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Homeless activist and lawyer jailed for six months for Sleeping Protest
Homeless activist Gary Johnson--repeatedly ticketed and arrested in the 3-month long PeaceCamp2010 protest against the Sleeping Ban at the County Courthouse--was sentenced to 6 months in jail and taken there in chains. Activist-attorney Ed Frey, who initiated, supported, and was arrested, during the protest was jailed at the same hearing today. Judge Gallagher refused to suspend sentencing pending appeal, denied a motion for a new trial after several jurors complained of juror misconduct, and declined to answer Johnson's question "how can I take probation to obey all laws, when you've defined "sleeping" as lodging to the jury, making it a misdemeanor crime? How can I not sleep for six months during probation?"
I got a phone call this morning from Becky Johnson who was at court for what Gary Johnson (no relation) and Ed Frey thought was a hearing on their motion for retrial in the case of four defendants (Frey, Johnson, Collette Connolly, and Art Bishof).
After denying the motion, Gallagher announced he was also holding a sentencing hearing, which may violate the rights of the defendants--since, I'm told, there has to be advance notice of a hearing. He initially sentenced Frey to 400 hours of Community Service and 3 years probation, which Frey refused. Gallagher then sentenced Frey to 6 months jail (the maximum sentence). Johnson was also given the same sentence. All this is a second-hand account from the eye-witness testimony of Becky Johnson who was in court.
Apparently the ante for those who peacefully protest the Sleeping Ban has been raised to half a year's jail time. Recent modifications in the City's Sleeping Ban law that provide for dismissal of tickets if one has signed up for a "Waiting List' at the Homeless Services Center. (See "Camping Ordinance Revisions Pass at City Council" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/09/16/18658837.php ).
Frey has been an outspoken and principled activist who provided nightly portapotty support for the homeless protest (a first in Santa Cruz), something even the City was unwilling to provide. He has been a regular pro bono defender of homeless victims of the Sleeping Ban like Robert "Blindbear" Facer (see "Mayor Mike Rotkin debates Ed Frey on Free Radio Santa Cruz at http://peacecamp2010.blogspot.com/2010/07/mayor-mike-rotkin-debates-ed-frey-on.html ).
Gary Johnson continued the principled protest against the Sleeping Ban as others tired, retired, or fell away. SCPD and Sheriff's Deputies adopted a variety of new repressive measures against him and those activists that continued the protest (see "Lights, Camera, Tickets! Klieg Lights at City Hall--Throwing Light on the Shelter Shortage" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/19/18656364.php
Frey's debate with former Mayor Rotkin can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/08/18652988.php .
Six months in jail (even four months for "good behavior") is likely to cost Ed Frey his law practice and his home.
Becky Johnson should be writing a more extensive account of the shocking court repression shortly.
Those interested in supporting Gary and Ed can contact HUFF at 831-423-4833 or e-mail me at rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com .
VEHICULARLY HOUSED ACTIVIST CROW ANNOUNCED HE WOULD BEGIN A MORNING PROTEST AT THE COURTHOUSE FROM 7:30 AM TO 9 AM MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.