Lighthouse Linda Lemaster Trial

Linda Lemaster, chair of the former Homeless Issues Task Force and long-time homeless activist, goes to jury trial on Tuesday, November 6th at 8:30 AM (jury selection begins Monday November 5th at 8:30 AM) in Dept. 1 at 701 Ocean St.  She is charged with PC 647e, an archaic state “anti-lodging” law for sitting on the steps of the courthouse in August 2010 in solidarity with PeaceCamp2010 homeless protesters, peacefully demonstrating against the City’s homeless Sleeping Ban.

Appeals Judge Upholds Anti-Homeless “Lodging” Law Against “Lighthouse” Linda Lemaster –

“Lighthouse” Linda Lemaster’s blog –

Lemaster Lodging Trial Nears –

Yes, I’m Guilty –

Sentinal article – Trial date set in case of Santa Cruz Peace Camp protester – – HUFF Blog post of article with comments here.

Sentinel article – SC County Woman Convicted –

SC Weekly article – Activist Lemaster Sentenced For Illegal Lodging –

Former Santa Cruz mayors stand by ouster of advocate over Nazi salute

J.M. Brown

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   11/01/2012SAN JOSE — Two former Santa Cruz mayors who testified Thursday in a free-speech lawsuit stood by their push to eject a City Council critic who made a Nazi salute.

Tim Fitzmaurice and Christopher Krohn told a federal jury the gesture disrupted a March 2002 meeting because activist Robert Norse, who was arrested after refusing to leave, meant to communicate with the council, however quick and quiet, after a public comment period had ended.

“It’s silence was irrelevant to me,” Fitzmaurice said. “It was an attempt at disrupting the meeting, which is Mr. Norse’s usual activity.”

The former city officials portrayed the 65-year-old advocate for the homeless as a chronic agitator who pushed the boundaries of decorum. Norse’s attorneys tried to show city leaders singled him out, violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights to expression and arrest with probable cause, because they resented his persistent derision.

Norse has said his irritation with Fitzmaurice stemmed from a promise to reform the city’s ban on sleeping in public between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. But Fitzmaurice rebutted that Thursday, “I never said ‘I’m running on softening the laws for homeless people,’ explicitly or directly.”

Norse made the salute after then-Mayor Krohn stopped a woman from speaking. Norse was arrested again in January 2004 after participating in a protest parade around the Council Chamber and refusing to leave after questioning then-Mayor Scott Kennedy’s admonition of him for whispering to a friend.

The cases were consolidated for the proceedings that got under way this week after an appellate panel ordered the long-delayed matter to trial. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte said jurors will hear during closing arguments next week how much financial compensation Norse will seek from Krohn, Fitzmaurice and the city. Kennedy died in 2011.


After Norse began regularly attending meetings, several other witnesses said the city tightened rules on public participation, including ending a provision that allowed citizens to pull items from the council’s consent agenda for discussion — a tool Norse often used to give unrelated speeches. Citizens must now get a council member to pull an item.

“There was less and less opportunity for Robert to speak, and less and less opportunity for the general public to speak,” said Scott Graham, a frequent attendee who, like others, said the council punished Norse for actions others committed without penalty.

Activist Coral Brune testified she also was warned by Kennedy for taking part in the 2004 parade and sat down in the gallery. She said city staff and others, unlike Norse, were not punished for talking to each other during the meeting.

“I’ve never seen that happen before,” she said.


Norse’s attorneys tried to show it was the council’s own reactions to Norse that created disruptions.

“Other than you complaining, how did this disrupt the meeting?” attorney David Beauvais asked Fitzmaurice about the salute.

“It did disrupt the meeting because Norse was trying to draw attention to himself,” said Fitzmaurice, who brought the salute to Krohn’s attention.

Krohn acknowledged he did not see the gesture and was not personally disrupted by it. But he said it created a disruption because Fitzmaurice deemed it out of order.

Fitzmaurice, who at the time served on the American Civil Liberties Union’s local board, said he would not have seen Norse’s salute as out of order if he had made it during public comment.

But he also acknowledged he would not call someone out of order for applauding the council or giving them a thumbs-up outside of the public comment period. He said those actions would not disrupt a meeting.

“It was a fairly specific kind of message to me that (Norse) assumed, because it was so explosive, it would require a response to it,” Fitzmaurice said.

Robert Norse tells federal jury city suppressed critics

J.M. Brown

Santa Cruz Sentinel:   10/31/2012SAN JOSE — Ten years after filing a First Amendment lawsuit against Santa Cruz officials, Robert Norse finally got his day in court Wednesday, testifying that a mock Nazi salute he made during a public meeting did not cause the disruption that led to his arrest.

The longtime Santa Cruz City Council critic and advocate for the homeless told a federal jury he made the gesture during a March 2002 meeting after then-Mayor Christopher Krohn silenced a speaker and closed a public comment period early. Norse refused Krohn’s order to leave and was taken to jail for more than five hours, later released with no charges filed.

The 65-year-old Norse, who has long sought to overturn a city ban on camping in public overnight, said the council had a history of suppressing critics. By leaving the meeting, Norse said he would have made his supporters lose hope.

“If you begin to surrender your rights in those circumstances, where does it stop?” he asked.

George Kovacevich, the city’s lawyer, tried to paint Norse on cross examination as a chronic agitator, noting he had spoken 271 times at council meetings between 1999 and 2005. Norse acknowledged he often walked around during meetings, talking to other people, and once took a pie to the face during a skit designed to criticize council members.

“This is not really a case about a Nazi salute or a case about protesting,” Kovacevich told the jury of four women and four men. “It’s about who controls the meeting. This is a case that will show Mr. Norse can’t stand that he doesn’t have control.”

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte, who first dismissed the matter a decade ago, was ordered to hold a trial by a rare 11-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, which overturned an earlier ruling backing Whyte’s original decision. The city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, but the high court declined a review.

The case is consolidated with a 2004 arrest after Norse participated in a parade around the Council Chamber. After re-entering the room and whispering to someone, then-Mayor Scott Kennedy ordered him to leave after he challenged a request to take the conversation outside.

The city has spent an estimated $150,000 fighting Norse and, if it loses, faces the likelihood of paying him unspecified financial damages and covering his attorney’s fees. Norse had offered to settle if the city reforms rules governing meeting decorum and the camping ban, which bars sleeping outside, in a vehicle, or under a structure from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Norse’s testimony revealed that his long-running battle with the city over homelessness created the tense backdrop for his appearances at meetings. Even though the 2002 council was one of the most progressive, Norse was unhappy with progress on reversing measures he views as criminalizing homelessness and panhandling.

During the 2002 meeting, after Krohn asked frequent grandstander Mike Tomassi to leave, a woman approached the podium to speak but was told to sit down. After she relented, Norse told the jury, he raised his arm to say, “You’re acting in a very authoritarian manner. You’re acting like fascists.”

Norse said he is Jewish and does not subscribe to Nazi ideals. He acknowledged he made the gesture with his left arm, not his right, as is Nazi custom.

Then-Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice, who Norse said had failed on a promise to reform the camping ban, noticed the salute, brought it to Krohn’s attention and asked that Norse be removed. Norse’s lawyers argue it was Fitzmaurice who caused the disruption by stopping the meeting.

After Krohn ordered Norse to leave, Norse sat down in defiance and was later arrested by a police officer. A court eventually dismissed he officer from the suit.

Video of the 2002 and 2004 incidents were played for jurors Wednesday. In an effort to establish damages, Norse said the arrest made him scared to attend meetings and caused him to lose sleep and work time.

Steve Hartman, a former conservative radio host, and former Community TV cameraman Mark Halfmoon testified they were at the 2002 meeting and did not believe the salute made a disruption.

Hartman, who now resides in Montana, flew in to testify for just a few moments, saying he was opposed to Norse’s politics but believed his actions were within his First Amendment rights. The city’s lawyer did not cross examine either witness.

Fitzmaurice and Krohn are slated to be questioned by Norse’s attorneys Thursday.

Trial date set in case of Santa Cruz Peace Camp protester Linda Ellen Lemaster


Santa Cruz Sentinel:   07/06/2012

SANTA CRUZ – A trial date of Oct. 15 was set Friday for Linda Ellen Lemaster, a community activist involved in a controversial homeless protest in 2010 on the steps of Santa Cruz County Superior Court and City Hall.

Lemaster, a homeless activist and projects facilitator for the Santa Cruz group Housing Now!, is charged with illegal lodging for her participation in the demonstration. The protest, called “Operation Peace Camp 2010,” gathered activists opposing parts Santa Cruz’s camping ban.

The occupation comprised a group of more than 50 people who slept and held signs on the courthouse steps. It lasted three months, before deputies began warning, ticketing and arresting protesters under a criminal misdemeanor law for unlawful lodging.

Lemaster appeared in court with friends Friday. Her attorney Jonathan Gettleman said he filed a writ of habeas corpus with the 6th District Court of Appeals in San Jose. The 53-page writ requests the court to hear and dismiss Lemaster’s case, linking it to the protection of freedom of speech under the First Amendment.

“This matter is very serious as far as we’re concerned,” Gettleman said. “This case could really injure people’s ability to engage in protests.”

Gettleman said the illegal lodging law was misused to put an end to the protest and violated the constitutional right of people to assemble peacefully and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Gettleman said he not only hopes to clear Lemaster, but also to make the illegal lodging law unconstitutional. The federal court should decide whether to hear the case in the next few months, before the beginning of the Santa Cruz trial in October.

In a previous case related to the protest, two other activists, Ed Frey and Gary Johnson, were sentenced to six months in County Jail last October.



In response to a critic who wrote:

“People could protest from dawn to dusk every day till they die and never run afoul of this law.”
  • Linda Ellen Lemaster·

    “this law”? If you mean the california pc 647(e), illegal lodging, for which I was cited, youa re mistaken – it does not distinguish between daytime and nighttime. This is one of the many reasons which I believe calls for better accountability by the County (Sheriff’s dept and beyond). because “Lodging” (illegal or otherwiise), as spelled out in California’s laws, does NOT mean “sleeping”. What does it mean? Depends on what “legal authority” one asks. Personally, I may agree that a daytime venue could have worked out better for everyone than a 24/7 demo? Or not: after all we were trying to demonstrate how DIFFERENTLY the displaced homeless population must live, in part due to our dated laws.That demonstration had a time it was daytime only, and a time it was 24/7, reflecting different leadership. But there were problems with each. Problems that warrant selecting out political scapegoats? Or was that an accident? Or just acceptable collatoral damage in our Country’s Reign of Terror against displaced homeless people? Maybe, if we are lucky, the courts can do some actual good, here?

  • Becky Johnson·

    Look at you. You’ve already given up your RIGHT to protest between dusk and dawn. Way to surrender your 1st amendment rights which exist 24/7 despite your surrender. Also: you are WRONG. Lodging is enforced 24 hours a day, so they can still arrest you if they continue to use this overbroad and undefined “crime”.

In response to another critic who wrote:

“Santa Cruz Peace Camp – that’s rich. Site of muggings, arrests, assaults, drunkedness, littering, vandalism, and thefts. BumFest by any other name.”
  • Linda Ellen Lemaster

    Doug, I did not mug you, arrest you, assault you, get you drunk, leave litter in your path (quite the opposite), vandalize anything you or anyone else brought there — nor did I vandalize the cement or grass, not even a chalk or soot mark by me — and I did not steal during PeaceCamp2010. And I am not a bum. There were a LOT of differing people there throughout PeaceCamp2010. It wasn’t over-run with such as you describe until after the City and County razed the riverbank greenery and displaced fifty MORE homeless people. I agree if you’re saying the demonstration was unpopular, I understand if you’re saying it was an aesthetic disappointment. But I’m not sure that’s your point. I thought “bumfest” was specifically about exploiting homeless folks by getting them to fight and betting on them like roosters, except it’s illegal with roosters? Maybe we just have different meanings for “rich”? I can deal with facing my consequences for this alleged crime, but are you saying I should be responsible for the behavior of other people, of people you, yourself, are NOT responsible for?

  • Becky Johnson·

    Yet not a single littering ticket was issued in over 3 months of the protest. I doubt you can say the same about the beach in front of the Boardwalk!

Four charged with taking over River Street building make first court appearance

Cathy KellySanta Cruz Sentinel:   02/21/2012

SANTA CRUZ – Four men appeared in court Tuesday to face charges stemming from the takeover late last year of a vacant River Street bank building – including longtime homeless rights activist Robert Norse, who came to court dressed in a blue bath robe with a teddy bear affixed to his waist between the robe and its sash.

Grant Garioch Wilson, Franklin Cruz Alcantara and Bradley Stuart Allen pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of vandalism and conspiracy and two misdemeanor trespassing charges.

The arraignment for Norse, named in court documents as Robert Norris Kahn, was continued to Feb. 29 after he asked Judge Ariadne Symons for time to hire an attorney.

Norse also asked the judge about her instructions to “cooperate” with police in the meantime, saying he operates a “cop watch” program that could be construed as some type of interference with police.

“That doesn’t sound like a problem,” Symons assured him.

The other three men were appointed attorneys and Symons ordered them back for a March 5 preliminary hearing.

Attorney Art Dudley, who represents Alcantara, also asked for clarification of what “cooperation” with police entailed.

The judge said he was to obey police orders and not run from them or lie to them.

Allen’s attorney, Ben Rice, asked for a hearing to reconsider a condition set by Symons that Allen stay away from the River Street building. The hearing was scheduled for Friday.

Outside court, Rice said his client works as a photojournalist, but that he could not further discuss the grounds for challenging the order.

The men are among 11 charged in connection with a nearly three-day occupation of the building.

The others are Cameron Stephens Laurendeau, Becky Johnson, Brent Elliott Adams, Desiree Christine Foster, Edward Rector, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps and Alex Darocy.

The District Attorney’s Office announced the charges Feb. 8, after weeks of investigating who was involved in occupying the former Coast Commercial Bank. The building is owned Barry Swenson Builders, records show.

On Nov. 30, a group describing itself as an “anonymous, autonomous group acting in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz” burst into 75 River St. declaring they would turn into a community center. The group left the building peacefully after about 72 hours, marked by numerous negotiations with police, including an initial confrontation with officers in riot gear.

In announcing the charges, District Attorney Bob Lee said his office “remains committed to enforcing the law, protecting private and public property and holding people accountable for the destruction and illegal occupation of property.”

In an editorial submission in the Sentinel Sunday, Norse said the activists at the vacant bank had a posted no vandalism policy. He stated that those charged are “largely if not entirely alternative media journalists who regularly and sympathetically report police repression; including several bloggers, two photojournalists, a radio broadcaster, and several spokespeople.” (NOTE: The greater portion of this is missing from the online article, starting from the third word in the second sentence!…Media tampering, perhaps?)