Sheriff Wowak's deputies have stepped up their campaign to crush the peaceful on-going protest of Occupy Santa Cruz on the steps of the courthouse on Water St.
Authorities have moved from threats, to "lodging" tickets, to seizure of property without charges or receipts, to a new Curfew on the Constitution. In an unprecedented move Sunday night--without any public debate or Supervisoral vote, armed sheriffs announced no peaceful protest would be allowed 7 PM to 7 AM.
This closure of the County property to peaceful public use and 1st Amendment activity is both unwarranted and unconstitutional.
The General Assembly of Occupy Santa Cruz consensed Monday night to support activists going to the Board of Supervisors to urge the public to stop this latest authoritarian grab of public space.
On Sunday morning 60 riot police showed up in riot gear,jack boots, and body armor with batons drawn. See "Santa Cruz Co. Sheriff's Dept. Dismantles Occupy Santa Cruz Geodesic Dome and Structures at Courthouse" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/04/18701700.php
They destroyed the "Occu-Dome"--a structure set up to provide protection for protesters from the rain and cold and storage for their literature. They seized property and personal effects from protesters without giving receipts.
Twelve hours later, they suddenly announced that even sitting on the steps with a sign in front of the county building would be adjudged a "trespass" crime and subject the "criminal" to 6 months in jail and/or $1000 fine.
Two men who maintained a vigil there all through Sunday night and Monday morning were arrested, handcuffed, and jailed.
The city has simultaneously announced it will be deporting and dispersing the several hundred Occupy Santa Cruz campers in San Lorenzo Park, many of them homeless, in the dead of winter with no alternative shelter available. This latest mass expulsion is slated to take place 5 PM Wednesday December 7th, Santa Cruz's own Day of Infamy.
The federal court in San Jose has delayed action on an earlier Public Nuisance claim by Barisone and city lawyers intent on crushing the protest, requiring the City to come to court in early January to address issues of freedom of speech and assembly.
Rather than wait for this lawful process, City Attorney Barisone and Parks and Rec boss Dannettee Shoemaker have moved to shortcut the constitution and administratively declare the encampment a Public Nuisance--without any judicial review or legislative process.
See "Police Serve Eviction Notice for Wed. 5pm on Occupy Santa Cruz in San Lorenzo Park" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/05/18701842.php
Even those not happy with some aspects of this protest should recognize the seriousness of these new Constitution-clipping measures for all future protests, regardless of who is doing them.
Come on down to the County Building tomorrow at 9 AM to speak out against these undemocratic actions.
Check out occupysantacruz on facebook. Support actions on Tuesday--a National Day of Housing Takeovers.
Attorneys and those with legal expertise should contact Ed Frey (479-8911) and/or Steve Pleich (466-6078).