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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons

Homeless Couple victorious against contempt charges
by nab
Saturday Mar 20th, 2010 8:44 PM
A stunning victory for Defense Attorneys Jonathon Gettleman and Mark Briscoe by defeating City Attorney John Barisone’s attempt to have the homeless couple, Anna Richardson and Miguel DeLeon jailed summarily for 15 days and charged $1,000 for each new infraction citation.

Instead, Judge Timothy Volkmann insisted on a full trial of the facts of two citations where the officers were in court able to testify, and that the burden of proof was on the City to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the couple violated the injunction. Volkmann later acquitted the couple on both charges handing BARISONE an embarrassing defeat." --Becky Johnson of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom)

Homeless musicians Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon faced jail for allegedly defying the cities laws against sleeping overnight in the area. The City had tried to argue that the pair were in contempt of court as they had been seen by police with blankets and all their possessions. The pair had an injunction preventing them from camping. The Judge disagreed that the reports showed the pair were intending to camp. For homeless, people taking a nap with your belongings during the afternoon is not the same as camping.

The City has consistently argued that shop owners and customers in the downtown area are afraid of homeless people who scare them away. The City’s defence Attorney even said it was ironic that homeless people discourage others using the downtown area, which means the city gets less money from taxes and can help fewer homeless people. If the money from taxes went into helping the homeless this argument might hold, but instead it goes into paying police to ticket musicians, homeless people in cars and under blankets who are often asleep.

“I don’t want to be in contempt or disrespect the court in any way,” said DeLeon. “I love this place. It’s home to me and always will be.” The city has created new laws to make the public musician’s lifestyle virtually impossible. Santa Cruz has no legal sleeping place for 90% of its homeless population. It provides $90+ fines for sleeping on any public property after 11 PM or camping (“with the intent to remain in that location overnight”).

Wasted time, money and effort goes into trying to criminalize homeless people which could be diverted into a positive response. “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

The Sentinel article with a slightly misleading title

Huff quote

Some HUFF background

Indybay news report

Earlier Sentinel article