Familiar anti-homeless language like “nuisance crime” and illegal behavior” are the usual code words for harassing and expelling homeless people from public spaces in a city with no available shelter for hundreds.
The proposed law will include not just anyone within 300′ of a school, but anyone in any of the following parks as well as any adjacent sidewalks and public spaces: Arana Gulch Neary Lagoon Depot Park Poets Beach Flats Park Harvey West Park Pogonip (Open Space) Louden Nelson Park Sergeant Derby Park Mission Plaza Park Star of the Sea Park Moore Creek (Open Space) University Terrace Park .
If you’re given a citation–even it’s unjustified, and dropped short of court–you are banned from the area (and other prior areas if you’ve received citations there) for 72 hours.
Since 2013, the use of “we don’t need to charge you in court” Stay-Away orders, have systematically and specifically impacted if not targeted homeless folks.
The “crime wave” being addressed is the usual: sleeping, being in a park after dark, smoking. Hundreds of citations and stay away orders were issued to folks
No actual specifics regarding these “crimes” are provided in the staff report. Nor are there any particulars of the great threat to the schools that is used to label this grotesque expansion of police power.
It also provides massive police powers too criminalize protesters, particularly homeless ones.
Second reading will be required which may give folks a little organizing time to speak against it in two weeks when it reappears for a rubberstamping.
There are many more details which I’m hoping to expand on in a future story.
TO COMMENT GO TO: https://www.indybay.org/
DARKER SIGNS OF THE TIMES
In his latest attack on peaceful protesters and unhoused folks. the powerful City Manager Martin (pronounced Mar-TEEN) Bernal has made sitting, lying, and setting down one’s property on the courtyard outside City Hall a $250 crime. Their mere presence there on the weekends or outside office hours can result in a similar fine. The new green signs went up eight days ago. According to some homeless folks, City law enforcement teams have even been (llegally) insisting that being on the sidewalk in front of City Hall is a crime. See https://www.facebook.com/
“Survival sleepers”, a group increased with numerous elderly and disabled men and women refugees from the closed Winter Shelter program–have been sleeping on the edges of City Hall for nearly two months now. “Bums Begone!” Bernal locked the previously-open City Hall bathrooms and then used complaints of poo poo and pee pee found on the grounds to justify a “no trespass” order. The City hall has been traditionally public space, not to mention the center of government where folks thought they had a First Amendment right to gather peacefully to seek a redress of grievances.
Bernal’s latest “bumbuster” ban is only one of a long series of anti-homeless measures at City Hall. See “5 Citations and New “No Trespassing” Zone Closes City Hall Grounds at Night 10 PM to 6 AM” at https://www.indybay.org/
DISPERSE THE DISABLED !
The population of folks staying there overnight have been driven out of other areas where the act of sitting and lying down, day and night, is frequently treated as a crime. Many of these folks are elderly and disabled–with no emergency shelter, no nighttime bathrooms, spotty daytime meals, and shrunken services. Santa Cruz’s unsheltered population (the City alone) is 1000-2000.
The overwhelming majority don’t even have temporary shelter under recent “Smart Solutions” and “compassion fatigue” that seek to make Santa Cruz “less welcome”. The Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC], for instance, discontinued emergency services 2 years ago (such as shelter and food) under the grant-grabbing a “Pathway to Housing” requirement. The HLOSC now looks like a low-intensity prison camp with gates, fences, security patrols, ID cards, and a “move along” attitude.
SUCCESSFUL FREEDOM SLEEPER MOVEMENT
The two-year long Freedom Sleeper campaign to end the City’s 11 PM to 8:30 AM anti-homeless Sleeping Ban has pressured the City into abandoning MC 6.36.010a tickets for sleep at least in front of the sidewalks at City Hall on Tuesday nights when they gathered in small but persistent numbers.
With police driving away unhoused folks from the protective corridors outside City Hall into the rain and wind over the last month, the Survivor Sleepers have taken to the sidewalks as well.
If you can’t make it to the Emergency Meeting today at 6 PM, Contact Keith and Abbi at 575-770-3377 to provide immediate support for the Survival Sleepers–now facing a round-the-clock attack, designed to drive them at the Freedom Sleepers from City Hall and expand “no homeless” zones outside the library and elsewhere in the city.
Leave your comments and questions at 831-423-4833.
If you missed the Sunday show, it ran too long for the normal archive (http://radiolibre.org/brb/
DateFriday May 12
Time6:00 PM – 6:00 AM
Location Details 809 Center St. City Hall Courtyard and Sidewalk along Center St
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (posting by Norse)
The City Manager, Martín Bernal made a number of policy changes that will have an impact on those without housing all across Santa Cruz, the Freedom Sleepers and the Survival Sleepers at City Hall.
The City of Santa Cruz has made it illegal to be at City Hall from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM Monday through Friday and has closed all of the City Hall grounds on Saturday and Sunday. The signs posted this morning also ban amplified sound without a permit, personal property on sidewalks, walls or pathways, bicycles or sitting, lying on sidewalks, walls, pathways or courtyard areas. There are reports that these policies will be enforced at a number of other city buildings in Santa Cruz.
Library staff have also reported that City Manager, Martín Bernal will be removing the benches outside the library and stationing two or more police officers at City Hall.
The Freedom Sleepers campaign inspired an attempt by Councilpersons Don Lane and Micah Posner to seek a change in the camping ban in March 2016 to make it legal to sleep outside, ending the law that made it a crime to sleep outside or in a vehicle from 11:00 PM to 8:30 AM.
Their proposed change failed to gain enough votes. In response to pressure from the Freedom Sleepers the council did create a Homelessness Coordinating Committee whose report was introduced at the May 9, 2017 City Council meeting.
Local unhoused people started their own nightly protest at City Hall the night after the Winter Shelter closed who are referred to as the Survival Sleepers.
Signs stating that it is illegal to participate in the activities of the protest were posted this morning at City Hall. More signs restricting the homeless were placed at the Downtown Library this afternoon.
To see the new posted restrictions go to https://www.facebook.com/
PLEASE JOIN US WITH VIDEO AND AUDIO EVEN IF YOU CAN’T STAY THE NIGHT!
Please contact Keith McHenry at 575-770-3377
Yesterday former Councilmember Micah Posner posted an appeal for folks to come to a protest march and sleepout on Tuesday May 9th, beginning at the County Building at 3:30 PM, going to the main Post Office and its anti-homeless fence, and arriving at City Council at 5 PM in time for Oral Communications. At 7 PM City Council will have an evening session billed as a consideration of a Homelessness Study. Human rights supporters are encouraged to bring bags, blankets, and nightwear into City Council for a sleep-out later that night.
To read Posner’s thoughts, go to his article “Homelessness: Our Failure As A Society” at https://www.indybay.org/
My article below is a comment on his.
Much of the anti-homeless legislation, priorities, and attitudes in the last thirty years can be traced to an entrenched reactionary staff headed by City Manager Bernal, City Attorney Condotti (and before him Barisone), and other department heads who earn the big bucks. To excuse their behavior is to justify and perpetuate the abuses against poor people outside.
A PHONY REPORT
The Final Report of the Homelessness Coordinating Committee on the Council’s May 9th Evening Agenda is a bad joke. [http://scsire.
A better report is the Final Report of the Santa Cruz City Homeless Issues Task Force – at http://sccounty01.co.santa-
Mayor Chase’s report is fluffed up with flowery and political correct blather about “ending homelessness” through “smart solutions”, more future plans, shifting responsibility to the County, and other false hopes. It is a complete facade that attempts to cover over and divert our attention from the actual behavior of city authorities towards unhoused folks to the glistening good intentions of two-faced politicos. To afford it any credibility and waste time “discussing” it is to play into the hands of those whose interest is in getting rid of the visible homeless, pandering to neighborhood bigots, and serving merchant interests. I.e. shifting the focus from what they’re doing to what they’re saying. Preserving the status quo.
It’s also a small clue, that the three Councilmembers who cooked up the report all voted last March to maintain the absurd and abusive 11 PM – 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban and have not changed their position.
WELL-MANNERED ACTIVISTS DON’T MAKE HERSTORY
As for the idea of “making nice” with the Council on Tuesday night (or thereafter).
Consider City Council’s recent history of almost continuous expansion of anti-homeless legislation, its contraction of support for shelter space (i.e. ignoring the conversion of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center into a Homeless Prison/GrantGrabber), and its support of police mythology criminalizing homelessness and propagandizing the community with “public safety” nonsense and measures (closing the levee, intensifying Parks and Rec powers, winking at Bernal and Vogel’s attacks on activists).
It’s important that the community be made aware of this, not misled into believing that the Council is actually doing anything real or planning to do something real. The community has to be spurred to understand the legitimacy of outrage, and the need to ACT on that outrage. That is done by clearly defining the issues –clarifying who are the heroes and who are the villains. Whose actions show themselves to be the enemies of reform, and those who are waging the struggle.
BRING BAGGAGE AND FRIENDS
We need to take sleeping bags and blankets into City Hall and lay them down.
I was told that two trucks hauled away houseless folks property from City Hall two days ago and disposed of sleeping gear, blankets, and cloth as “trash”.
There can be no meaningful dialogue until there is the power of visible commitment. I have my doubts about pretty speeches and a one-night sleep out having much impact. In fact, they may fit quite well into the Council’s “see how democratic we are!” stance as they send cops and rangers in the next day to steal survival gear from those who remain after we liberals have gone home.
The “incremental” approach failed a year ago (in the token Sleeping Ban repeal vote). The notion that being “moderate” will attract the timid and tame the Neanderthals is simply wrong here. The Democrats have been proving that for years on the national scene. It’s a form of surrender before the struggle has begun.
SUPPORT THE SURVIVAL SLEEPERS
Meanwhile Survival Sleepers at City Hall are taking the real heat while we engage in media posturing. It is their nightly struggle, however unpretty and unpopular with the powerful that needs to be supported. As long as they choose to make it. That’s where our energy needs to be going as best we can.
Contact HUFF at 831-423-4833 to offer help to the survival sleepers. Suggestions are at https://www.indybay.org/
A GOOD EXAMPLE
Black students up at UCSC have shown that direct action gets the goods.
And Reclaiming City Hall might be a very good start.
See you Tuesday night. With bag and bathrobe.
|Date||Tuesday April 25|
|Time||3:00 PM – 12:00 AM|
|Santa Cruz City Hall 809 Center Street, Santa Cruz|
FREEDOM SLEEPERS #94 – Sleep-out to end the sleeping ban – Please join us
Free food provided by Food Not Bombs and India Joze.
The campaign against the houseless of Santa Cruz is growing more repressive.
On Monday night April 17th the police came and kicked people out from under the city hall awning into the pouring rain during a very severe storm.
Wells Fargo Bank install “The Mosquito” high frequency box outside their downtown branch to drive people out from under their eves. They may have experienced an increase in people seeking shelter from the heavy rains from under their eves since the Anti-Homeless fence was placed around parts of the downtown Post Office. The city installed “The Mosquito” in several parks in the fall of 2014.
“The Mosquito” was placed under San Lorenzo River bridges downtown primarily to stop chronic illegal activity, Assistant City Manager Scott Collins said.
Abbi Samuels was arrested the night of April 13th while filming the police drive those seeking shelter under the City Hall awning out into the rain. She spent 18 and a half hours in jail before being freed without charges. Police and Rangers are confiscating survival blankets and sleeping bags even when spoken for or being watched by friends. Police even confiscated a broom and partially filled garbage bag and many pounds of survival gear from people at City Hall.
A few days later Park Rangers confiscated several pick-up trucks full of personal belongings at the Civic Auditorium as people looked on helpless to do anything. Freedom Sleepers Sleep-out #93 provides a view of the struggle facing those who are forced to live outside. Around 30 people slept outside Santa Cruz City Hall on the night of April 18 to 19, 2017.
Two Santa Cruz police officers arrived to City Hall at about 5:00 pm and arrested a person named Mark after he had gone up to the bike racks to retrieve his bicycle. He said he was arrested for violating a stay away order. Mark returned to City Hall to recover his backpack at about 11:30pm
Maile McGrew-Fredé hosted the All-In: A Community Seeks Solutions to Homelessness meeting at the Downtown Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library at 6:00pm. Over 30 people participated including several people who planned to sleep out at City Hall.
After the meeting ended Library staff shared that City Manager Martin Bernal was making several changes including the removal of the benches outside the library and the stationing of two police officer. The librarian also reported that the City Manager also planned to implement new restrictions to the area “like those at the Civic Auditorium” but these details were not clear.
After the All-In meeting members of the Freedom Sleepers gathered at city hall to plan a Tuesday, May 9th march from the County Building to the Downtown Post Office fence to City Hall agreeing on the message “HOUSING FOR ALL- No penalty for poverty” Eight Santa Cruz Police officers arrived around 2:00 am and issued 13.04.011 Park After Hours tickets and 13.08.100 24 Hour Vacate stay away orders to 4 people, three of which had been sleeping on red brick or under the City Hall awning. One of those people was very ill and had been throwing up during the night.
Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry was one of the people who got a ticket while he was filming the police waking sleeping people. They put him in cuffs while they gave him an in the park after hours ticket. They also gave him a 24 hour stay away order and told him they’d be coming back in the morning to arrest him for a misdemeanor when he violates the stay away order by trying to clean up and share food. All people that received tickets for in park after hours also received a stay away order. It was freezing out!
Two Rangers arrived soon after breakfast was served at about 7:30 am. All was peaceful until a city employee arrived on Center Street with a leaf blower. She walked up to a person sleeping near Locust Street and blew a burst of dirt into his face. Keith McHenry asked her to refrain from using the leaf blower to assault people but she did not respond. The employee walked towards the Church Street end of Center and blasted dirt and someones paper bowl of food into the face of a man sitting on the stone wall.
City Manager Martin Bernal is one of the central proponents of the wave of anti-homeless laws and policies. He is paid $216,158.90 per year by the people of Santa Cruz. Maybe we should go and wake him up at his 96 Brookwood Drive home.
3:30 PM County Building
5 PM City Hall
Throughout the Night: Inside and Outside City Hall
A protest and march calling for a commitment to house all residents will begin on the steps of the County Building at 3:30PM on Tuesday May 9th, continue to the Post Office (which recently fenced its grounds to prevent people without homes from having access) and arrive at City Hall at 5PM in time for oral communication. The County Building is at 701 Ocean Street in downtown Santa Cruz. The City Hall is 809 Center Street.
Activists are calling for local government to take steps to insure that housing is available at a reasonable rate, to provide emergency shelter for the houseless, and to decriminalize sleeping, among other measures.
Sherry (last name withheld to avoid persecution by City officials) has been sleeping at City Hall for a week since the winter shelter closed and left her without a place to be. “At least here,” she says, “I feel a little bit safer. It’s public and there are people around. Plus I like supporting other people who are in the same situation as me.”
Since Max doesn’t have another place to sleep anyway, his choice to sleep at City Hall is tactical, “I want them to see me here in the morning. I want them to see homeless people here until they do something about it.”
Rabbi Philip Posner was a freedom rider who spent 39 days in jail in Mississippi in 1961 as part of the civil rights movement. He views the treatment of the homeless as this generation’s call to conscience “A legal place to sleep is a human right. Criminalizing the homeless amounts to penalizing people for being poor.” Posner and his son Micah plan to sleep out at City Hall after the demonstration in solidarity. They are inviting people with and without homes to bring sleeping bags and join them in the unsanctioned act of sleeping on public property.
For more information contact:
Audrey Simmons: audreysimmons1995 [at] gmail.com. 805 540 8109
Steve Pleich: spleich [at] gmail.com. 831 466 6078
Keith McHenry: keith [at] foodnotbombs.net. 575-770-3377
Press Release by Micah Posner; Posting by Robert Norse
Looks like the threat of disinvestment from Granite Construction may have discouraged them from bidding for the anti-immigrant Trump wall on the border (Item #2 7 PM Agenda). Council may also support disinvestment from Wells Fargo for its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline (Item #3 7 PM Agenda). However at Tuesday night’s 4-25 Council meeting the Council will still be considering a “cost-effective” fence along the levee along with increased cops, surveillance cameras, and lighting to add to the “no loitering” enforcement, forbidden to sit rules, and high-pitched anti-homeless “Mosquito” boxes along the levee.
Agenda item #1 on the 7 PM Agenda of the last City Council meeting in April has the following item up for a vote:
Riverwalk Engagement Summit Results and Recommendations (CM)
Consider community stakeholder recommendations generated from the Riverwalk Engagement Summit, which include enhanced City leadership and coordination, improved amenities, revenue enhancement efforts and a coordinated community outreach and engagement plan to encourage greater public participation/activation on the Riverwalk and adjacent San Lorenzo Benchlands and Park.
TO READ THE STAFF REPORT: Go to item 1 on the evening agenda at http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.
The flowery language masks the reality: $138,000 for more cops and copcars (technically Rangers and their Rangermobiles) to move along and drive away the poor from the levee area, $50,000 for “security” cameras, $24,000 for lighting upgrades, and $5000 for a “Public Engagement Summit”
Also on the conveyor belt is proposed fencing along the levee, as they look for a cheaper contractor.
The previous “Summit” in March had no representation from renters, the unhoused, civil liberties groups, minority interest groups, or students. The proposal is being pushed by the true bosses of the City Martin Bernal and his underling Scott Collins–City Manager and Deputy City Manager respectively who remain unaccountable to the community and receive no regular public scrutiny by any independent oversight body.
THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
Recent mass marches have highlighted opposition to Trump’s misogyny, his immigrant hostility, his tax returns concealment, and his “alternate science” weltanschauung and the upcoming Trump’s Climate Confusion walk next Saturday. There is little if any acknowledgement of the broader collusion or indifference of local politicians on prior policies which set the stage for Trump’s toxic expansions.
The most obvious aspect of this is the local silence in the face of recent bipartisian saber rattling and hypermilitarism escalating foreign wars that thrived under Obama (and that Clinton vowed to continue). Local opportunist Democrats are heightening the danger with ramped up Russophobia and McCarthyite hysteria to justify Clinton’s defeat and push Trump out of power (so we can get Pence?).
The same local misfocus is also true of any pressure for politicians to be locally accountable. However, item ##2 and 3 on the evening agenda involving divestment from Granite Construction and Wells Fargo on the evening agenda do indicate a positive change–though again, prompted by distant national issues and heavy Democratic Party mobilization “against Trump”.
Where there is no improvement–in fact, further deterioration, is around poverty, houselessness, and local policing.
FENCING FOLLY AN OLD STORY
The City’s involvement with the recent chain link fence at the downtown post office has been unclear in spite of e-mails from Councilmembers Mathews and Niroyan hostile to Food Not Bombs weekend meals there.
The post office fence is likely part of the drive against homeless sleepers under the eaves at night and Food Not Bombs patrons on the steps during the weekend. The alleged “Construction” supposedly being undertaken there has yet to appear–and it’s been weeks.
The whole thing is reminiscent of the phony “plant restoration” pretext given to rope off the levee space near the Soquel St. bridge across from CVS back in 2010. See “City runs off Drum Circle again, cuts down trees and cements AREA CLOSED signs along levee” at https://www.indybay.org/
To register your opposition to the City Council’s latest gentrification move on the Levee, e-mail them at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com . To consider more direct action protest, check out the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting at 11 AM-1 PM Wednesday at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific, or give a call to 831-423-4833.
For the last 10 nights since the Winter Shelter program ended (a month earlier than Berkeley’s or Salinas’s), some of its refugees have been camped at City Hall, spending their nights and some of their days there as well.
Some are arrayed just outside the offices of Mayor Cynthia Chase and the same Council majority that kept sleeping a crime in a Council vote last spring.
I’ve written a flyer or two about the issue & distributed it at “liberal” activist gatherings like the Indivisible rally Saturday. So far no Indivisible groups have expressed interest in the 1000-2000 unsheltered or protesting local Trumpism here against our own poverty refugees.
All bathrooms remained closed late at night; the City Hall bathrooms (apparently on the order of City Manager Martin Bernal) during the day as well “for vandalism” (though they seemed to work well enough when “respectable” groups were meeting in City Council chambers.
Video of the April 6th police expulsion raids is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Monterey County Union of the Homeless videographer Wes White’s video of the April 11th Memorial for Michael Mears–who reportedly died of hypothermia–is posted at https://www.facebook.com/
Freedom Sleepers will be meeting Tuesday night in front of City Hall at 7 PM to discuss preparations to support a May 9th mega-demo against the Sleeping Ban as well as support for the nightly Survival Sleepers. The meeting will follow a 6 PM meeting on the 2nd floor of the Main Public Library around the Homeless Crisis.
There will also be a free showing Wednesday April 19th up at UCSC at the Kresge Seminar Room #159. Featured will be Brent Adams’ “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, Israel Dawson’s “Freedom Sleepers”, and Rebecca Gourevitch’s “Holding Out”.
Freedom SleepOut #93 will go from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning–the public is invited to drop in, stay awhile, bring blankets, sleeping bags, and video devices to film and post what the City is seeking to hide or ignore–the abuse of homeless people at the very seat of government.