Standing Up Against Attacks on the Homeless in San Jose and Santa Cruz


NOTE BY NORSE:   Palo Alto activist and vandweller Chuck Jagoda has forwarded this alert from Sandy Perry of CHAM, San Jose’s Community Homeless Alliance Ministry.  Note that the homeless woman is still unnamed, nor do we hear the names of those responsible.  An activist called me to say that earlier KGO reported this as a CalTrans incident that put the woman in the hospital.
HUFF  will be serving food and coffee at 9:30 AM in front of the Main library Tuesday March 31st to continue gathering reports of the abusive ticketing of homeless people trying to sleep at night.   We will also be monitoring the activities of abusive First Alarm personnel, such as “Big John”–a beefy guy who reportedly has elevated harassing homeless people in the library to a regular practice if not a sadistic art.
Parks and Rec Czarina Dannettee Shoemaker told me at a P & R “public input” session on how to address parks in the general plan that she would not be able to support a permit for homeless people camping in the parks–as sought by activist Phil Posner for his Camp of Last Resort in spite of the hundreds of acres of open space available, particularly in the Pogonip.  Previous reports by writer and politico Steve Pleich had indicated she “hasn’t said ‘no'”.
Please pass on any reports of stay-away orders issued since mid-February of this year, particularly those for longer than one day as well as abusive behavior by First Alarm security guards.  We are also urging people to file claims against the City every time they get a Sleeping Ban, Blanket Ban, or camping citation.  Pleich and lawyer Judi Bari intend to apply for a restraining order against the law on April 20th.
Right 2 Rest supporters of legislation at the state level will be going to hearings in state legislative committees this month.  Contact HUFF for more information.

CHP Tractor Runs Over Homeless Woman


(KGO) – Officials say that a homeless woman was injured after getting run over by a CHP tractor that was working to clear out a homeless encampment in San Jose.

The CHP reports that a loader-tractor was clearing a homeless encampment on Story Road at about 10 a.m. today when the accident occurred. The loader was tearing down a tent when someone warned the operator that there was a person still inside the tent.

Officials say the woman suffered minor injuries, and she was treated at the scene.

Four Months after the Closure of the “Jungle”:


Sponsored by CHAM and H.O.M.E.L.E.S.S., a group of homeless people,

advocates, and people of faith will gather at the former site of the

“Jungle” homeless encampment at 12 noon on Cesar Chavez Day, Tuesday

March 31.

We will speak out about the injury of a homeless woman last Friday while

Caltrans was bulldozing her tent in a “clean-up” near Story Road.

Thousands of Silicon Valley’s homeless still have no place to lay their

heads tonight, almost four months after the Jungle was destroyed by the

City of San Jose on December 4. In fact, the situation will get worse on

Wednesday, when the County winter shelter program discharges an

additional estimated 270 homeless out onto the streets.

People who were evicted from the Jungle have moved and been

displaced over and over with no end in sight. Some moved to the

Walmart parking lot, then Roberts Road, then south of Tully, then to

Phelan at the railroad tracks, then to north of Tully, then to Monterey

Highway, then to Almaden Road, and they are still moving.

When questioned by the Board of Supervisors on March 24, County

officials stated that there are some 5300-5400 homeless for whom there

is no housing or shelter available. When asked for their plan to address

this situation, they responded, “There is no proposal at this time.”

Having no proposal to house or shelter the homeless is not acceptable in

the richest area in the world. A five-year plan is not acceptable, because

people have no place to go right now. They are persecuted with endless

nightmare evictions, harassment, criminalization, and frequent seizure of

their personal belongings.

Cesar Chavez dedicated his life to organizing for justice for the poor, and

San Jose’s homeless and their allies are building a movement for the

same cause.

We call for an immediate commitment by elected officials to affordable

housing for the homeless and for all people in need in Silicon Valley.

While housing is being built, we call for establishment of legal

campgrounds with appropriate sanitary facilities and trash disposal.

Finally, we call on the state legislature to enact SB 608, the “Right to Rest

Law”, that would outlaw discrimination against homeless people in public




Please allow time for parking on Twelfth Street, near Kelley Park, or at


Late But Still Standing: HUFF meets as usual 3-25, Sub Rosa !

Preoccupied with yesterday’s irrelevant City Council meeting and the impotent “protest” there, I apologize for not putting out the “HUFF will meet” teaser.  But we’re meeting.  Same place: 703 Pacific.  Same time: 11 AM.

Possible topics:  Guiding the homeless through Small Claims Court; Right to Rest legislative support: report on Monday’s Conference call;  Following Up from the City Council/Board of Supes debacle, Lobbying Local “Human Rights” Organizations, “Big John” watch at the Library, and more!   Coffee with or without cream.

[huffsantacruz] Monterey, Venice, and Berkeley Protests Against Anti-Homeless Laws & Practices


Community Members Continue to Protest the Sit-Lie Ban in Monterey
by Alex Darocy
Saturday Mar 14th, 2015 1:56 PM

Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) and other community members returned to Alvarado Street in Monterey on March 13 for a second sit-in. They are protesting a law that went into effect in October that makes sitting or lying on commercial sidewalks a crime from 7am until 9pm. DAMN’s first demonstration against the sitting ban was held on February 13, exactly one month prior, and they say they plan to return again next month for a similar action. The idea to schedule the protests monthly was a calculated decision. The phrasing of the new law states that if an individual receives a warning from the police to stop sitting, they must not sit on the sidewalk again for one month, or they can be cited and or arrested.

“Join us as we sit and lie in solidarity with the homeless, travelers, and all people targeted by police and their brutality,” an announcement for the March 13 event read.

DAMN members are not using the word “brutality” lightly. As recently as two months ago they received a first hand account of police officers in Monterey physically beating a homeless person who had been lying on Alvarado Street’s sidewalk.

Those sitting during the demonstration held protest signs, and after reading them, one of the first people to pass the group said loudly, “Next thing you know, you can’t walk!”

A few minutes later Jason Coniglio, the owner of My Attic Bar & Lounge, asked them if they weren’t unfairly targeting his business, since they had already demonstrated in front of it once before.

One of the demonstrators then asked him if he had spoken out against the sit-lie law, and Coniglio did not respond.

Another downtown business owner spent a good deal of time sharing his list of complaints about street people with the group of demonstrators. One of his claims was that over the years he had offered jobs to a number of different people who he had seen panhandling, and none had ever taken him up on the offer of work.

In May of 2013, when the Monterey City Council was first considering a sit-lie ban, Monterey Chief of Police Philip J. Penko authored the staff report that explained a sit-lie ban proposal was brought to them because for several months city staff had received complaints about “a decreased sense of safeness” in downtown Monterey, around Fisherman’s Wharf, and long Roberts Road and Garden Road. Fred Meurer, who was City Manager at the time, told council members that the bulk of complaints came from the Old Monterey Business Association membership. The council decided at that time not to study the concept further, but increased pressure from the business community and the police led to a sit-lie ordinance being passed in 2014.

During DAMN’s first sit-lie protest on February 13, there was a strong police presence on foot monitoring the group’s activities, but not so for the second protest, and so far no one has been warned by police to stop sitting at the demonstrations.

The next sit-in is planned for April.

For more information about Direct Action Monterey Network, see:

Alex Darocy


by Alex Darocy Saturday Mar 14th, 2015 1:56 PM


by Alex Darocy Saturday Mar 14th, 2015 1:56 PM

§A Downtown Monterey business owner speaks to the group

by Alex Darocy Saturday Mar 14th, 2015 1:56 PM

§Alvarado Street

by Alex Darocy Saturday Mar 14th, 2015 1:56 PM


by Alex Darocy Saturday Mar 14th, 2015 1:56 PM

Continue reading

Berkeley Barks Back: Human Rights Protest Tuesday at Berkeley City Council


Note by Norse:  Berkeley has long held off the worst anti-homeless ordinances.  Far worse laws are entrenched in Santa Cruz since 1994 and have gotten exponentially worse.


Our latest obscenity is the Stay-Away-at-a-Policeman’s-Whim law which allows cops and rangers to issue their own stay-away laws once they’ve given out any kind of infraction ticket with no judicial oversight.   Already hundreds of such orders have been issued (on pain of a year in jail)  and as of mid-February the length of banishment has been increased for up to a year.


Santa Cruz’s laws on sitting and panhandling are harsher by an order of magnitude at least than Berkeley’s current and proposed laws.  Our laws ban sitting on 99% of the sidewalks in business and beachfront districts and ban all panhandling at night, even if peaceful and only involving a silent sign.  MC 13.08.090(b) banning “disorderly conduct on park property” makes it a misdemeanor to “by threatening or abusive or profane language, willfully molest or unreasonably interfere with the use of a city park or bench by any other person.”  


Why such a discrepancy between Berkeley and Santa Cruz?  Both are university towns with liberal reputations,.  Berkeley is bigger and lies in a larger urban area where activists can more easily congregate to oppose the reactionary riptide.  Berkeley also seems to be able to enlist–at least in part–many social workers and service providers, who remain starkly silent in Santa Cruz as nasty law after law is proposed and passed.


Activists in Berkeley hit the streets and demand real local police reform instead of largely limiting their concerns to symbolic targets like the BearCat armored personnel carrier, license recognition software, or “protection” from the NDAA.  The most recent liberal coalition of organizations appearing faithfully at City Council to speak out against the BearCat have banned HUFF from their literature in a closed meeting without discussion, appeal, or notice.


Those interested in a possible caravan up to Berkeley on Tuesday March 17th, contact HUFF at 423-HUFF (4833).  I hope to be heading that way with at least one vehicle.  I’ll be hoping to interview someone from Berkeley on this issue tomorrow on Free Radio Santa Cruz at sometime between 9:30 AM and 1 PM.


Check the links in the three stories below to catch more photos, comments, and video.

Press Release: Rally and March Planned to Protest Effort to Pass New Anti-Homeless Laws in Berkeley

Osha Neumann Thursday March 12, 2015 – 10:07:00 PM–Osha-Neumann

The Streets Are for Everyone Coalition (SAFE), is calling for an emergency march and rally on March 17 to protest efforts to get the Berkeley City Council to pass new laws targeting homeless people on the streets of the city.

The protest will precede a meeting of the Council at which it will consider a proposal by Councilmember Linda Maio for a raft of new ordinances, which would criminalize such innocuous activities as “lying on planter walls” and “deployment” of bedding on sidewalks and plazas during the day.

“Taken together with existing laws, these ordinances would essentially make it illegal for people who are homeless to have a presence on our streets and sidewalks,” said Osha Neumann an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center. He has represented many homeless people who have received citations for, he says, “activities they engage in as part of their effort to survive.”

Professor Jeff Selbin is the director of Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic, which recently published a study about the growing enactment and enforcement of anti-homeless laws in California. He commented: “The evidence from around the state and country is quite clear: criminalizing people who are homeless doesn’t solve any of the underlying causes or conditions of homelessness; in fact, it only makes them worse. It would be inhumane, ineffective and expensive for Berkeley to double down on punitive laws that will only hurt our most vulnerable residents.”

Patricia Wall, Executive Director of the Homeless Action Center, expressed outrage that it was again necessary to fight for the rights of people who are homeless in the town with a supposed commitment to civil liberties. “Just under 2 ½ years ago,” she said, “Berkeley voters defeated Measure S, which would have criminalized sitting on the sidewalk. The same real estate interests that brought us that proposal are back again. And once again we need to show them that they don’t own this town, nor, hopefully, its politicians.”

Bob Offer-Westort of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and former head of the “No on S. Campaign,” was astounded when he learned of Maio’s proposals. “Berkeley’s continuing failure to pay any heed to reason, research, or fellow feeling when developing homeless policy is mind-numbing. This city has a homeless commission, a homeless task force, and one of the best schools of social work in California. But our legislators can’t be bothered to lend an ear to either homeless people themselves, service providers, or policy experts, but legislation seems to be driven by a relentless cycle of panic and whim.”

The march will begin at 5 PM on the corner of Telegraph Ave. and Haste Street and proceed to the steps of Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, for a rally at 6 PM.

Streets Are For Everyone Coalition (SAFE) :

Homeless advocates plan march and rally to protest proposals to regulate conduct on Berkeley streets

By Tom Lochner
Posted: 03/13/15, 5:03 PM PDT |

BERKELEY — Advocates for the homeless are protesting a new set of rules, proposed by Councilwoman Linda Maio, that they say would criminalize much of what homeless people do to survive.

Maio, whose northwest Berkeley district includes the commercially booming Gilman Street corridor, proposes several ordinances to regulate a slew of activities in commercial areas, ranging from cooking, panhandling and storing possessions, to urinating and defecating.

“Taken together with existing laws, these ordinances would essentially make it illegal for people who are homeless to have a presence on our streets and sidewalks,” Osha Neumann, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, said in a news release from the SAFE (Streets Are For Everyone) coalition.

The group has called a protest march and rally before Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Maio says her proposals “will go a long way to establishing clarity for law enforcement and ensuring that the entire public has access to the public streets and plazas unimpeded.”

Measures include:
UC Berkeley professor Jeff Selbin is cited in the SAFE news release as saying evidence from around the state and nation clearly shows that “criminalizing people who are homeless doesn’t solve any of the underlying causes and conditions of homelessness; in fact, it only makes them worse.”
Maio says she seeks “consistency in the enforcement of current ordinances,” to protect public infrastructure, facilitate maintenance, promote cleanliness and safeguard public access, among other goals.
She also wants a review of ordinances in other cities that address public urination and defecation and to ensure that public restrooms are available and well publicized, in collaboration with BART.
She also wants to survey business districts about the adequacy of enforcement of current ordinances; study whether
a six-foot right of way is adequate for pedestrian and wheelchair passage in high-traffic areas; and explore extending transition-aged youth shelter hours beyond winter months.

The regular council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

The march will begin at 5 p.m. at Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street and will proceed to Old City Hall for a rally at 6 p.m., according to the SAFE news release.

Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760.

Why Criminalizing Poverty Sells

Carol Denney

Friday March 13, 2015 – 12:17:00 PM–Carol-Denney

Criminalizing homelessness is the most expensive, least effective way to address homelessness. Studies prove it, reporters note it, and common sense suggests it since paying for a year of low-income housing or even a college education costs a lot less than a year in jail. So why does it sell like crazy?

Nationwide we’re bristling with new anti-homeless and vagrancy laws according to a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. California leads with way with an average nine such laws per city according to the UC Berkeley School of Law Policy Advocacy Clinic’s recent study. The laws typically criminalize standing, sitting, lying down, sleeping, having belongings with you which might define you as “camping”, sleeping in your own car, sharing food with others, asking for money or help from others, and other behaviors which are unavoidable, especially for people who have no place
to go.

Why are these embarrassingly heartless laws so easy to pass and so popular? The answer is that there’s currently a political cost to any politician who insists on the creation of low-cost housing as a priority. But there is very little political cost at present to passing yet another law, even an unconstitutional law, which burdens the poor.

Berkeley is a great example. Berkeley is a college town, notoriously liberal, consistently cast as comically out of touch with mainstream American politics in national press. But successive mayor after mayor has been more than willing to override community will, ignore the moral objections of religious and human rights groups, and go to bat in court for unconstitutional legislation on behalf of political groups who want the poor to just disappear.

In an interview with Berkeley author John Curl, Mayor Tom Bates referred to rent control in particular as “a no-win position” for him and “a death knell” for politicians generally. Berkeley citizens, in the absence of honest leadership on the issue of low-income and affordable housing, cite their own frustration with panhandling and homelessness as reason enough to vote repeatedly for laws of dubious constitutionality which target poor people on the street struggling with unemployment, evictions, and skyrocketing rents.

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken issued a temporary restraining order in 1995 against Berkeley’s 1994 anti-panhandling law, noting that “some Berkeley citizens feel annoyed or guilty when faced with an indigent beggar . . . Feelings of annoyance or guilt, however, cannot outweigh the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Poor and homeless people are notoriously ill-equipped to hire lawyers and mount legal challenges to the anti-poor laws generated primarily by merchant associations which, in the case of the powerful Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA), get mandated “membership” payments from all the businesses within its expanding downtown footprint. The DBA’s board is dominated by large property owners who were the primary funders of the failed anti-sitting law campaign in Berkeley’s 2012 election. There is not a single representative on the board from the poorly funded non-profits and law clinics who work with the poor and homeless people caught up in the endless web of the criminalization of poverty. Those are the groups who will show up in opposition to new anti-homeless initiatives. But they are much less likely to be as able as wealthy investment and property companies to toss large campaign donations the council’s way come the next election.

The Berkeley City Council knows that circling poor and homeless people endlessly through overburdened courts and jails over unpayable fines for innocuous offenses is dumb. They tend to be intelligent people who by now have had somebody toss a copy of Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic’s report on California’s New Vagrancy Laws or the No Safe Place report on the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (or both) on their desks. They may even have read the reports.

But it takes courage to say no to merchant associations’ and the University of California’s short-sighted effort to make homelessness and poverty invisible. Courage is in short supply in the Berkeley City Council chambers. For all the opining in January and February 2015 about the Black Lives Matter campaigns, and even though the majority of those affected are people of color and people struggling with disabilities, the anti-homeless laws slated for passage at the March 17th Berkeley City Council meeting seem to be proof that the war on the poor will go on without interruption.

Public Comment

Progressive in District 4 may as well elect an ultra-right conservative
(An open letter to the progressive voters of Berkeley)

On March 17th the Berkeley City Council will consider expanding the authority and practice of police, especially in downtown Berkeley. The council will consider authorizing the police to treat the down and out even more harshly than they are already treated.

Jesse Arreguin and Linda Maio have brought this authoritarian measure before council.

Here is one good description of the proposals, via Copwatch:
“1. Ordinance preventing panhandling within 10 feet of a parking pay station (akin to our ATM ordinance).
“2. Review ordinances other cities use to address public urination/defecation and return with recommendations for implementation; ensure public restrooms are available and well publicized. Involve BART in exploring possible locations.
“3. Ordinance preventing the placement of personal objects in planters, tree wells, or within 3 feet of a tree well.
“4. Ordinance preventing lying on planter walls or inside of planters.
“5. Ordinance preventing deployment of bedding, tenting, sleeping pads, mattresses, blankets, etc. on sidewalks and plazas from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“6. Ordinance preventing personal items from being affixed to public fixtures including poles, bike racks (except bikes), planters, trees, tree guards, newspaper racks, parking meters and pay stations. Pet leashes exempt only as not prohibited in BMC 10.12.110.
“7. Ordinance preventing unpermitted cooking on public sidewalks.
“8. Survey business districts to determine adequacy of enforcement of current ordinances; develop an action plan for consistent enforcement as needed.
“9. Clarify if “no trespass” signs on private property extend to sitting against buildings.
“10.Assess adequacy of six-foot right-of-way to enable sufficient pedestrian and wheelchair passage particularly in high-traffic areas.
” 11.Refer to the budget process extending transition-aged youth shelter hours beyond winter months”

To that list we might add an item carried over from March 10th: Jesse Arreguin’s proposal to compete against panhandlers with donation boxes downtown, branded “positive change”. These new boxes would turn over donations to city bureaucracy, either directly or in the form of the Downtown Berkeley Association. The middle class will take a large cut of handouts meant for the very poor.

Quite simply, Jesse Arreguin and Linda Maio are launching a doubling down on the police attack on the down and out.

Our supposedly progressive District 4 councilman, the supposed inheritor of Dona Spring’s legacy, has joined with those who want to bum rush the poor and the crazy out of town, by means of police and court system violence.

Let us be clear on the morality of this maneuver:

Nobody likes being panhandled but proximity to a parking pay station has nothing to do with it. “10 feet from a parking pay station” is a feeble excuse to write tickets, to send random-down-and-out people to jail, to enrich the police forces, and to pretend for the sake of effete snobs that at long last Something Is Being Done.

And what of “personal objects in planters, tree wells, or within 3 feet of a tree well”? Here, Jesse and Linda propose to penalize poor people for owning a few things, and setting them down where they are out of the way.

What of an ordinance preventing stretching out on a planter wall, an architectural feature perfect for relaxing in public while not spending money for the benefit of local landlords?

Jesse Arreguin and Linda Maio have taken the view that if you aren’t giving money to Berkeley’s landlords then you have little business downtown and should certainly not try to make yourself comfortable or set anything down.

The measure goes on like this and only hypocrites and liars can find in this sorry excuse for legislation anything much more than an attempt to respond to a humanitarian crisis by penalizing the victims further.

Linda Maio once declared that she trembled with rage on the dais at the assertion she was less than a progressive.

For reasons that are hard to imagine, Jesse Arreguin is still presumed a progressive.

Listen, folks:

Nobody particularly enjoys an overly aggressive panhandler.
Nobody thrills to the “fun” of encountering a homeless mentally ill person in mid-crisis.
White people don’t like being name called racial names.
People of color don’t like being eyed with obvious suspicion and disgust.
Poor people don’t like getting brushed off the sidewalk by aggro khaki’ed business bros.
Nobody can stand dumb students who zombie through town deafened by ear buds and tunnel-visioned into their not-so-smart phones.
Women righteously resent the cat calls and the “b word”.

The list goes on and on.

Yet none of this justifies blue-suited men with guns and restraints violently punching down the most vulnerable.
None of this justifies our society’s failure to manage public restrooms and showers and shelter.
None of this justifies the equally offensive sneering and snarky behavior of rich theater patrons, ice cream seekers, and khaki-and-hemp swells about town.

Expanded police, and jail, and court system violence is not the answer and it will only make matters worse.
It is the height of malevolent cynicism that Linda Maio and Jesse Arreguin propose such state sponsored violence as a condition of meager improvements to social spending.

There will be protests at the March 17th council meeting and I have no idea if they will be large or small. Regardless, if Berkeley wants to keep going in this direction, our City Council will make Berkeley ground zero for a lasting confrontation. Berkeley will lead the nation, even if the council dais can not.



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Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom – Santa Cruz

p. 831-423-HUFF



Daniel McMullan [huffsantacruz] via 

5:14 PM (16 hours ago)

to Pattie, AT&T, Peoples, huffsantacruz, osha


Hey Bathrobey,
  Spent this fine Saturday morning at the spectacular 7th annual Poverty & Homelessness Symposium at Cal. The event was sponsored by the:
Public Service Center
Suitcase Clinic
Street Spirit
Habitat for Humanity
Red Cross
Berkeley Service Network
Cheese n’ Stuff
Noah’s Bagels
Cal Band
UC Jazz
Western Regional Advocacy Project
Write Home Project
Among many others, a couple of our council people put an item on the Action Calendar and many of us on Berkeley Commissions would not of even had a chance to speak out about it if we hadn’t moved up our monthly meetings to respond to the City Manager on budget issues. The action was hidden behind hundreds of pages of the Berkeley Sewer Plan.
Working with HAC, E.B.C.L.C. and others I and my comrades made sure this sneaky move was the top subject at the Symposium. What the council members thought was a very clever ploy turned out to be the worst mistake they ever could of made. Ah to feel young again!!!
So give me a ring if you like 510-684-5866 and we can talk.
Your comrade and friend,
Daniel J. McMullan III
Disabled People Outside Project
East Bay/San Francisco, CA
Human Welfare and Community Action Commission
City of Berkeley
(510) 684-5866

Continue reading


HUFF voted last week to support SCRAM’s 3-10 protest at City Council and urge folks to attend. They rejected my proposed amendment to encourage SCRAM to become more specific and local in its concern about local police abuse, militarization, and lack of transparency.

HUFF has in the past few months, hopeful of raising a real activist and community focus on local police abuse, held four protests at Cop Corner (Laurel and Center–next to the SCPD station) urging an end to racial and class profiling, concealing stats on use of force, and political backroom power in city government,. We have documented disproportionate racial citations by Officer Bradly Barnett. We continue to press for more information on what contracts the SCPD has made with other agencies (still held back by City Hall).

Though we’ve been doing this for many years, the recent Ferguson protests seemed a particularly important time to raise these issues. It’s also been part of HUFF’s continuing concern about the blatant homeless profiling going on downtown and elsewhere.

I provided writer, FRSC broadcaster, and police accountability activist John Malken with Public Records Act information, finally wrested from the bowels of the SCPD, that seemed to indicate the stated “deadline” of December 31,2014 was not a real one, i.e. that there really was no hurry to order the BearCat.

At the Louden Nelson forum on the BearCat, I arranged with KSCO owner Michael Zwerling to put BearCat opponents on a two-hour KSCO show. I was able to provide missing audio from the 1-13 meeting missing from the City’s official recordings at the risk of potential arrest and seizure of my equipment under the Council’s new “decorum” rules.


Yesterday I had to announce to HUFF members at our weekly Wednesday meeting that HUFF had been dropped from the SCRAM Coalition and removed from its literature as a support organization in a closed door meeting to which HUFF had not been invited.

I was told afterwards by phone that I personally “twisted people’s words” and “had burned my bridges”, apparently tainting the HUFF organization. When I asked for more specifics, particularly about anything having to do with the BearCat issue, I got none. No one in HUFF was given any credit or acknowledgment for their work.

Sherry Conable, principal spokesperson for SCRAM, declined to give any specifics when I confronted her at the Tuesday meeting. Other members were similarly silent or vague. In the past, Conable has made it a point to try to exclude me from various groups she’s led, so perhaps this is simply part of a continuing pattern.

I have concluded–though given the blanket of silence, it’s hard to know with any certainty–that SCRAM wants to appeal to local Democratic Party folks like Rep. Farr and the Democratic Central Committee (from which it recently received endorsement) and present a smooth image that does not seem broadly or deeply critical of the SCPD and its political allies on more fundamental matters.

Farr initially backed this backdoor/backroom initiative by the SCPD initiative and did not inform the community. Yet at the Council meeting SCRAM activists took time to read his letter in its entirety–including Farr’s false statement that there was a December 31st deadline. While much of Farr’s letter was positive, Farr essentially passed the buck to a hostile City Council.

I’ve suggested that SCREAM needs to be more creative, direct, outspoken and high-profile in its protests. I’ve suggested they have to move behind the BearCat issue to address local police abuse specifically and the need for deeper change here. There are diminishing numbers and an increasingly tamed group at the biweekly protests at City Hall. Opponents are settling for half an hour of speakers with Mayor Lane ignoring those waiting to speak before an oblivious City Council. Why not expose the real powers in the Community behind the BearCat decision more directly and visibly like the City Manager, the Police Chief,and Farr himself.

I as an individual and HUFF as a group certainly supports such liberal projects as declaring Santa Cruz an NDAA-free zone, dumping the license surveillance software, and, of course, returning the BearCat. However, as national Black Lives Matter activists have repeatedly pointed out (and Michelle Alexander eloquently discussed on the 3-4 Democracy Now! show at )–strong action in the streets and at the grass roots is key.

Berkeley activists recently got its City Council to make (on paper at least) some significant changes to its department (See

We certainly need to dump the BearCat, but dumping those who support more necessary fundamental changes, is a step backwards.

And, of course, elitist smears of more radical activists either out of personal animus or an attempt to move to the center pisses me off. It’s particularly loathsome when it happens behind closed doors in a group preaching to the Community about transparency and due process.

These are my views though, I believe, they reflect the opinion of some others in HUFF. Some prefer to keep this issue quiet in the interests of solidarity around BearCat opposition. I believe it has significance for both activists and the broader community. Continue reading

HUFF, bloodied but unbowed, convenes 11 AM 3-11 at Sub Rosa

In spite of being censored from the SCRAM (Santa Cruz Resistance Against Militarism) coalition and our name removed from their endorsers in a closed meeting to which HUFF was not invited, we showed up yesterday to support the BearCat Rejection.   Coming UP on the agenda tomorrow will be Reviewing Stay Away Orders by Parks and Recreation at City Hall; Pursuing the Public Safety Committee after it cancelled its Monday meeting; Updates on the Sleeping Ban Slog towards Small Claims Court; Right2Rest lobbying…and more!  Plus coffee, cookies, and gosh knows what else!



Public Safety Committee Stonewalls Stay-Away Exclusion of Homeless in Santa Cruz


Santa Cruz City Council’s Public Safety Committee Meeting Postponed
Monday March 09
6:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Location Details:
City Council Chambers or City Council Conference Room next door
Event Type: Meeting
The City Council’s Public Safety Committee [PSC] is charged with overseeing police and fire departments. However, in the last few years, it’s been the means (along with Parks and Rec boss Dannettee Shoemaker) for funneling anti-homeless legislation to the City Council.

Such laws have masqueraded as “public safety” measures in the latest smear of the poor who sleep outside as a pretext to give police more ‘tools” to frighten them out of sight and out of town.

These laws include the “panhandlers–and political activists–stay off the medians in the city” and a series of other concerns prepared by the anti-homeless Public Safety Task Force of 2013.

In January 2013, City Council vastly expanded its law unconstitutionally delegating sweeping “stay-away” order powers to police and rangers with no guidelines, no court oversight, and no independent access to appeal.

The ordinance is MC 10.08.100 at

I critically analyze the law at [“Stay-Away Stupidity Not on Tuesday’s 11-25 Council Agenda”]

The PSC has so far declined to examine the lessons learned from a year and a half from Council’s earlier 1-day Stay-Away law passed in June of 2013. A thorough examination of tickets issued under this law reveal some striking and shocking concerns.

Far from having anything to do with Public Safety, the “Stay-Away” law was used in its earlier weaker form to harass homeless people for non-criminal survival behavior (or behavior that posed no threat to anyone) such as sleeping, being in a park after dark, and smoking.

(See “Stay-Away From Human Rights ! An Activist Examines the Escalating Stay-Away Orders Law” at

Councilmember Terrazas, PSC Chair, has so far declined to put the Stay-Away on the agenda, even though his committee is charged with examining the impact of the law–but not until September 2015!

Since the law has already been used over 1000 times in its earlier form, refusing to look at clear facts is unacceptable. Pursuing and terrorizing homeless people to make the parks “friendlier” is the likely prospect for many of the City’s 1500-2000 homeless, 90% of whom have no shelter at night.

HUFF has urged Terrazas to review the real and substantial record. Instead, for unclear reasons the meeting has been postponed.

We encourage people to contact HUFF to help those given Stay-Away’s to challenge them before the City Manager, join protests around the issue, and help track the dimensions of this new attack on the homeless community.

We also urge those concerned to e-mail the PSC members:
dterrazas [at] pcomstock [at]
cchase [at]

Or call them at 831-420-5020 to urge them to hold public hearings immediately and call for suspension of the law. Until it’s clear that the law addresses real criminal behavior and does not target poor people outside.

HUFF can be reached at 831-423-HUFF (4833).
Or e-mail rnorse3 [at] .

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