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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Are Public Safety "Activists" Planning to Shame Drug Addicts and Needle Users?
by Santa Cruz Progressive Newswire
Sunday Sep 29th, 2013 3:19 PM
Public safety "activists" in Santa Cruz recently began planning a protest against those they believe are creating hypodermic needle waste in outdoor and natural areas locally. One individual has suggested shaming clients outside of the county's needle exchange office, where drug users may obtain clean needles when they turn in used ones. In a Facebook discussion, Chris Brown said, "What about taking pictures of those going in and out and posting them to a web site in an effort to shame them? I admit it seems rather creepy and low but????"
needle_free_zone_santa_cruz_county.jpg
needle_free_zone_santa_cr...

They are members of the Facebook group "Needle Free Zone - Santa Cruz County," and those planning the protest include many well known names: Ken "Skindog" Collins, Valerie Abbott, Samantha Olden, Kim Gardner, Meriah Campbell, Janell Whiting, Ellie Chapman, Chris Brown (not to be confused with Santa Cruz Clean Team admin Chrissy Brown, who is also in the group but did not comment on the plans for a protest), and Lewis Roubal.

Some members of Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County say they are still angry that in March, members of Take Back Santa Cruz "softened" down a protest march that went from from Harvey West to City Hall. The protest was originally to include a stop by the Homeless Services Center (HSC), which Samantha Olden said was supported by Ken "Skindog" Collins. (Collins has been the subject of controversy more recently after he was captured on video poking and yelling at a homeless person at a clean up event with the Clean Team in March of this year)

The idea to stop at the HSC was scrapped. Olden said the protest was, "softened up into the event that took place."

"I agree that we need to get loud and more demonstrative," she said, "that we are "mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore". We pay for the hsc and needle giveaway with our hard earned tax dollars. I personally want a refund! And will not vote for anyone that isn't willing to close the "exchange"."

The group is similar to, and includes members of, other public safety groups in Santa Cruz that focus on the litter and waste associated with homeless drug addicts (and homeless people in general), such as The Santa Cruz Clean Team and Take Back Santa Cruz.

Like the other groups, Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County is somewhat myopic in its understanding of the issues surrounding homelessness and needle use, and members of the group rarely talk about people on the street who are diabetic and sometimes need to use syringes when in public. Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County members have distributed and stuck stickers all over public spaces in the city that say "Needle Free Zone." Apparently no consideration has been given to those who need to use syringes for various personal medical reasons.

Kim Gardner said in the protest thread, "...obviously pictures and data and speaking at meetings aren't changing anything."

"People NEED to get their needle bubble popped," Meriah Campbell said.

"Cleaning isn't working," Janell Whiting said.

The idea of shaming individuals who are attempting to access the needle exchange, a legal medical service, and to plan a protest for the location of the exchange seems remarkably similar to the political agitation and violence that occurs at abortion providers.


The American Civil Liberties Union says Needle Exchange Programs (NEPs) promote public safety, and offers the following reasons:

* In 2002, NEPs reported removing nearly 25 million used syringes from communities.
* According to the Centers for Disease Control, the one-time use of sterile syringes remains the most effective way to limit HIV transmission associated with injection drug use.
* A study by the National Institutes of Health found that NEPs “show a reduction in risk behaviors as high as 80 percent in injecting drug users…”
* NEP participants have been found five times more likely to enter drug treatment than those who had never used an exchange.
* NEPs throughout the country have reduced HIV transmission rates by one-third to two-fifths.
* An analyses of a New York State-approved NEP found that during a 12-month period, an estimated 87 HIV infections were averted as a direct result of the use of needle exchange.
* Injection drug users who are afraid of being arrested while carrying drug paraphernalia are 1.74 times more likely to share syringes, and 2.08 times more likely to share injection supplies than other users.

( http://www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform/needle-exchange-programs-promote-public-safety )


Conversation about the planned protest as discussed in Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County:

Kim Gardner
So, I didn't say anything on TBSC because I didn't want to get in trouble but, I really think it's time to take to the streets and have a protest. I like when Ellie stood by the 'Welcome to Santa Cruz' sign shaking a container of needles. I'm thinking having people all up and down Ocean Street, a few of us at each spot, with signs and found needles.
I know that the City Councils hands are tied and I'm not sure the County Supervisors are going to give a shit, but, obviously pictures and data and speaking at meetings aren't changing anything.
Share · September 9 at 11:14am
8 people like this.

Valerie Abbott I'm so in!
September 9 at 11:18am · 3

Samantha Olden When the TBSC march from Harvey west to city hall was being planned the original idea that I had and was being supported by Ken SkinDog Collins was to meet at Harvey west, walk past the hsc and along the river levee as a representation of the areas that we most need to take back. It was softened up into the event that took place. I agree that we need to get loud and more demonstrative - that we are "mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore". We pay for the hsc and needle giveaway with our hard earned tax dollars. I personally want a refund! And will not vote for anyone that isn't willing to close the "exchange".
September 9 at 11:25am via mobile · 7

Kim Gardner I just drove up Capitola Ave from 7th and thought that it we should also have people there and from 7th/Soquel on up towards the flea market.
September 9 at 11:34am via mobile · 2

Meriah Campbell Date and Time!! Let's do this!! People NEED to get their needle bubble popped;)
September 9 at 11:58am via mobile · 5

Sara Schell I'm all over being on Ocean St with a sharps container and sign!
September 9 at 12:00pm via mobile · 2

Chris Brown I'm in too. Whatever Ellie says I'm down with. I would also like to know what people think about protesting outside the needle exchange itself? What about taking pictures of those going in and out and posting them to a web site in an effort to shame them? I admit it seems rather creepy and low but???? I don't know.
September 9 at 12:06pm · 5

Kim Gardner I think it should be on a Sunday and we should keep the found needles instead of turning them in so we have lots for people to shake in a bottle. I really like the idea of people protesting at different spots around town.
September 9 at 12:44pm · 1

Lewis Roubal Time and Place I'm in just PM me when. We need Maximum Exposure and this is a great forum to do it i. Squeeky wheel.....
September 9 at 1:11pm

Sarai Thomas-Brown I'm down!
September 9 at 2:17pm via mobile

Patti Barich Schell I have a full container (large) of found needles sitting in my garage.....
September 9 at 2:18pm · 2

Meriah Campbell I don't think posting pictures is a good idea, but definitely a protest in front of the needle exchange!!
September 9 at 2:29pm via mobile

Ellie Chapman So lets get permits and do this right. If we want a big march again I'm down. Lets get together and talk. I don't want trouble but yes another something big should be done.
September 9 at 3:21pm via mobile · 2

Kim Gardner I wasn't thinking a 'march' but more of people all around town during a specific time and day holding up signs and such.
September 9 at 3:24pm · 3

Ken SkinDog Collins Why protest to the public? 99% already agree with us. Why not protest the County Supervisor meeting tomorrow at 9am? I am going in with my sharps container and i will be rattling away with it. If we fill up that room with 30 people demanding change, we will see progress. Come join me.
September 9 at 3:49pm · 3

Ken SkinDog Collins
Ken SkinDog Collins's photo.
September 9 at 3:51pm

Ellie Chapman Skinny most of us can't take off work. I know I can't. Do u want to met with me and maybe come up with something? One thing is for sure the public is behind us but a lot don't know about needles. At least that's what I'm finding out or the acceptance is ok.
September 9 at 4:04pm via mobile · 3

Meriah Campbell The meeting is unfortunately during my morning school drop off:( but if people are able to PLEASE go and represent!!! Remember to make a call to the news;)
September 9 at 4:11pm via mobile · 1

Ellie Chapman Anyone of u can make the supervisors meeting please go and shake ur sharps
September 9 at 4:11pm via mobile · 1

Kim Gardner O.K...just read Ken SkinDog Collins post in TBSC about how inattentive the Supervisors were at this mornings meeting (sorry I didn't make it...I'm in the middle of moving and I was exhausted this morning).
This protest ball is rolling...stay tuned for details!
September 10 at 12:11pm · 1

Janell Whiting So when are we doing this?? I want to get noisy.
September 21 at 10:39am via mobile

Janell Whiting I don't care about being nice and polite anymore. That isn't working. Emails aren't working. Meeting aren't working. Cleaning isn't working. Lets do it! (Cleaning as in, they still don't care, after all this shit people clean)
September 21 at 10:41am via mobile

( http://www.facebook.com/groups/needlefreezonesantacruzcounty/permalink/324130474397997/ )

Comments  (Hide Comments)

California Health and Safety Code Section 11364, for starters.

Equal enforcement should require law enforcement to enforce the law on these 'activist' scofflaws, even if the needles are used for free speech purposes.
by G
Sunday Sep 29th, 2013 4:39 PM
Is the 'Welcome to Santa Cruz' sign (still) a legal place to fly signs?
by Observer
Monday Sep 30th, 2013 12:25 PM
G, what section of 11364 do you think they'd be violating?
by Good Point G
Monday Sep 30th, 2013 2:13 PM
They should be disposing of those needles properly, not threatening people with them.

I would be pretty grossed out and angry if these people were shaking those dirty needles at me.
by Trip Weir
Monday Sep 30th, 2013 2:23 PM
Well, they must not be violating 11364(a), (b), or (c), because 11364(d) says, "This section shall be inoperative until January 1, 2015."

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=11001-12000&file=11364-11376.5

But I think he was trying to say they shouldn't be carrying syringes not for personal use unless they're "in a container that meets state and federal standards for disposal of sharps waste."
by ANON
Monday Sep 30th, 2013 4:36 PM
Aaron Whiting, the husband of Janell Whiting who was referenced above, has responded to this article:

"You are a coward..... Use your real name. You have no problem "showcasing" others."

Whiting has a famous name to protect, he is related to the owners of Whiting's Foods...aren't they famous locally for selling junk food at the Boardwalk? Talk about enabling junkies locally....

Others referenced in the article:

Ken "Skindog" Collins, who harassed the homeless person in the Clean Team video:

Santa Cruz Clean Team Scandal Video with Faces Obscured
http://youtu.be/NMTYSZocv4k

Chrissy Brown has now chimed in on the thread.

Kim Gardner of TBSC pointed the finger at SC Clean Team admin Chrissy Brown as being the one in the Clean Team video that called the homeless guy that Ken Collins poked a "parasite" while he yelled at him.

Kim Gardner said this in the Facebook group Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz:

"That video is an example of frustration gone horribly wrong. Chrissy Brown was the person in the background yelling that the man was a "parasite". Yes, it was shocking. And it still is. Ken has apologized for his actions profusely. Is this enough? It's better than denial. And hopefully it's made him more humble."

http://www.facebook.com/groups/463105420413280/permalink/581165281940626/

Samantha Olden has been promoting the "Santa Cruz Strong" self defense classes sponsored by Take Back Santa Cruz.
by Aaron whiting
Monday Sep 30th, 2013 6:04 PM
If you're going to quote me use the whole thing....

"This is to the anonymous "indybay reporter."

You are a coward..... Use your real name. You have no problem "showcasing" others. This has nothing to do with diabetics as you referenced. Diabetics can not utilize the NE.

People are sick and tired of finding needle litter everywhere. You have an issue with people protesting or gathering to support the reduction in needle litter finds in our community? Hypocrite..... and feel free to quote me on your "article.""

Not sure why you reference whitings foods... I haven't worked for the family business in a while. They are a great company that help our local youth develop strong work ethics.

Thanks,

Aaron Whiting
by Petra Kropotkin
Monday Sep 30th, 2013 11:28 PM
Kim Gardener and Aaron Whiting and Ratdog Collins have been on Steve Pleich's CFfAB for a while and this debate raged on and off periodically. Ratdog recently seemed upset that CFAB had people that would actually dare disagree with him and that he couldn't bully, so he's left the group for now.

Samantha Olden is TBSC's point person on trying to counter the impression of TBSC as bullies. If anyone noticed, TBSC was actually allowed by the mainstream "diversity" center to march in this year's Pride parade and TBSC used the theme, No Bullies. Irony. Running with this, TBSC is funding scholarships for women young and old to take self-defense and anti-bullying courses. (Given D. Greiner's past presence in and hero worship by the group, extra irony).
*****

I see anti-needle people in 3 main camps:

1. People who are morally or emotionally opposed to NEP no matter what.
These are people who disagree with NEP because they see drug use as a sin, or because it's illegal that NEP is illegal or what I call the emotional opposition to NEP because someone grew up in family with drug addicts who used needles and so NEP is a deeply hurtful wound and trigger that they still harbor. People in group 1 are not ever likely going to change their POV.

2. People who are opposed to NEP but who aren't aware really of what it's about, who are influenced by strongly negative friends, media, loved ones.

These are people who might be open or even supportive of NEP if they actually knew what it was. But because strong and constant negative reportage in local media and positive local NEP educational efforts fall way short, they go with the crowd and voice a negative opinion of it. I believe this is actually a large group of people, but the problem, as always is how to get the truth out into the public and how to allow people to have a rational and not emotional and bullied debate.

3. People who are opposed to NEP because of how it impacts or how they perceive the program impacts them.

Some of these folks are rational and could be worked with depending on what sort of actual proof or evidence would show (for instance in Santa Cruz...what are the real sources of found syringes. There is no current way to track where a found syringe is coming from ---NEP, drug store or online. ) But many of these people are being fueled by rage and fear attacks by certain groups and media outlets who are telling them that NEP is absolutely the source. Given the emotional connection to the issue I don't really expect these folks to stop in their opposition to NEP.

A number of the anti-NEP activists I've come into contact with online (and in person) also deeply involved in the TBSC political and ideological movement in town. For the most rabid, there is simply no amount of factual information one can provide that will change their POV because their agenda is much bigger than NEP. You can see that their war is much larger than found needles, watch their language in how they refer to addicts (they're junkies) as well as their conservative and reactionary language regarding poverty (poor people don't work hard enough), the homeless (they brought it on themselves), those that disagree with them (we're called anarchists, enablers, criminals, supporters of criminals) etc.

Not everyone opposed to NEP is falling into this camp, but unfortunately many of the so-called leaders and activists do. It takes what could be a rational debate over health care practices and disease prevention and substance abuse and turns it into an ideological war clouded by judgement and contempt.
by Response
Tuesday Oct 1st, 2013 9:01 AM
The article is about the different ways members of Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County may be shaming those who use syringes in our community.

One member of Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County suggested directly shaming those with the disease of addiction by protesting outside of the needle exchange when individuals are seeking health services.

Another member of the group has now suggested shaming addicts by dressing up as Zombies.

A perhaps unintended consequence of Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County is the shaming of diabetics.

Placing "Needle Free Zone" stickers in public spaces may communicate a message to some diabetics that they are not allowed to administer their medication in public.

Locally, one anti-needle advocate reported seeing someone shoot up with a syringe out in the open at the restaurant Margaritaville in Capitola, and complained in an online forum that that person must have been doing heroin.

Someone pointed out that it was more likely a person with diabetes.

It is rare to see any mention of diabetes in the anti-needle, anti-junkies online forums. One individual who has been active with cleanups of public spaces in the county, however, has documented interactions with a homeless person who has diabetes, and how that person copes with needle waste issues.
by Observer
Tuesday Oct 1st, 2013 10:06 AM
Addicts need to find a vein, usually in the arm.
Diabetics typically administer in the belly or leg, and do not use a tie-off - it's just stick and go. They also draw their insulin from a small bottle and don't have to cook it, or they may have one of the fancy new pen type injectors.
Pretty easy to distinguish between the two.
Where did someone say they saw a person shooting up outside Margaritaville??
by Needle Protesters
Tuesday Oct 1st, 2013 12:22 PM
I think using dirty needles to make rattlers is a pretty clever idea.

Needle protesters could also write messages on cardboard with the human feces found.

Think of the impact this would have!

I suggest wearing a face mask and gloves when making the signs, and when protesting please be respectful enough not to bump into anyone.
by ANON #101
Tuesday Oct 15th, 2013 12:19 PM
Kim Gardner
So, I didn't say anything on TBSC because I didn't want to get in trouble but, I really think it's time to take to the streets and have a protest. I like when Ellie stood by the 'Welcome to Santa Cruz' sign shaking a container of needles. I'm thinking having people all up and down Ocean Street, a few of us at each spot, with signs and found needles.
I know that the City Councils hands are tied and I'm not sure the County Supervisors are going to give a shit, but, obviously pictures and data and speaking at meetings aren't changing anything.
Share · September 9 at 11:14am
8 people like this.

Valerie Abbott I'm so in!
September 9 at 11:18am · 3

Samantha Olden When the TBSC march from Harvey west to city hall was being planned the original idea that I had and was being supported by Ken SkinDog Collins was to meet at Harvey west, walk past the hsc and along the river levee as a representation of the areas that we most need to take back. It was softened up into the event that took place. I agree that we need to get loud and more demonstrative - that we are "mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore". We pay for the hsc and needle giveaway with our hard earned tax dollars. I personally want a refund! And will not vote for anyone that isn't willing to close the "exchange".
September 9 at 11:25am via mobile · 7

Kim Gardner I just drove up Capitola Ave from 7th and thought that it we should also have people there and from 7th/Soquel on up towards the flea market.
September 9 at 11:34am via mobile · 2

Meriah Campbell Date and Time!! Let's do this!! People NEED to get their needle bubble popped;)
September 9 at 11:58am via mobile · 5

Sara Schell I'm all over being on Ocean St with a sharps container and sign!
September 9 at 12:00pm via mobile · 2

Chris Brown I'm in too. Whatever Ellie says I'm down with. I would also like to know what people think about protesting outside the needle exchange itself? What about taking pictures of those going in and out and posting them to a web site in an effort to shame them? I admit it seems rather creepy and low but???? I don't know.
September 9 at 12:06pm · 5

Kim Gardner I think it should be on a Sunday and we should keep the found needles instead of turning them in so we have lots for people to shake in a bottle. I really like the idea of people protesting at different spots around town.
September 9 at 12:44pm · 1

Lewis Roubal Time and Place I'm in just PM me when. We need Maximum Exposure and this is a great forum to do it i. Squeeky wheel.....
September 9 at 1:11pm

Sarai Thomas-Brown I'm down!
September 9 at 2:17pm via mobile

Patti Barich Schell I have a full container (large) of found needles sitting in my garage.....
September 9 at 2:18pm · 2

Meriah Campbell I don't think posting pictures is a good idea, but definitely a protest in front of the needle exchange!!
September 9 at 2:29pm via mobile

Ellie Chapman So lets get permits and do this right. If we want a big march again I'm down. Lets get together and talk. I don't want trouble but yes another something big should be done.
September 9 at 3:21pm via mobile · 2

Kim Gardner I wasn't thinking a 'march' but more of people all around town during a specific time and day holding up signs and such.
September 9 at 3:24pm · 3

Ken SkinDog Collins Why protest to the public? 99% already agree with us. Why not protest the County Supervisor meeting tomorrow at 9am? I am going in with my sharps container and i will be rattling away with it. If we fill up that room with 30 people demanding change, we will see progress. Come join me.
September 9 at 3:49pm · 3

Ken SkinDog Collins
Ken SkinDog Collins's photo.
September 9 at 3:51pm · 1

Ellie Chapman Skinny most of us can't take off work. I know I can't. Do u want to met with me and maybe come up with something? One thing is for sure the public is behind us but a lot don't know about needles. At least that's what I'm finding out or the acceptance is ok.
September 9 at 4:04pm via mobile · 3

Meriah Campbell The meeting is unfortunately during my morning school drop off:( but if people are able to PLEASE go and represent!!! Remember to make a call to the news;)
September 9 at 4:11pm via mobile · 1

Ellie Chapman Anyone of u can make the supervisors meeting please go and shake ur sharps
September 9 at 4:11pm via mobile · 1

Kim Gardner O.K...just read Ken SkinDog Collins post in TBSC about how inattentive the Supervisors were at this mornings meeting (sorry I didn't make it...I'm in the middle of moving and I was exhausted this morning).
This protest ball is rolling...stay tuned for details!
September 10 at 12:11pm · 1

Janell Whiting So when are we doing this?? I want to get noisy.
September 21 at 10:39am via mobile

Janell Whiting I don't care about being nice and polite anymore. That isn't working. Emails aren't working. Meeting aren't working. Cleaning isn't working. Lets do it! (Cleaning as in, they still don't care, after all this shit people clean)
September 21 at 10:41am via mobile · 1

Aaron Whiting This is to the anonymous "indybay reporter."

You are a coward..... Use your real name. You have no problem "showcasing" others. This has nothing to do with diabetics as you referenced. Diabetics can not utilize the NE.

People are sick and tired of finding needle litter everywhere. You have an issue with people protesting or gathering to support the reduction in needle litter finds in our community? Hypocrite..... and feel free to quote me on your "article."
September 30 at 10:57am · 9

Meriah Campbell Amen Aaron Whiting!!
September 30 at 11:07am via mobile · 3

Ellie Chapman I do wish diabetic could us this program!!!! Thank you Aaron Whiting . To the Indy story writer please come and talk to me and stay the night at my house I will show u how the program effects my neighborhood with 55,000 needle walking past my house. Last week I found a needle in my neighbors yard. Is this a good thing? You seemed to forget all the facts in what is happening here in my neighborhood.
September 30 at 11:13am via mobile · 3

Meriah Campbell Remember the women who posted in TBSC saying her diabetic husband tried to exchange his needles and was turned away because he wasn't a drug addict?!? So basically the needle exchange is for junkies...
September 30 at 11:52am via mobile · 2

Samantha Olden Yes and isnt it refreshing to see how the indy bay coward has so much energy to defend the rights of junkies to march the path of destruction ?
September 30 at 11:55am · 2

Meriah Campbell So what needs to happen for a protest march you be legal and safe !?!?
September 30 at 12:00pm via mobile · 1

Meriah Campbell You= to
September 30 at 12:01pm via mobile

Sarai Thomas-Brown Here! Here! Aaron! Exactly!
September 30 at 1:46pm via mobile

Janell Whiting State your name coward.
September 30 at 3:45pm via mobile · 1

Chrissy Brown The second link in that Indy calls for us to be arrested with the needles, free speech or not, I mean seriously?
September 30 at 4:21pm · 1

Sarai Thomas-Brown Hahahahaha! Now that's hilarious. Hahahahahahahah!