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Two Jailed, Curbhugger Released, Five More Misdemeanor Tickets at PeaceCamp2010
Called around 4:30 AM, I came down to the County Government Building steps to find 8 deputies ticketing, evicting, and jailing PeaceCamp2010 protesters. The grand total of citations is now 24; the arrest total: an additional 9--mostly on the same charge--"lodging" PC 647e--a "disorderly conduct" code requires jury trials and public defenders. Why the county thinks it can get convictions is unclear. Since there is no legal shelter space in the city tonight, the necessity defense is a likely winner at trial.
About 8 people remained on the steps of the courthouse building, seated next to "End the Sleeping Ban" signs, as night turned into Tuesday morning. The group awaited the return of two jailed activists (a third--Gary Johnson--is still being held, perhaps to be arraigned this morning, perhaps Wednesday morning).
Five more people were cited. Housed HUFF activists Linda and Coral both got their first citations; they had joined the protest in solidarity and were "caught" sleeping shortly after 4 AM, when the deputies made their 6th raid of the week.
Crow and Red lost their van--which was their home--as part of the city's "beautify by booting" blitz, tried to sit up in chairs, but ended up crashing in sleeping bags. Said Crow, "we've been fighting this fight for decades now; looks like I'll have to go to jail again and again." "We tried to sleep during the day in the park," said Red, "but [Chief Ranger] John Wallace gave us tickets for having our leashed dog with us." The zealous Wallace, reported Red and Crow, ignored passing pooches with wealthier pedigrees.
Collette Connolly became the first PeaceCamp2010 to receive her second "illegal lodging" citation. The 72 year old woman was given no place to sleep. She was allowed to leave, but given no legal alternative place to go sleep.
Deputies warned Linda Lemaster, chair of the former Homeless Issues Task Force in 1999. "You've taken enough photographs" she was told and had then to leave the property because she'd "signed an agreement" to do so. What Linda actually signed was a promise to appear in court, however, not an agreement to vacate and not return (such as the Boardwalk regularly, arbitrarily, and illegally issues). Linda declined to leave and was not arrested or cited.
Lemaster spoke on KSBW-TV earlier supporting the PeaceCamp2010's homeless-run open-air sheltering group (see http://www.ksbw.com/video/24571442/index.html ).
Curbhugger Chris Doyon, frequent spokesperson for PeaceCamp2010, was gently handcuffed--from the front rather than behind his back as is customary--as deputies allowed me to take his property and signs.
"I'll be back," he promised--and indeed, he returned 3 1/2 hours later.
"I'm still sick, but was well-treated by the deputies. They didn't take my clothes, had a doctor waiting, and held me in a heated room, however I got no medication for my pneumonia. Perhaps my condition was why they released me so quickly." Chris also reported his partner in sleepcrime, Joel, a local physicist who had to get back to his day job, was also released without bail on promise to be in court next month in what promises to be an expensive series of misdemeanor trials.
Chris reported the protest was resuming and thanked waiting activists for their standing ovation. The homeless man whose sleeping citations started the whole protest-- 63-year-old Robert "Blindbear" Facer--was there holding an American flag.
Reached by phone after his release, Chris had some final words: "I'm stunned that the sheriffs would treat people like this, that the government would need to do this. I'm sad. I'm angry. I don't know where this will all end," His next date, he said, was with a pillow and a blanket in the back of someone's vehicle before returning to the fray.
This morning's Sentinel has an editorial attack on Peacecamp2010 ("Hits and Misses") at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/ci_15727940
But its front page story on "Few Campers Remain", an empty piece with no mention of the shelter scandal--by hack writer Jennafer Squires--isn't mentioned as being a story in today's Sentinel.
KION's Azenith Smith's sympathetic story including an on-point video clip from Irish "criminal sleeper" Christine Nibheolain--the 7th person arrested--can be found at http://www.kionrightnow.com/global/story.asp?s=12945748 ("More Arrests for Santa Cruz Homeless Camp") Her arrest happened Sunday night/Monday morning.