6-9 homeless people carried forward their plan to document the lack of shelter in Santa Cruz and then educate the public through direct action tonight. I am told they plan to rally on the sidewalk outside the main post office in downtown Santa Cruz at the intersection of Water and Pacific Avenuen at 9 PM. Anyone interested is invited. Bring a cell phone if you have one to help document. I was asked to pass on this and the following information.
PILGRIMAGE TO CORAL STREET
As planned a week before, the group of people went to the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center at 115 Coral St. earlier this afternoon and requested to be put on the Waiting List for the Paul Lee Loft. They were advised by Charles, a worker there, that the shelters were full but that they'd be put on the Waiting List after filling out an application. When asked if they could get a receipt or some documentation for their Waiting List status, Charles said no, nor would he give them any written statement about the shelter being full.
Other asked Charles the same question and told him that Executive Director Monica Martinez had publicly stated that on request, the HLOSC would provide receipts that one was on the Waiting List. Christine, another worker, and he then agreed to do so. He acknowledged he'd not done so before in the last year.
Since they had no receipts available, HUFF workers provided their own version of a receipt which they'd created, anticipating that the HLOSC wouldn't have any handy. Christine and the HLOSC staff helpfully copied, filled out, and signed them for the 8 or so clients applying, documenting that each person was on the Waiting List for the Paul Lee Loft.
THE IMPORTANCE OF WAITING LIST STATUS
Waiting List status means that camping tickets will automatically be dismissed by the City Attorney's office prior to court, as stipulated by MC 6.36.055. It might also persuade the police of the futility and even impropriety of giving out camping tickets at all, since all such tickets are supposed to be automatically dismissed.
We also interviewed a few workers out there who confirmed that there were no spaces available on the Paul Lee Loft--suggesting that anyone cited for the more serious offense of "illegal lodging" (PC 647e) would have a "necessity" defense in court.
I hope this procedure will be followed by every homeless person so that they can more safely sleep in groups, well-lighted areas, and closer to police protection--given the increased risks homeless people face outside from violence. The procedure again is to go to the HLOSC M-F around noon, sign up for the Paul Lee Loft Waiting List, and get a receipt indicating you are on the list. You then have to check in once a week or your name will be removed from the list.
TONIGHT OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK NEAR THE MAIN POST OFFICE
This group of homeless people claims to have repeatedly been harassed by police and/or rangers for simply being on public property, to say nothing of sleeping. In response, it is my understanding they intend to exercise their right to be on the sidewalk (perhaps another group might call it "Positive Loitering"), even to sleep there, since they have no legal place to sleep.
Two of those involved--Freedom and Andrew--were arrested yesterday and apparently face misdemeanor charges involving something like "disobeying an officer". (See "ALERT: Two Arrested For "Being" in the Pogonip" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/16/18735297.php
) with trial slated for May 14th.)
Activists hope to alert the community to the human rights that are being ignored or trampled. To me these would be (as starters): (a) there is no legal shelter for 95% of the homeless community; (b) police, rangers, and vigilantes are targeting homeless people anyway with false "public safety" concerns; (c) there are no public bathrooms open downtown at night, yet homeless people are blamed for human waste; and (d) homeless people receive a level of over-policing for their very existence under both existing laws and the recent needle hysteria.
The recently formed hand-picked right-wing "Public Safety" Task Force (which includes no homeless people or advocates) is an example of the "wrong road" City Council has taken.
I encourage people to support this demonstration