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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons

Dressed Down Attorney to be Dressed Down in May--Ed Frey's Contempt Hearing Postponed
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Apr 25th, 2012 5:23 PM
Homeless advocate, Occupy Santa Cruz activist, and long-term civil rights attorney Ed Frey was slated to appear in court Friday (4-27) to answer "contempt of court" charges for failing to wear a coat and tie in the trial of Gary Johnson, the activist convicted of 2 years (suspended sentence) for sleeping outside the courthouse with a sign "Sleep is Not a Crime" protesting the city and county's anti-homeless laws and policies. That hearing has been postponed.
ORDEAL POSTPONED
I spoke with Ed by phone a few minutes ago.. He told me his new court date for the showdown (dress down?) with Judge "Grim Gavel" Gallagher will be Friday May 18 1:30 PM in Dept. 2. The public defender representing him is Michele Lipperd. Ed's not sure of the code section of the direct criminal contempt charge, but thinks the likely penalty is 5 days in jail.

He explained that the reason he dressed informally was (1) in solidarity with his client Gary Johnson, who appeared (at his own insistence) in jail pajamas and (2) he'd heard a potential juror say during jury selection, "it looks like the homeless got together and bought themselves a fancy lawyer"; to correct that misimpression (Ed is far from fancy and far from well-to-do), he chose a simpler dress style.

Ed initiated the PeaceCamp2010 protests that probably forced the City Attorney to change a section of the Sleeping Ban, which now requires him to dismiss citations if an individual is on the waiting list for the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center or the River St. Shelter.

ED CONFRONTED THE HOMELESS (LACK OF) SERVICES CENTER NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO
Since homeless shelter has always been available for less than 10% of the homeless population in Santa Cruz (and it's worse now that the Armory is closed), more enlightened localities, spurred by lawsuits, have simply directed police not to cite under their Sleeping Bans at night (Los Angeles, San Diego). Not Santa Cruz, of course. A year and a half ago, Ed made a presentation to the HLOSC Board of Directors (on which sit Mayor Don Lane and unindicted Santa Cruz Eleven co-conspirator former Mayor Katherine Beiers). He urged the Board to direct ifs warm, fuzzy, and bright Director Monica Martinez to have a staff member just advice cops, homeless, and community at night if there was any shelter there. His proposal was ignored.

After the "dismiss if on the waiting list" amendment was made to MC 6.36, we asked (in a suggestion endorsed by Councilmember Tony Madrigal) that "receipts" be given out documenting that someone was on the waiting list to essentially advise police that they shouldn't roust that person at midnight. In spite of Monica's lies about this matter (most recently at the Project Homeless Connect event), no homeless person that I've heard of has been able to secure such a receipt.

Frey also provided the first all-night portapotty open to the public for the protest, out of his own funds, personally hauling it down each night, and storing it during the day to give homeless people (more than 50 eventually gathered to sleep/protest in the area) the decency that the city and county have refused to provide.

Activist Becky Johnson (one of the Santa Cruz Eleven) has written extensively about Ed's brave activist work at http://www.beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/search/label/Ed%20Frey .

TODAY'S VICTORY
For those who wonder why I continue to refer to the "Santa Cruz Eleven" when Judge Burdick dismissed charges against four of us, I note that D.A. Young immediately snapped she'd be recharging two and may recharge the other two. Burdick, hailed as a hero by many, declined to sanction the D.A. for obvious misconduct (repeatedly delaying or withholding discovery, presenting documents not available to the defense--not to mention her constitution-crumpling conspiracy theories that would punish peaceful protest or even innocent proximity with felony vandalism and conspiracy to vandalize and trespass).

Empowering this kind of malicious prosecution is only likely to persuade Young to doggedly repeat--more carefully this time--the same nasty process, which she was able to march past Judge Stephen Sillman in the preliminary examination of Alex Darocy and Bradley Stuart. See "Two Courts Cream the Constitution" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/27/18710213.php

This struggle is far from over. But there are the beginnings. Written statements of support for the Santa Cruz Eleven (WILPF, Phil Crawford of the National Lawyer's Guild, the ACLU) have been endorsed on an on-line petition that has more than 1000 signatures (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/549/146/902/11-people-are-facing-2-felonies-each-sign-the-aclus-statement-of-support/ ).

The real crimes of Wells Fargo continue to receive focus. (See "Demonstrators Confront Wells Fargo Shareholders" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/04/24/18712046.php ) Some refused to be intimidated by the unusual Foremost Flood of Felonies in the Country Score racked up by DA Bob Lee and continue peaceful direct actions. May 1st--a day of labor solidarity and women's rights is on the horizon. Ignore your rights and they'll go away.