloud to high-light that it clearly reads “No person shall sit..” The officer said that my buttocks were within 8” of my heels.

With this, the judge found me guilty of sitting on the sidewalk and ordered that I pay $300. The judge said, “this will teach you to leave the police alone while they’re conducting their business.” I said that I’m not being charged with Obstructing an officer, but instead, Sitting on the ground which I obviously didn’t do. The judge said, “I’m siding with the ‘people’ that your are guilty.”

I said that I don’t have the money… I don’t have $10 and I can’t pay. Then I said “I won’t pay. This is not justice. This is a bad cop and you’re a bad judge.” I refused a payment plan or a work program.
I then left the court when the bailiff who was escorting me out said, “If you don’t pay it’ll be twice as much.”

It is true that at the end of this frustrating hearing that I lashed out in classic Brent Adams style. I really couldn’t believe my ears when I was found guilty. Yes, it is just an infraction and yes, its just $300 but isn’t it the principle of the thing? I had not been sitting and yet I was found guilty of sitting down. It is true that I don’t have the money to pay. I will check with the clerks office and try and get on a payment plan or a work program.
I am truly frustrated.

COMMENTS

well done Brent

by V

Friday Feb 1st, 2013 11:06 PM

You did everything right at every step of the way, Brent. You took a stand when you thought you saw injustice, and you made these lying pieces of shit work hard to get you. Unfortunately and surprisingly, they pursued you all the way even despite the legal trickery (well played!) of having the ref disqualified in favor of a real judge. You made them work for this one.

You, sir, are a fighter.

by John E. Colby

Saturday Feb 2nd, 2013 2:20 AM

Brent. Your story is instructive about how little justice there is in our justice system. Unfortunately the incident wasn’t documented on video. Every Santa Cruzan should read about this so they can understand that when they step into a courtroom they are entering a rigged system. When judges and police officers flout the law with such brazen immunity, how can you expect the criminally inclined to respect the same laws, or to even respect the courts and law enforcement?

The public needs to be educated to start recall campaigns against these rogue judges who mete out injustice with impunity. Alternatively, if you can obtain a copy of the transcript for your trial as evidence of misconduct by the judge, you could send it to the news media and the Judicial Council of California to file a misconduct complaint (against this judge). If enough people mistreated by this judge do the same, eventually this judge may feel some heat.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/01/18731166.php?show_comments=1#18731209

by Robert Norse

Saturday Feb 2nd, 2013 12:07 PM

THOU SHALT NOT COPWATCH
Brent got screwed because he challenged the authority of the cop by watching and commenting. He was obviously not really obstructing or interfering (or he would have been charged with that misdemeanor crime). Nor was he sitting. Leaning and squatting–according to the 2002 debates on the Sitting Ban (which specifically considered that question) rejected “leaning”, much as fashion-conscious merchants wanted to include it.

The Sitting Ban has nothing to do with obstructing the sidewalk, obstructing officers, or public safety. It has to do with obstructing poor and counterculture folks (or anyone the merchants find unsightly) and giving maximum discretion to the police so they can move people along. That’s why Measure S was recently defeated in Berkeley. The Berkeley service providers, three members of the Berkeley City Council and the local ACLU mobilized against it.

Of course, we haven’t heard a peep from Ken Cole (head of the Housing Authority), nor Monica Martinez (Executive Director of the Homeless Lack of Services Center), nor the local ACLU, nor–of course–any City Council members. Our City Council unanimously voted to increase the penalties and scope of the Ban in 2009.

Copwatching is legal and important. I spoke with two observers who witnessed the entire “trial”. Judge Volkman reported reprimanded Adams for his copwatching activity, suggesting it was a “lesson” for him. If “shut up, close your eyes, and keep moving” is the lesson, I suggest we fire the teacher.

BANNING CUSTOMARY AND PRESUMABLY FIRST AMENDMENT-PROTECTED ACTIVITY
The current Sitting Ban (so-called since it bans sitting in 90% of the sidewalk in business, downtown, and beach districts) is a nasty ordinance which has never had a real constitutional challenge (as Berkeley’s did).

9.50.012 Sitting Down on Sidewalks in Designated City Zones: In the C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business district, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, no person shall sit upon the following enumerated portions of a public sidewalk: (a) At any bus stop; (b) Within fourteen feet of any building. Where any portion of a building is recessed from the public sidewalk, the fourteen feet shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk; (c) Within fifty feet of any ATM machine or cash disbursal machine, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburses or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines; (d) Within fourteen feet of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk; (e) Within fourteen feet of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, or vending cart; (f) Within fourteen feet of any street corner or intersection; (g) Within fourteen feet of any open air dining area or cafe extension; or (h) Within fourteen feet of any kiosk.

Since most sidewalks are 10′ wide in all other places than Pacific Ave, this simply bans sitting where there are buildings–period. It’s designed to “clear away the riffraff” and give us the Shopping Mall look. The latest 2009 twist was to include “sculptures” and “directory signs” as creators of 14′ forbidden zones. As well as increasing penalties on “unattended” tickets to create both (a) a new misdemeanor crime (MC 4.04.015) and (b) the right to charge every subsequent infraction crime, no matter how petty or irrelevant as a misdemeanor ((MC 4.04.010(4)).

TICKETS WITHOUT WARNING
Other ordinances that involve the creation of “forbidden” zones have warning provisions. Benches, for instance, have a ridiculous 1-hour restriction.

On those benches that still remain that is–three have recently been removed on Cooper St., perhaps at the behest of the noxious Nextspace, a Coonerty-founded business.

For instance 9.50.12, Sitting down on Public Benches in Designated Zones, which forbids you to “sit down upon or otherwise occupy a public bench or use a public bench to store property for more than a total of one hour during any given twelve-hour period” has a second provision that “No person shall be cited under this section unless he or she has first been notified by a police officer, public officer or downtown host that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, and thereafter continues the violation.”

Not so with the Sitting Ban.

MORE ON THE LAWLESS LAWS AND ABUSIVE COPS
For more fun fuck-you-over ordinances, check out “Deadly Downtown Ordinances–Update” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657087.php .

For another account of the fun-loving Officer Ahlers, see “Selective Enforcement and Harassment by Santa Cruz Police on Pacific Avenue” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/09/13/18721560.php

RESTORING THE CONSTITUTION
Since we have a hopeless City Council, responding to the agenda of Take Back Santa Cruz, the SCPD, the SC Neighbors, and the DTA, I’ve fond the best response is to do what Brent tried to do: point out the abusive behavior of the police, hosts, and private security thugs.

When you do this, I suggest you address passersby, keep at least 10′ away from the incident. Take a step back if asked. Document what you’re doing with a phonevid or some other device, and try to have a second witness with you. Often cops will stop and park their running squad cars in the middle of the street to deal with the “emergency” of a “criminal sitter”.

Alerting the public walking by to this has often, I’ve found, shortened the police action and encouraged them to move on to more sensible priorities.

It’s also quite appropriate to fine a formal Internal Affairs Complaint with the Professional Standards Unit of the SCPD or contact the City’s so-called “Independent” Police Auditor with your concerns. You don’t have to be the target of the abuse. You just have to witness what you felt was wasteful, abusive, or uncalled-for police behavior.

FILING A COMPLAINT
An on-line form to fill out when you witness or experience abusive behavior of any kind from the SCPD can be found at http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9334 . Just make sure you check #5 at the end, indicating it’s a “complaint” and not a “Comment” or any of the other classifications that are essentially irrelevant.

Robert H. Aaronson is the auditor. He wanders in occasionally from his roost in Palo Alto to collect 20Gs a year or more, never bothering to issue a written report that I’ve heard about. Still it makes a record–and that can count later for others who want to make Pitchess Motions in court challenging an officer’s credibility or violent behavior in a future case. Aaronson’s e-mail is not given, but is on the City website as a form at http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=983 .His phone is given as 650-565-8800.

Again–the purpose of these is not to expect any kind of justice or accountability. Rather to simply make a record. If you do complain to either Aaronson or the SCPD, please post a copy on line as well.

OTHER COMMENTS CAN BE FOUND AT http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/01/18731166.php?show_comments=1#18731183

Convicted of “Unlawful Lodging,” Homeless Advocate Linda Lemaster Hopes to Abolish 647(e)

by Alex Darocy

Jan 15th, 2013

More than two years after originally being cited for lodging on the morning of August 10, 2010 during the Peacecamp demonstrations, which were held to protest the sleeping ban that criminalizes homelessness in Santa Cruz, Linda Lemaster’s trial began on November 6, 2012. After three days of listening to testimony, a jury found her guilty of lodging during Peacecamp, and on December 6, Lemaster was sentenced to community service and probation by Judge Rebecca Connolly. In an interview conducted on January 3 of this year, Lemaster said she believes now, even more than when she left the trial, that her being cited for lodging was about breaking up a political protest that relied on a law enforcement strategy that is anti-homeless and has a homeland security agenda. “I don’t think that trial had much if anything to do with justice,” Lemaster said. [Top photo: Linda Lemaster speaks to supporters outside of the Santa Cruz courthouse before her sentencing on December 6, 2012. Scroll down for more photos.]

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linda-lemaster-lodging-tr…

 

“One of my goals is to get rid of this law,” Linda Lemaster said, referring to California Penal Code 647(e), or unlawful lodging. After nearly being removed entirely from the state’s law books in recent years, the law was tweaked a bit, but it still remains. It is mostly used as a move-along law for homeless people in San Diego and Santa Monica, according to Lemaster.

“I think it was a political trial.” Lemaster said.

“The law seems to be used entirely against homeless people and demonstrators right now in California. We haven’t been able to find another recent example of its use.”

Lemaster plans to appeal the conviction, saying, “The appeal is more of a chance to focus on the law, rather than me.”

Some advocate for a change in the lodging law, but she wants it completely removed because, “I just think with that kind of history even if they change it a little, two years, and they will change it a little more.”

Linda Lemaster had been a social and political advocate for the homeless and an activist in Santa Cruz County for over 30 years when she was issued a citation for “unlawful lodging” during the Peacecamp demonstrations. Originally held to protest the sleeping ban in the City of Santa Cruz, section 6.36.010 of the municipal code, which makes it illegal to sleep outside during the hours of 11pm and 8:30am in the city, Peacecamp was initiated at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse and Government Center by a group of local homelessness activists on July 4, 2010.

Community members gathered at the court house during the evenings and either slept or protested there to make a strong statement against the criminalization of homelessness locally. The action quickly grew and began to included a large number of homeless community members who were looking for a safe place to be at night.

Lemaster, the founder of the organization “Housing Now! in Santa Cruz”, originally attended Peacecamp to make one on one contact with both homeless people and other advocates.

“I use Housing Now! in Santa Cruz as a vessel to stay in touch with how homeless people feel about stuff,” Lemaster said about the group that had non-profit status for its first ten years, and was under welfare’s parent support groups. Now it is mostly just her and whatever volunteers she can find.

“Sometimes I’m warning homeless people how to be discreet at night, or this is where the services are. It takes different forms, but because it is ongoing, I think of it as a medium to help me to know when, and how, we can do more,” she said.

“I feel like it is my job through Housing Now! in Santa Cruz to inform other people…to let people know, ‘look this isn’t right, you cant even have a blanket.’”

At Peacecamp, Lemaster found the one on one contact with homeless people and advocates she was looking for. “I’ve gone to a lot of demonstrations…That’s what is consistent no matter where I have been, no matter whether it is a few people or it’s a hundred people…that there are people who never get to express themselves.”

Eventually, Lemaster became part of a support network at the demonstrations that had her, on the evening of August 9 into the morning of August 10, 2010, attempting to stay up all night to help a sick friend who wouldn’t leave.

Over the course of that evening, another friend handed her a blanket, and she wrapped it around herself. She lay down on the concrete outside of the courthouse, and she may have fallen asleep. When deputies arrived early that morning as part of their enforcement campaign against Peacecamp, Lemaster fit their description of who to target for a lodging citation, which she receive at 4am that morning.

Later, that act of taking a blanket and wrapping it around herself as she lay down to rest during Peacecamp, may have played a large part in her conviction, and according to the District Attorney, it was one of the major examples of evidence that she was “unlawfully lodging.”

The definition of lodging that was used can be applied, according to the California penal code, to both public and private places, and in the case of Lemaster’s trial, was worded specifically as follows:

“To lodge means to occupy a place temporarily, or to permanently or temporarily settle or to live in a place. It may, but does not have to include, sleeping, the laying down of bedding, the storing personal belongings, or carrying on cooking activities. Lodging means more than merely falling asleep, but less than moving in permanently.”

Lemaster felt that the process of arriving at the legal definition of lodging to be used in her trial was not fair. “To me it was very frustrating,” she said. She feels that the definition of lodging that deputies were using when they cited people at Peacecamp in 2010 was vastly different from the legal definition arrived at for the purposes of her trial in late 2012.

“Four days in a row….the judge changed her mind out of hearing of the jury about what that would mean,” Lemaster recalled.

Furthermore, whenever the DA came in and said he didn’t like part of the definition they were working on, Lemaster felt that the judge “accommodated him every time.”

After the trial had begun, the DA even wanted to change the definition again, she recalled. “How can you prepare on either side, for your trial, if everyday it’s a different meaning,” Lemaster wondered.

Whether she fell asleep or not on the morning of August 10 at Peacecamp may not have been the primary reason the jury sided against her, according to two members who stayed to discuss their motivations after the verdict was read, Lemaster said.

“The jury foreman said that they all felt that the lodging law would have pertained to anyone once the policeman made his first warning to go, and so they had no choice but to find me guilty,” Lemaster said. She added, “the other guy, not the foreman, said, like two to three minutes passed and you were still there like you wanted to talk to him (like you could have been leaving).”

“I tried to talk to him [the sheriff's deputy] when they came around ticketing people, which is what made look like I wasn’t going to leave to some jurors, that I stood while people scrambled, so I wasn’t afraid enough,” Lemaster explained.

“If the law is that kind of…soggy, that not moving fast enough makes you lodging and someone else who is scrambling for cover isn’t lodging, there is another good reason that it should be exposed so that ordinary people who have their brains working can get in on this conversation,” she concluded.

To Lemaster, the jury also apparently felt that using the lodging law was justified in breaking up a political protest.

“The jury foreman said that they all felt that the lodging law would have pertained to anyone once the policeman made his first warning to go, and so they had no choice but to find me guilty,” she said.

Lemaster also felt that the judge in her trial treated Peacecamp as a public safety issue, as opposed to a peaceful demonstration.

“The inclination of judge Rebbecca Connolly, was to not acknowledge the demonstration, but look at is as public health and safety issue, but as my attorney Johnathon Gettleman pointed out, if it was a health and safety or public safety issue, there’s an appropriate department of the county government to deal with that, and they didn’t even think to call them.”

“You just can’t have a law that is both landlord-tenant law, pushing homeless-around law, a status crime, a public safety code, and whatever use you want to put it to. You know? I mean, this isn’t England, this is the U.S.A…It’s too broad in general.”

Ultimately, Lemaster felt she was targeted for lodging because she didn’t leave the scene when deputies arrived. “Because I didn’t scurry in fear when the deputies walked up…I must be guilty of lodging.”

“Everybody went with the idea that just being there made me guilty, and that makes me want to appeal it in and of itself, to appeal the decision, that if that jury is correct, then we have this big status crime problem, if just being there is the crime, you know, and if they are wrong, then there is something wrong with the courts. But I am not quite ready to be in the front of that parade, I can see that the courts are under great stress.”

Lemaster sees the possibility of appealing her case as a method of challenging the state’s lodging law, but she says the city and Peacecamp’s original target is still the main issue on her mind.

“I’m still committed to a campaign to change the 6.36.010 sleeping ban for the City of Santa Cruz. It’s a long-term commitment, but we have a city council that there’s is no point in lobbying. I disagree with some other activists that that’s the outlet for educating everyone. I think until people feel differently, ordinary people, we wont get very far exposing how unfair that law is, but it needs to be done when the opportunity comes.”

Over the course of the three decades Lemaster has been involved in homeless issues, she has done everything from feeding people through Food Not Bombs, to working for the county in various official capacities to help the homeless. She has participated in a number of demonstrations, and has chaired governmental bodies concerning homelessness and violence against women. She also has first hand experience; she has been homeless herself.

One example she recalls of an early success in her endeavors to help those without a fixed address, was when she fought for the rights of homeless people to vote.

“Even though it had already been litigated, the county wasn’t letting them register to vote. This was in the very late 70s or maybe 1980 and it took an attorney and I taking them to court, and making us argue all over again that even if they were on a heater grate on the sidewalk, if they were willing to describe where that was, and apply to be a valid voter which you have to do a month before the election, then they are entitled to vote, and it easily won in court once you went to all that trouble,” Lemaster recalled.

She has been involved with governmental agencies long enough to notice a change in how certain issues are being addressed. At the time she was fighting for the right for homeless people to vote, she said that she and other activists wouldn’t necessarily be able to persuade the county to change policies without going to court, but at that time she felt that they could at least, “bring problems one by one to the county government.”

Lemaster’s advocacy work also lead her to help motivate county officials establish a location where welfare recipients in Watsonville could cash their checks. There was a time when those living in the southern part of Santa Cruz County would have to travel to Santa Cruz to cash their benefits checks. After Lemaster paid a personal visit to county officials, a solution was found within two weeks.

The manner in which the authorities dealt with Peacecamp was different, Lemaster noticed.

“What I think is most different now, is there is a set of, I don’t know if they are beliefs, policies, or a driving philosophy, but it seems to me that there is homeland security agenda that has changed how government responds to some situations,” she said.

Lemaster felt that more governmental agencies should have been involved in the decision making process regarding Peacecamp, but none appeared to take an interest in getting involved.

“Now there were people through Peacecamp, there was someone from the SPCA, someone who used to be a county social worker, people who in their own conscience, during the day mostly, came down and checked out who was there. But in the whole infrastructure of county government, nobody thought to do that.”

Consequentially, Lemaster felt that law enforcement was left to deal with Peacecamp on their own, and they handled it as a complaint driven process.

“They made this plan to whip the whole thing out, and give people like me a ticket, based on the complaints they had, as it was shown in the testimony during my trial, and their own first hand perception, what they decided from their own contact, that’s all they had behind them to plan, and I want to go to the county and say I feel that was remiss.”

“They didn’t even think of the court, they didn’t even think of talking to social workers.”

Though some of the individuals who helped devise the plan to deal with Peacecamp were county officials that Lemaster herself had worked with in the past, she pointed out that, “all of these executive decisions were left more or less to Plageman [Lieutenant Fred Plageman of the sheriff's department].”

Lemaster also pointed to Plageman’s testimony during her trial where he stated that he had looked to law enforcement models that were being employed outside of Santa Cruz County when he found the lodging law, as opposed to looking to social workers within the county.

“It’s like using a nuclear weapon to whip out Hiroshima, It’s a little overkill,” she cautioned.

“They deserve to have the CAO [the County Administrative Office] and the actual County Board of Supervisors, or an appropriate agent in their place as policy maker, in on that conversation, rather than shut down what they knew was a first amendment protest. I know they carefully put words in that warning [the flier that deputies handed at Peacecamp warning individuals they were lodging] saying we were guilty of lodging to make it sound like a demonstration doesn’t count at night, but that’s not true.”

Beyond the police-centered decision making, Lemaster also compared the way deputies conducted law enforcement activities as being “homeland security” influenced.

“At Peacecamp I’m seeing them [sheriff's deputies] on one day, they are comrades, they put their arm around one of the guys when they walk up to him, they check in with everyone, it’s very casual. They seemed to remember people’s names, even if they hadn’t seen them for a few days,” she recalled.

When it came to the evening she was issued a citation, however, Lemaster felt their demeanor completely changed. She recalled trying to engage in conversation with deputies a number of times that morning, but they wouldn’t answer her questions, telling her, “We’re a team, we can’t talk to you now,” and, “We really have to do this exactly the same [each time], so bare with us,” she recalled.

“Their personal self is still wanting to be comrades, but they have a protocol, and in my opinion, it’s a homeland security protocol,” Lemaster observed.

“They were like people one day, and then when they decided, they got their lodging law and decided a campaign, they stayed in the role of this military, four man team. Two four man teams the first night, and one the night I was there.”

“That’s why I was having trouble getting to ask a question,” she explained “They said that, ‘We have to treat each one of you exactly the same.’”

“Indicating it was a military approach,” Lemaster thought.

She also felt that this “military” approach, as she put it, was expanded on when the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s department used similar law enforcement techniques during the period Occupy Santa Cruz spent at the courthouse in 2011, which was during the height of the national occupy movement.

“Because Peacecamp had happened, and up to that point they had gotten away with it, they were willing to feel a little more emboldened and capable of the larger group with this homeland security type approach at Occupy Santa Cruz,” she said.

An even deeper problem for Lemaster is anti-homeless bigotry, which she feels is “pervasive” and says is also something that had to do with law enforcement’s strategies for dealing with Peacecamp.

“I really believe the sheriff’s deputies would have had a more adequate strategy if they weren’t being reactionary, and I believe they were reacting to people in the county building complaining. Complaining about the same old stuff everybody complains about, about a fifth of which is even possibly true.”

Peacecamp was reportedly receiving sanitation-related complaints, and Lemaster felt the complaints which were from county employees working in the building, who were coming into first-hand contact with the demonstration, were really about homeless people themselves, and they weren’t fair.

“We don’t go around excoriating each other for smoking cigarettes,” she observed, “but we go around excoriating homeless people for leaving a butt behind, as if they had a choice.”

“As long as they were looking at all the homeless people crashed there, and their friends, as “the other” they’re not really looking at the whole situation when they have to resolve a problem.”

“Homeless people come from the same culture that we come from when we are not homeless, but they have to live in a culture that is much more immediate and much more dangerous.

“I expect more from law enforcement. When they are bringing extra people out, I think they need to study the problem beforehand.”

Even though Lemaster feels her ability to communicate directly with the county has changed over the years, she said, “I consider them my allies still.”

“We used to go to the same workshops together…we used to be immediate allies…we used to be part of a team that would confront people,” Lemaster said about some of the county officials who had a say in the decision making process regarding law enforcement strategies at Peacecamp.

“Because of the adversarial nature of the court, and in my opinion you don’t have to be honest in court these days, We are put like we are on two different sides of a team that is at war with each other, and that is the opposite of what I just tried to do for most of my time. that I had any choice about, in the last 40 years. It was frustrating.”

Even more frustrating for Lemaster was how she effectively became silenced during her trial, saying, “I was put out of my life, I was put out of my volunteer work, my relationship to my community, because I had to hold my tongue as far as anything in the county was concerned.”

While Lemaster felt she was once able to visit in person any and every county official she wanted to communicate with, being on trial for lodging forced her to hold her tongue in many situations she once would have openly confronted, because she feared her actions or words could have been used against her in some way during her trial.

“I’ve been doing something for 40 years to help poor people, and one part of that is when I find something where the system doesn’t work, I try to show that to people, or even fix it, or help fix it, or find out who can fix it.

“So if it is people on GA [General assistance] can’t get GA if they are not already in the system, that’s easy to fix, you just tell everyone, and then they’ll say, ‘OK,’ and it somehow trickles up to the Board of Supervisors eventually.”

“Real people suffered because I wasn’t able to be that liaison for them,” Lemaster said.

When defending her decision to not plead guilty, or take a plea deal, Lemaster was not only informed by her outlook as a Quaker, which guides her to never lie, but also by a desire to maintain a certain moral high ground in the community as an advocate for others.

“Doing the kind of changes that affect people in some practical way in their lives for the better requires a credibility,” she said.

Lemaster said she was offered a plea deal by the District Attorney’s office in 2011 which would have reduced her misdemeanor to an infraction if she would plead guilty to “disturbing the peace.”

“I wouldn’t have minded the infraction’s apparent purpose. But I was being asked to say that I was disturbing the peace on Dec 10th at 4 am or so? I mean, they wanted me to say either guilty or no contest. They were asking me to say an outright lie, expecting me to,” Lemaster recalled.

“I couldn’t,” Lemaster explained.

To her, pleading guilty would have felt like, “totally denying PeaceCamp2010, my new friends from there, and what it had meant to me…it was just that compromise that felt like being pressed to lie.”

“I don’t think that trial had much if anything to do with seeking justice,” Lemaster concluded. “I think it was a political trial, and I feel strongly about that, more so than when I left the trial…I think the District Attorney was given political marching orders when they picked him.”

“In our country and in Santa Cruz County, is this a homeland security state where the government decides who is a terrorist, or who is a good citizen, or who is not even worthy of naming? Or is Santa Cruz County still under the Constitution that we think of as the lead legal document of our land, where people even if they happen to be homeless have certain civil rights, and even some human rights are acknowledged in our constitution, and even more clearly so in the state constitution.”

Lemaster plans to continue raising awareness about the laws that outlaw sleep in Santa Cruz.

She also plans to file an appeal in her case to fight Judge Connolly’s claims that the lodging law is constitutional, and she wants to make a presentation before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors that outlines “missteps” on the county’s part in relation to how sheriff’s dealt with Peacecamp 2010.

Finally, Lemaster also wants to begin a campaign that she hopes will achieve statewide participation of “homeless friendly” groups and supporters to, “take the lodging law 647(e) off the books.”

Lemaster calls her motivation a, “simple and moral imperative,” because, “consequences are way too harsh for houseless and homeless folks. It has to get exposed.”

Lemaster feels that Santa Cruz is poised to be a leader in finding better solutions to end homelessness.

“The legislature is under the same pressures that the court is, and the county is, and their deputies, to keep the homeless out of sight, because within the scheme of things, within our status quo, our government’s status quo, they don’t have the tools they need to solve the problem.”

“So, under pressure from the citizenry at large, and whatever delusions some of them are carrying with them, the police just keep pushing them back, and criminalizing them, sweeping them. If you have to shove them in a van, or put them in jail overnight, at least that curb is clear.”

“It’s the mentality of LA, and small towns like Yreka, and obviously in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz could be a leader. The City and County of Santa Cruz could be a leader in finding solutions.”

“They are going to have to be a leader, in either a kind of demonic abuse of people, or solutions that are inclusive. One way or the other, just because of the cost of housing here, and not having the infrastructure that a city would have for people when they fall, or when they are hurt, or when they can’t get to the hospital.”

Note: The following is a first hand account of Linda Lemaster’s lodging trial in November of 2012. It primarily focuses on evidence and testimony that was admitted into the court record, as opposed to an analysis of the legal arguments in the trial, though some of the legal wrangling was noted.

For a complete report of Linda Lemaster’s trial for unlawful lodging, either scroll past the photos at the bottom of this article, or click on this link to go directly there:
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/15/18730225.php#18730255

For more information about Linda Lemaster and her work advocating for poor people and the homeless, see her blog at:

http://hearthbylinda.blogspot.com/

Alex Darocy
http://alexdarocy.blogspot.com/

MORE PHOTOS AND COMMENTS AT http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/15/18730225.php

Santa Cruz 11 Benefit

Published on December 27, 2012 in News

Show community support for the Santa Cruz Eleven at a benefit on Sunday, January 6, 2013, at India Joze in downtown Santa Cruz starting at 3:30 p.m.

Enjoy a delicious plate of India Joze food, listen to local musicians and support The Santa Cruz Eleven, seven of whom still face charges arising from their alleged involvement with the occupation of a long-time vacant bank building late last fall, 2011. $10 – $15 suggested donation, No one turned away.

The defendants would also love to see you at their preliminary hearing, scheduled Monday, January 7th, 9:00 a.m. in Department 6 of the Santa Cruz County Courthouse.

 

Defendants are still charged with (1) felony conspiracy to commit vandalism and/or trespass, (2) felony vandalism, (3) misdemeanor trespass by entering and occupying, and (4) misdemeanor trespass by refusing to leave private property.

As economic disparity increases, Santa Cruz County continues spending money to prosecute people who bring these issues to the foreground. Check out the SantaCruzEleven.org website for more information.

India Joze is located at 418 Front Street across from the Metro Center.

Spread the word!

No jail time for Santa Cruz County woman convicted of unlawfully lodging during Peace Camp 2010 demonstration

By Jessica M. Pasko

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   12/06/2012


SANTA CRUZ — An advocate for the homeless convicted last month of illegal lodging won’t serve jail time, a Santa Cruz County judge ruled Thursday.

Linda Lemaster could have faced up to six months in County Jail for her conviction of one count of unlawful lodging, a misdemeanor. Judge Rebecca Connolly chose to sentence her to six months on a conditional sentence and ordered her to pay $590 in fines and fees, which she said could be paid through community service hours instead. A conditional sentence is essentially like probation except through the court rather than the county’s probation department.
Jurors found Lemaster had violated the law by staying outside the county courthouse on Aug. 10, 2010 along with people participating in the Peace Camp demonstration, which was aimed at protesting the city’s anti-camping ban. At trial, Lemaster testified that she hadn’t been sleeping outside that night and that she had no intention of doing so.
She and her attorneys maintained that she stayed at the courthouse that night to look after a demonstrator who was ill. Because of her chronic back problems, she said, she was at least partially lying down when deputies arrived and someone had placed a blanket over her.
Prosecutor Alex Byers on Thursday acknowledged Lemaster’s work on behalf of the homeless, but said “we’re not here today because of homeless problems.”
“It’s sad, anyone with a heart considers that,” Byers said, but added, “It’s about the law. Santa Cruz is a very tolerant place but that tolerance has limits.”
The tolerance doesn’t extend to situations where the right to demonstrate infringes upon the rights of others, he said, explaining that the three-month long demonstration brought health risks, property damage and limited access to the county offices for the public. It also cost taxpayers for cleanup and security costs, he said.
“You don’t get to break the law because you don’t agree with it,” the prosecutor said.
Under state law, a person “who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it,” can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
Byers did not ask for jail time, instead proposing Connolly sentence Lemaster to 40 hours of community service and a three-year conditional sentence.
Lemaster told the court she thought her trial had focused too much on the entire Peace Camp 2010 demonstration rather than on her individual actions. She said that while she accepts the consequences of her actions, she believes the ultimate responsibility lies with the government, which has failed to take care of its people and presented the need for such demonstrations.
Lemaster’s supporters filled the courtroom for the Thursday afternoon sentencing hearing.
“The principles on which this case stood are clearly very important to the community,” defense attorney Jonathan Gettleman said.
Gettleman said the idea of community service as a sentence for Lemaster was “ironic” given that his client’s life revolves around providing services to the community and working for society’s most vulnerable.
Connolly acknowledged the real issues involved with homelessness, but said that Lemaster’s act of civil disobedience was her choice and it carries consequences.
“I do appreciate the efforts made … it served as a vehicle to challenge the consitutionality of the law,” she said.
Gettleman said he plans to appeal the conviction




COMMENTS:  .

Robert Norse · Top Commenter · 65 years old

      Wild exaggerations about PC2010′s “damaging” activities were irrelevant and prejudicial, but apparently welcomed by Judge Connolly whose many biased decisions allowing prosecution material in after deadline, refusing to allow the defense to add the full context of Linda’s blog, and other errors will be addressed on appeal.
      Meanwhile it was clear that the smear job the prosecution put on had nothing to do with Linda’s presence there but attempted to confuse the jury with the longer protest (which itself received no littering or vandalism citations, much less prosecutions).
      The Sentinel writer might have noted that Linda testified under oath that she tried unsuccessfully to get clarity from the deputy who told her to leave whether she could still be there as a protester without “occupying” as presumably is guaranteed by the Constitution (and was allowed for others).
      This trial was an ex post facto rubberstamping of deputy behavior in getting rid of a political protest without using a legitimate process or finding any real crime. Kind of familiar these days.

womanofsteel222 (signed in using yahoo)

       Showing how capricious and arbitrary the District Attorney’s office has become, in May 2011, a different judge sentenced 2 men convicted of the same “lodging” charge with 400 hours community service. When they refused, the Judge threw them both into jail for 6 months on the spot.

Activist Lemaster Sentenced for Illegal Lodging

“For more extensive information and commentary on this case, go to http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/12/02/18726953.php .” – R. Norse.

 

Georgia Perry

SC Weekly: Dec 11, 2012

Linda Lemaster says she’ll appeal her conviction stemming from Peace Camp 2010. (Photo by Chip Scheuer)

Despite being shut down over two years ago, the loose threads of Peace Camp 2010 are still dangling in the county court system. After Dec. 6’s sentencing for Linda Lemaster, who received a misdemeanor for illegal lodging at Peace Camp and faces community service plus probation, the longtime homeless advocate and her attorneys have their sights set on an appeal they hope will take them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Peace Camp 2010 was a protest against the camping ban in the city of Santa Cruz, the citations Lemaster and several other protesters received for sleeping on the county courthouse steps were not camping ban violations. They were misdemeanors for violating state Penal Code §647e, which prohibits “illegal lodging”—a citation that falls under the umbrella of “disturbing the peace,” including such acts as public intoxication and prostitution.

“What basically happened is [police officers] went looking for a law that they could use as a tool to break up this protest,” argues Lemaster’s attorney, Jonathan Gettleman. “But ‘lodge’ is a very vague term. To say, ‘to lodge in a public place without the permission of the county’ sounds a whole lot like, ‘if we don’t like what you’re saying then we can just tell you you’re lodged there and if you don’t leave we can arrest you.’”

How Tolerant?

Assistant District Attorney Alex Byers prosecuted Lemaster and, at the sentencing, made his position clear: “We’re not here because of homeless problems. We’re here because of the rule of law…This is a very tolerant town. But tolerance has limits.

“You don’t get to break the law because you disagree with it,” he continued, adding that Peace Camp 2010 was a public health issue that interfered with courthouse employees’ ability to get to work. “Everyone saw the deterioration of what was happening out there…And if there’s a lesson to be learned it’s to at least attempt to work within the system, not outside the system.”

Lemaster argues that she rarely spent the night at Peace Camp and, in fact, worked to make the event safer. “What I was doing there was a lot of cleanup and caregiving,” she said.

Nonetheless, Judge Rebecca Connolly sentenced Lemaster to community service and six months of probation. “You wanted to highlight issues of homelessness,” Connolly told Lemaster in court, “and by doing that committed civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is making a conscious decision to break a law.”

Connolly granted Lemaster a stay on her sentence because Gettleman plans to appeal her case. He says he plans to challenge the constitutionality of §647e altogether and argue that the officers on the scene violated Lemaster’s First Amendment right to free speech.

“In the 24 years that Lt. Plageman had been a county sheriff’s officer he had never before used [§647e],” says Gettleman, who worries that if Lemaster loses the appeal it will give county law enforcement free reign to use the law more liberally in the future to break up protests.

 

Restricted Areas

Local attorney and homeless advocate Ed Frey, who received the same citation as Lemaster at Peace Camp 2010, says he is not hopeful for her in the appeals process. He says he and five other protestors who underwent trial for illegal lodging in 2011 already tried to argue against it on constitutional grounds, to no avail.

Local homeless advocates see Lemaster’s situation as representative of what they say is a conspiracy against the local homeless population and the citizens’ rights to freedom of expression.

Some argue that even city planners are in on it.  Attorney Kate Wells, who has also been volunteering to help defend Lemaster, argued at a recent CTV panel that the city’s downtown sidewalk kiosks are, in fact, “barriers to make it impossible to have any sort of meeting area.”

“In Santa Cruz, all of our rights are subject to time, place and manner restrictions,” she said.

No jail time for Santa Cruz County woman convicted of unlawfully lodging during Peace Camp 2010 demonstration – ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Jessica M. Pasko

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   12/06/2012SANTA CRUZ — An advocate for the homeless convicted last month of illegal lodging won’t serve jail time, a Santa Cruz County judge ruled Thursday.

Linda Lemaster could have faced up to six months in County Jail for her conviction of one count of unlawful lodging, a misdemeanor. Judge Rebecca Connolly chose to sentence her to six months on a conditional sentence and ordered her to pay $590 in fines and fees, which she said could be paid through community service hours instead. A conditional sentence is essentially like probation except through the court rather than the county’s probation department.

Jurors found Lemaster had violated the law by staying outside the county courthouse on Aug. 10, 2010 along with people participating in the Peace Camp demonstration, which was aimed at protesting the city’s anti-camping ban. At trial, Lemaster testified that she hadn’t been sleeping outside that night and that she had no intention of doing so.

She and her attorneys maintained that she stayed at the courthouse that night to look after a demonstrator who was ill. Because of her chronic back problems, she said, she was at least partially lying down when deputies arrived and someone had placed a blanket over her.

Prosecutor Alex Byers on Thursday acknowledged Lemaster’s work on behalf of the homeless, but said “we’re not here today because of homeless problems.”

“It’s sad, anyone with a heart considers that,” Byers said, but added, “It’s about the law. Santa Cruz is a very tolerant place but that tolerance has limits.”

The tolerance doesn’t extend to situations where the right to demonstrate infringes upon the rights of others, he said, explaining that the three-month long demonstration brought health risks, property damage and limited access to the county offices for the public. It also cost taxpayers for cleanup and security costs, he said.

“You don’t get to break the law because you don’t agree with it,” the prosecutor said.

Under state law, a person “who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it,” can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Byers did not ask for jail time, instead proposing Connolly sentence Lemaster to 40 hours of community service and a three-year conditional sentence.

Lemaster told the court she thought her trial had focused too much on the entire Peace Camp 2010 demonstration rather than on her individual actions. She said that while she accepts the consequences of her actions, she believes the ultimate responsibility lies with the government, which has failed to take care of its people and presented the need for such demonstrations.

Lemaster’s supporters filled the courtroom for the Thursday afternoon sentencing hearing.

“The principles on which this case stood are clearly very important to the community,” defense attorney Jonathan Gettleman said.

Gettleman said the idea of community service as a sentence for Lemaster was “ironic” given that his client’s life revolves around providing services to the community and working for society’s most vulnerable.

Connolly acknowledged the real issues involved with homelessness, but said that Lemaster’s act of civil disobedience was her choice and it carries consequences.

“I do appreciate the efforts made … it served as a vehicle to challenge the constitutionality of the law,” she said.

Gettleman said he plans to appeal the conviction.

COMMENTS

by Becky Johnson

Showing how capricious and arbitrary the District Attorney’s office has become, in May 2011, a different judge sentenced 2 men convicted of the same “lodging” charge with 400 hours community service. When they refused, the Judge threw them both into jail for 6 months on the spot.

by Roy McAlister

Hey Becky, here’s the politically incorrect reality you’re overlooking….
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/men-women-prison-sentence-length-gender-gap_n_1874742.html

by Robert Norse · Top Commenter · 65 years old

Wild exaggerations about PC2010′s “damaging” activities were irrelevant and prejudicial, but apparently welcomed by Judge Connolly whose many biased decisions allowing prosecution material in after deadline, refusing to allow the defense to add the full context of Linda’s blog, and other errors will be addressed on appeal.
Meanwhile it was clear that the smear job the prosecution put on had nothing to do with Linda’s presence there but attempted to confuse the jury with the longer protest (which itself received no littering or vandalism citations, much less prosecutions).
The Sentinel writer might have noted that Linda testified under oath that she tried unsuccessfully to get clarity from the deputy who told her to leave whether she could still be there as a protester without “occupying” as presumably is guaranteed by the Constitution (and was allowed for others).
This trial was an ex post facto rubberstamping of deputy behavior in getting rid of a political protest without using a legitimate process or finding any real crime. Kind of familiar these days.

Lemaster Lodging trial turns into inquisition and hate-fest

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

November 9, 2012

Original Post

Linda Lemaster (left) attending one of many pre-trial hearings with supporters, Leslie and Kent, November 2, 2012 for a “lodging” ticket she got two years ago. Photo by Becky Johnsonby Becky Johnson

November 9, 2012
Santa Cruz, Ca. –  According to ADA Alex Byers, Linda Lemaster faces Six Months in Jail for the “crime”of sleeping/not sleeping on public/private property with /without possessions for a long/short period of time which can be intentional/unintentional, all subject to the “permission” of the “authority.”
  
Linda is on trial for PC 647 ( e ) or  illegal “lodging” under a little-used portion of the State code, which sheriff’s had not used before citing protestors at Peace Camp 2010.
According to Byers,  a protester with his/her sign attempting to peaceably assemble to seek redress of government grievances may do so:
ONLY where the govt. tells them they can.
ONLY when the govt. tells them they can.
And, apparently, NOT while sitting, lying down, or sleeping since these = lodging. And if a Sheriff tells you you can’t “lodge” then whatever you are doing is “lodging.” According to Byers, Sheriff’s didn’t need to prove a person was “lodging” in order to issue a citation. Only that they were “still there on the steps when sheriff’s came back.”

On the night of August 10th, as Linda Lemaster was cited for illegal lodging, Sheriff’s moved elderly, Collette Connolly off the steps. Here she collapses in exhaustion on her belongings a scant 50 feet from the courthouse. Why Sheriff’s told us the steps of the courthouse were illegal at 4:30AM but the parking lot was not was only one of the many arbitrary and confusing encounters Peace Camp 2010 had with law enforcement. Photo by Becky Johnson

Oh, THAT’s a convenient definition of the code! When a sheriff hands you an unsigned piece of paper, then, according to Byers, that person “has been educated”that they no longer have the right to carry a sign, to protest, or to seek redress of government grievances.  And if a protester wants to publicly assemble? They must follow “time, place, and manner restrictions” which are not written in the law anywhere.
Christopher Doyon a.k.a. “X” of Peace Camp 2010 pauses on the lower steps at Peace Camp 2010. In the background, Ed Frey’s white, pick-up truck can be seen hitched to the camp porto-pottie. Other than Ed’s privy, homeless people had no access to a bathroom at night other than at Peace Camp 2010. Photo by Becky Johnson July 30, 2010
For ADA Alex Byers, camping = lodging except that “camping” is not illegal in that particular location under County Code.
While camping is , according to Byers, essentially the same thing, “lodging” rates 6 months in jail and/or a $1000 fine. And CAMPING is legal in the location where Linda was cited.   Committing the same crime in the City (and Lemaster WAS in the City when she was cited) rates a $92 citation or 8 hours of community service as a possible consequence. So why did the sheriff’s use the statewide “lodging” code rather than the County’s camping code or the City’s Sleeping and Blanket ban?
According to ADA, Alex Byers, it was due to “tolerance.”
Those at Peace Camp 2010 know better. The plucky little group had discovered that the County’s camping ban does not apply to the grounds around the courthouse and government center. In other words “camping” is legal there. Also, due to jurisdictional agreements, City police do not patrol the grounds at the Government Center. Sheriff’s opted to not enforce City codes against Sleeping and using  blankets. Codes that are all infractions, violations of which do not include jail. These were the twin laws the protest had assembled to challenge.
On July 29th, 2010, Ed Frey received a letter from County Counsel, Dana McCrae. She informed Frey that city ordinances ARE enforceable at the County Center, since it is within the City limits.  The SENTINEL reported that the reason no citations had yet been issued was because government officials, law enforcement officers and legal experts (had to) sort out what rules apply to the property.”

Peace Camp 2010 used public space which is unused at night. This photo taken on July 20th at 8:13PM shows people setting up bedding. At 8:00AM, Ed Frey would drive the porto-pottie off of the property and normal use of the facilities would commence.  Photo by Becky Johnson

Around the end of July,  County Counsel, Dana McCrae dusted off the lawbooks and dug up a code which used language lifted from an 1880 law in California designed to keep freed slaves from moving into the State. Judges Gallagher and in this trial, Connolly further eroded civil rights by creating a definition which lifts language from the 1851 Indiana State Constitution which states:  “No Negro or Mulatto shall come into, or settle in, the State…”

The new definition of lodging which Judge Rebecca Connolly approved: “To occupy a place temporarily or permanently, or temporarily settle or to live in a place, it may, but does not have to include sleeping. It means more than just sleeping and less than moving into a place permanently.”

Byers told jurors of the flyer sheriff’s passed out willy-nilly to anyone who wanted one: The flyer only stated you are illegally lodging without permission. Merely telling Petitioner or anyone else that they are lodging or that they do not have the owner’s permission in no way clarifies what lodging means or how one can avoid it. In this circumstance “to lodge” illegally appears to have meant to the deputies- to further physically occupy space in any manner on the steps of the Santa Cruz County courthouse.

Sheriff’s deputies stopped calling what we were doing as “camping” and started to accuse us of “lodging.” We knew something was coming. About a week later, sheriff’s handed out this flyer which had no letterhead, was unsigned, and unconvincing in its text as part of their “Education phase.”  –Photo by Becky Johnson Aug 7 2010
THE COUNTY’S PLAN
Byers told jurors about a 2-phased Plan to get the protesters to leave the location.
–Education phase followed by an Enforcement phase.
“Lt. Plageman testified that they weren’t’ interfering with the right to protest.
Their goal was to stop people from the intent of the protest which was to violate
the law.” He told jurors that flyers were handed out in the following way:  “If you were lying down, you were sleeping, you were violating the law. At 4:30AM, they were already lodging when the
Sheriffs deputies arrived. They were already breaking the law.”
Sounds like a slam-dunk.
So does the “law” outlaw lying down, or sleeping? No. PC 647( e ) outlaws “lodging”
but that word is not defined anywhere in the code. In 2011, at the Peace Camp Six
trial, Judge John Gallagher made up a definition by looking at old codes and
a dictionary.  Judge Rebecca Connolly has made up a new definition. In neither
case, were any of the defendants allowed access to either definition of lodging
when cited two years ago.
“The dictionary includes 14 different definitions of “lodging,” Defense Attorney Jonathon Gettleman quickly added in.
jurors don’t know that defendants (and their attorneys) have challenged that
Byers showed some really dark and grainy videos which roughly show a mess. John Valley’s voice can be heard and the sound of Linda coughing.  Even worse, he paints the protest as characterized as “junk all over”, none of which has ANYTHING to do with Linda Lemaster. Linda was wide awake at 11PM with no bedding. That, at 4:30AM, sheriff’s came and found her sitting up and looking sleepy, doesn’t mean a crime was committed.
Byers asserted more claims that I doubt are true.
“No one is allowed to lodge on the steps of the courthouse at night.” Huh? Lodging isn’t defined as an activity done at night only. And when Linda Lemaster was there at 4:30AM, she wasn’t trespassing. The courthouse steps were a legal public place to be (at the time. Since this has been changed by County administration to make it a crime to BE THERE between 7PM and 7AM).

Santa Cruz wins Nazi salute case against Robert Norse

J.M. Brown

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   11/07/2012

SAN JOSE — A federal jury on Wednesday found in favor of Santa Cruz city officials who more than a decade ago ejected a longtime critic from a public meeting for making a mock Nazi salute and had him arrested when he refused to leave.

Former Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice said the 8-0 verdict shows “we acted with integrity” when he and then-Mayor Christopher Krohn sought the removal of activist Robert Norse from a March 2002 meeting. Norse was ejected and arrested again nearly two years later after another series of events that council members viewed as disruptive.

“I knew we presented the best case we possibly could,” Fitzmaurice said.

Norse’s attorney, David Beauvais, said he would file a motion for a new trial within two weeks, saying the evidence predominantly proved Norse was well within his First Amendment rights to make the salute. If the judge denies the request for a new trial, Beauvais said he would evaluate the judge’s reasoning before determining whether to appeal further.

Beauvais and co-counsel Kate Wells attempted to convince jurors during the four-day trial that city officials singled Norse out for punishment because they were annoyed by his unrelenting criticism of their policies concerning the homeless.

“The implications of this are that anybody on the council that doesn’t like anything going on can declare they are disturbed,” Beauvais said of the verdict. “It effectively removes the First Amendment right to the content of the message.”

Norse made the salute after Krohn stopped a woman from speaking once a public comment period had ended. Although Krohn didn’t see the gesture, Fitzmaurice brought it to his attention and asked that Norse be made to leave. The mayor agreed and stopped the meeting after Norse refused to go, which prompted his arrest and jailing for five hours.

In January 2004, the late Scott Kennedy, who was then mayor, ejected Norse after he argued with Kennedy’s order to leave. Kennedy warned Norse that participating in a protest parade around the Council Chamber was disruptive and warned him again for whispering to an acquaintance.

The two incidents were consolidated for the proceedings before U.S. District Court Ronald Whyte, who had earlier dismissed Norse’s claims and was initially backed up by the 9th District Court of Appeal. However, another appellate panel ordered the judge to hear evidence — a ruling that stood after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the matter.

The city’s attorney, George Kovacevich said Wednesday the verdict affirms constitutional protections on the proper time, place and manner for First Amendment expression.

“This is not a place for protests,” Kovacevich said Wednesday. “It’s a place to dialogue with the council and discuss issues.”

One juror was from Aptos but the others were from communities over the hill. Beauvais said he learned by talking to a juror that one of them thought the city may have discriminated against Norse’s views and held out for several hours before agreeing with the majority.

The city faced the possibility of paying about $300,000 in legal bills from Norse’s attorneys and about $30,000 in damages, Kovacevich said. If the city is ultimately successful, it may seek reimbursement for some of its costs, which equal at least $150,000.