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ALERT: Two Arrested For "Being" in the Pogonip
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Apr 16th, 2013 5:07 PM
I received the following information by phone a few minutes ago. The charges against the two arrested were not clear, though they may be something like "camping" (i.e. survival sleeping during the day--which is not illegal).

I just received a preliminary report from two of six people who were accosted by authorities in the Pogonip about an hour or two ago. Two others in the group--Freedom of Occupy Santa Cruz and Andrew--were arrested for failing to leave (the charge was unclear). Since it was during the day, the Pogonip was open. One of those I spoke with, Baba, told me that when he asked what their crime was and why they were being told to leave, one of the three officers (a ranger, a SCPD officer, and a sheriff) told him "what if a family with some children came down and saw you here?"

Baba noted that he first found this offensive with the implication that they were "unsightly" because of their appearance (youthful traveling alternative culture folks). Then on reflection he was even more deeply troubled because the officer's comments implied that the area was open to families but not to "his kind".

Baba noted that the officers did not confiscate any property, gave them time to move their stuff (including two dogs), and told them they could "go to some other city". It was still not clear what Freedom and Andrew were arrested for, but I hope to learn more soon.

Freedom had widely announced her interest in convening a meeting to deal with safe and secure sleeping space for the 100 people denied shelter when the Winter Armory Shelter had its last night on April 14th-15th.

The weekly HUFF meeting, as described at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735243.php tomorrow at 10 AM will discuss the situation. All are invited.

I'm attaching a history of criminalization of the homeless from WRAP (Western Regional Advocacy Project), a group of West Coast organizations fighting for the civil rights of those outside.
§Update
by Robert Norse Tuesday Apr 16th, 2013 5:48 PM
I just spoke with Cody by phone--who reported being there throughout the incident. He clarified that the "crime" for which the two were arrested was "being in a closed area" rather than sleeping. Cody's impression was that the officers (he counted two SCPD and one ranger) would have allowed them to go elsewhere in the Pogonip, though not necessarily to sleep the night (the Pogonip is "closed" at night).

According to the police, Cody reported, the two wouldn't be released until Friday. He said he urged the two of them not to be arrested, and was able to persuade one other in the group to leave. Cody said he'd be at the HUFF meeting tomorrow if people want a direct account.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

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We know that over the past 2 months "Freedom" has been wanting to stage an occupation camp that is timed with the closing of the Armory shelter. A noble idea and we commend her, but an occupation camp is highly problematic as we've seen a number of them in the past few years and they result in citations and arrests and put our most vulnerable population in confrontation with law enforcement.

We've seen Robert Norse and Becky Johnson goading this possibility at HUFF meetings.

We at Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp have been in this conversation for the past 2 months. We've proposed a safe space to sleep. We've done research in Portland and Seattle and in other areas of the country where we've found many longstanding Sanctuary Camps that exist with the support (at least tacitly) of the city.
We've produced a video presentation to invite the community to a conversation about working with us to create such a possibility.

Robert Norse, Becky and Freedom have been working at counter purposes of the possibility of creating a safe space and have been moving ahead with their Protest Camp which will be inflicted against the community and will "take space". We feel this hurts the already difficult situation of the homeless and it also hurts the relationship of the community and the homeless. It doesn't highlight the basic needs, instead it takes without asking and begs law enforcement to respond.

We are still moving towards our goal of creating a space that creates safety for homeless as much as it increases safety within the community.

We welcome you to join the conversation.

by Robert Norse
Wednesday Apr 17th, 2013 6:28 AM
Please post any threats, abuse, or violence by police or vigilantes with time, date, and particulars. That's another subject to be discussed at the meeting today and in the days ahead. It would be great to have someone like Brent put together a video documenting recent abuses downtown by police in their massive overpoliceing against homeless and street people. In a separate comment, I'll be posting a form that can be downloaded and used.

I encourage those interested in restoring civil rights to check out the Saturday 2 PM meeting at Sub Rosa. Since folks do have to sleep every night, I encourage people to sleep in groups and seek out one person with a cellphone or other audio/video device a a form of protection and documentation.

If people do plan protests, I encourage them to seek support from housed people including witnesses, video, media contacts, and the prospect of having their property taken.

As outlined in a previous flyer ("Arm the Homeless with Cell Phones... at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735243.php ), issues to be discussed at that meeting include Organizing protection against the new rash of attacks on homeless people; Start a Thug Watch Santa Cruz; Education about the California Homeless Bill of Rights; Discussing the formation of a Homes Not Jails housing occupation movement; Strategies for Responding to the growing knowledge that we are facing another Great Depression.

While I'm a continuing supporter of sanctuary camps established with official buy-in over the long run, I'm not terribly optimistic about this prospect in Santa Cruz, given the history of prior attempts here by individuals as presitigeous and well-funded as philanthropist Paul Lee (the Eco-Village movement of a decade or two ago).

It may be particularly difficult given the ravenous right-wing hysteria of the last year, as well as the increasingly powerful position of toxic NIMBY drive-away-the-homeless groups like Take Back Santa Cruz, masquerading as Public Safety groups.

I don't think there is any magic bullet, but solidarity is a key factor here. If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately, as the old Ben Franklin adage goes.
by WRAP (posted by Norse)
Wednesday Apr 17th, 2013 6:41 AM

The Western Regional Advocacy Project passed on this flyer which is helpful in understanding the California Bill of Rights coming up for hearings later this month. The bill is likely to be weakened without strong public input (and perhaps even with it).

The Saturday 2 PM meeting will include discussion about the California Homeless Bill of Rights.

A colorful summary can be found at http://www.scribd.com/doc/132047094/A-California-Homeless-Bill-of-Rights-2

Some of the text of the bill can be found at http://cchbr.weebly.com/homeless-bill.html .
by WRAP (posted by Norse)
Wednesday Apr 17th, 2013 6:43 AM

This looks to be a useful form. Fill it out and bring it to the Saturday meeting if you'd like.
by Scant facts
Wednesday Apr 17th, 2013 12:04 PM
Hey, if there's no story there, just make one up!

Initial report: No facts, but some second hand info. that they were made to leave for no reason and the cops were rude about it.

Actual facts: They were trespassing, but given the opportunity to leave without citation. They eschewed that in favor of making a political statement though, as they are out of town transients attracted here by our social services and wanting to make a statement.

Way to keep sinking the ship of actual homeless in Santa Cruz while stroking your own ego Norse.
by Mayberry PD
Wednesday Apr 17th, 2013 3:52 PM
From all the media attention SCPD Deputy Chief Steve Clark has garnered on the Sentinel and KION, it is apparent that Clark is preparing for a City Council run in the next election, with the support of Take Back Santa Cruz, on an anti-homeless agenda.

Don't underestimate the damage Steve Clark can cause this town, especially poor and homeless people. I believe Steve Clark aspires to be Mayor of Santa Cruz, a position from which he can spew his hatred without sanction supported by Take Back Santa Cruz.

This possibility must not be taken lightly by those concerned with the civil rights of the poor and homeless.