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

Two Jailed, Curbhugger Released, Five More Misdemeanor Tickets at PeaceCamp2010
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Aug 10th, 2010 9:02 AM
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.


MEDIA MISHMASH
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.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by L.A. Times (repost)
Tuesday Aug 10th, 2010 10:26 AM
"Advocates claim the city has been unfairly using the state law--which bars people from setting up semi-permanent lodging in public areas--against the homeless since the city was ordered to stop enforcing its own anti-camping ordinance in June."
The Sentinel's on-line website doesn't mention what's on the front page of today's (Tuesday 8-10) Sentinel. An above-the-fold story "Few remain at camp: Private Security Guard Keeps Watch Over Site". It's a 17-paragraph story with a 1/8 page photograph on pages A-1 and A-2. All other Sentinel stories on PeaceCamp2010, bad as they were, were actually on line

The only other time this happened recently was when my letter of August 4th (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_15695634?IADID=Search-www.santacruzsentinel.com-www.santacruzsentinel.com) was not posted, but finally restored.

I spoke with Alia Wilson at the Sentinel about checking this out. She said she would. More important, she gave the impression she'd be calling the Homeless Services Center to ask if they have any shelter beds there and whether beds have been available at all since April or will be until November.

I explained to her an official statement was a key component in any criminal arrest of sleepers for "illegal lodging" or the city's "sleeping ban". As well as a significant element in deterring deputies from falsely citing or arresting sleepers, when they know all such charges will be dropped in court with a necessity defense that there is no shelter and people have to sleep somewhere.

No word yet from Nancy or Monica--Homeless Service Center workers--who were asked last Thursday via worker Daniel to release a printed statement that there would be no shelter beds available for the next two months except on waiting lists and haven't been throughout the summer. The statement could be a nice paper response to deputies coming around with their paper "warnings" to stop "illegal lodging". Call the Homeless Services Center at 458-6020 if you're looking for an answer. Monica is the executive director there; Nancy is reportedly in charge of shelter services.

The Sentinel is continuing to run its poll of all those pollcats out there:

The homeless protest
With regard to the homeless camp at the Santa Cruz County courthouse, which group has your sympathies?
Total Votes = 1013
The homeless and their advocates
91 Votes, or 8.983 %
The city and county police
695 Votes, or 68.60 %
Neither
138 Votes, or 13.62 %
Both
89 Votes, or 8.785 %
by Casual Observer
Wednesday Aug 11th, 2010 7:17 PM
I saw you on the news. So the damage to the statue is "no big deal"? That damage is yet another fine example why the city will NEVER remove the Camping Ban! You all did a great job in showing everyone how the homeless-by-choice (or travelers) treat an area. HUFF and Ed Frey have ruined anyone's real chance of ever changing that ordnance. You do understand that, right?