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Gary Johnson Protests Sleeping Ban for Second Week at Santa Cruz County Courthouse
Gary Johnson, who has previously protested the sleeping ban during the Peace Camp 2010 sleep demonstrations in Santa Cruz, has spent the last week at the Santa Cruz County courthouse in a continuation of the struggle to end the sleeping ban statewide. First motivated by the recent attacks on the right of political protesters to gather peacefully at the county courthouse, Johnson's goal soon focused on California Penal Code 647(e), the state lodging law.
Gary Johnson first began his current courthouse protest on December 28, after reading about the 9th Circuit Court's recent decision concerning public forums. In an interview conducted on January 4, he said, "I heard about the 9th circuit decision and traditional public forums versus limited public forums, and designated public forums, and non-public forums and this [the Santa Cruz County Courthouse and Government Center], as far as I can understand, is a traditional public forum, one of the highest protected forums you can have, and it was being cut off, and I was already upset, so I thought, well, time to come down and protest because that is a bunch of crap, and sure enough with in a half an hour I got the first 602(o) ticket, which is the trespassing, which is purely about why are you here, trying to do a protest."
Johnson's demonstration quickly became about the right to sleep, however. "I'm going to do this until it is legal to sleep," he said.
Johnson has been arrested by Sheriffs deputies three times at the courthouse since December 28, and he estimates that he has received 3-5 tickets, including citations for both trespassing and 'lodging.' He believes the best approach to ending the sleep ban statewide is by attacking the state's lodging law. At the courthouse, Johnson receives nightly check-ins/warnings from Sheriffs deputies at around 10pm, when at that time they inform him they will be back later to issue him citations. By all appearances, Johnson is friendly to the authorities; he wants to be on good terms with the Sheriff's deputies who drive by where he is located regularly each night, as well as with the First Alarm guards who have patrolled the property since the Occupy Santa Cruz camp was destroyed. However, Sheriffs recently gave Johnson an ominous warning, stating that if he was arrested again he most likely would have his bail increased, meaning he might be held in jail for an extended time period of time.
At 10pm, on the evening of January 4, the Sheriffs drove by and gave Johnson the usual verbal warning. Whether it was the presence of media that evening, or Johnson's reduced use of bedding, or that earlier he repaired the fence that was damaged near the Occupy Santa Cruz general assembly location, or even that he continues to maintain friendly banter with both the security guards and the Sheriffs, the authorities did not return that evening, and Johnson remains free to continue the protest.
You can read more about Gary Johnson at his blog:
The 9th Circuit Court ruling Gary Johnson was referring to was Frank Wright v. Incline Village General Improvement District.
A link to the ruling can be found at: