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Community members protesting local laws that criminalize homelessness held their third group campout at Santa Cruz City Hall on July 26. Several dozen people slept in the City Hall courtyard from sunset until the following morning, when they were greeted with a large buffet-style breakfast served by a fresh-faced group. Organizers have more sleep-ins planned for the future, with the next confirmed for Sunday, August 2
, again at Santa Cruz City Hall.
The July 26 sleep-in was preceded by campouts held on July 4 and July 19, which were organized after the Homeless Services Center (HSC) announced in June it was having severe budget issues and would be losing a significant amount of state-administered federal funding. As a wide variety of day services were being discontinued, a coalition of homeless rights groups joined together to host a series of free breakfasts next to the center. The City Hall campouts were the next step in the response, and are now focused on the broader issues surrounding the criminalization of homelessness.
Participation at the community campouts is an act of civil disobedience because it involves the violation of multiple local ordinances that outlaw sleeping in public. For one, the court yard at City Hall is closed to the public between the hours of 10pm and 6am, however the primary ordinance in the Santa Cruz municipal code focused on at the protests has been the camping/sleep ban. The camping ban prohibits sleeping in public with or without setting up bedding in the City of Santa Cruz between the hours of 11pm and 8:30am, and the ordinance also criminalizes sleeping in cars.
The next sleep-in is planned for August 2: Freedom Sleepers Resume Protest at City Hall
Read More: Community Sleep-ins Continue at Santa Cruz City Hall | Despite Heavy Police and Security Presence, Campers Make it Through the Night at City Hall
Previous Coverage: Community Campout Ends with Citations
The Humanist Hall, home to the Fellowship of Humanity on 27th Street in Oakland, is being attacked by newcomers who live in condos built right next door only about ten years ago. The Humanist Hall has opened its doors for countless radical and under-served organizations over the past 75 years, from the Black Panthers to Mexican baptisms, from transgender weddings to Oscar Grant movement events. It's an Oakland social justice and cultural resource run by a group of generous people. The Fellowship's creed is simple: "The world is my country, to do good is my religion."
Yet now it is being labelled a public nuisance by the City of Oakland because newcomers to the neighborhood have repeatedly complained. An online petition calls on Mayor Libby Schaaf to “encourage condo owners and renters to respect the social norms of the neighborhood – our neighborhood – that they have moved into.”
City of Oakland Declares Humanist Hall a Neighborhood Nuisance, Issues Huge Fines |
Oakland's Humanist Hall Declared a Nuisance by City |
Founding member of the First Friday Oakland Art Murmur, Rock Paper Scissors Collective writes:
Eleven years ago, downtown Oakland was home to mom and pop shops, socio-economically diverse, occasionally dangerous; a sometimes eccentric, sometimes wonderful, and always dynamic community. A group of artists, crafters, organizers and makers found a vacant little storefront among a sea of vacancies. With a little volunteer elbow-grease and fundraising effort, the Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPSC) was born — a destination where the community could come together, organize, share skills, knowledge and create. ALL were welcome in the space.
Now, after more than a decade in the same location, we are being forced out of our space on Telegraph and 23rd to make way for a new vision of the transforming neighborhood. The Collective’s long time landlord plans to charge market value for the space, well beyond what we can afford as an all-volunteer run nonprofit. Eleven years ago we could afford market value for the space, but thanks to our success in building a vibrant community in downtown, market rate is now far out of reach. The increase will more than triple our current rate.
As of August 31st, RPS community arts space will be without a home. Our lease is being terminated after ten years at the same location. Only with the help and support of the community can we continue to ensure a safe and open space for everyone.
Read More |
Rock Beats Paper: On the Connections Between Art and Development |
A Defense of the RPS Collective and a Critique of the Critiques |
Another Contribution to the Dicussion of the Artists' Role in Gentrification
The Muwekma Farm thrived at the corner of 31st and International, across the street from the Native American Health Center. For two months, various supporters planted over 50 plants, including squash, tomatoes, jalapeños, kale, huckleberry, oregano, and arugula. On July 9, however, the City of Oakland and OPD descended on the farm and destroyed every single plant, raised bed, and bench. They even destroyed the few plants that remained along the edges of the land. The farm was located on 1.5 acres of unused land owned by the City of Oakland. Despite the support of the neighborhood, the city decided it did not want fresh fruit and vegetables growing at that location on International Blvd.
Muwekma Farm writes:
We have no specific date for retaking the land, but when we do there will be another announcement. But to those who would like to support the farm in the future, our main request is to start as much organic corn seeds as possible right now. Our next event was going to be the planting of corn, but obviously our plans have changed. To those who desire a world free of environmental destruction and economic slavery, we would like to remind you that there is an inordinate amount of vacant land in the City of Oakland.
Muwekma Farm Destoyed by City of Oakland and OPD |
Video of Muwekma Farm and Call for Future Support |
Muwekma Garden work party
On July 14, three of the remaining Santa Cruz Eleven defendants agreed to a plea deal with the prosecution, and the last remaining member of the group followed suit at his hearing on July 22, bringing to a close the Occupy-era case that has been slowly moving along since 2011. Defendants entered pleas of “no contest” to a charge of misdemeanor trespass. The felony vandalism charge was dropped.
On July 4, community members in Santa Cruz held a public campout at Santa Cruz City Hall, but it was quickly cut short by police at about 1am. The campout was organized in response to the recent reduction of services at the Homeless Services Center that occurred due to a funding deficit, as well as to protest local laws that criminalize sleeping outdoors.
The campout began in the early evening with about 25 people setting themselves up to sleep in various locations around City Hall's courtyard. Some snuggled into free sleeping bags, and others ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, both of which were provided by the organizers. At 1am a group of 22 police officers arrived at City Hall. Some of those who were sleeping quickly rose and avoided being cited, but others refused to move in an act of civil disobedience.
At least eight individuals were issued infraction citations for refusing to leave City Hall. Those cited include homeless activists Rabbi Philip Posner, Abbi Samuels, and Robert Norse.
Read More with Photos | See Also: On the Eve of Protest: Letters to and From Councilmember Micah Posner
| "Homeless Lives Matter" Back For Fourth Meal Preparing for July 4th CampOut
Previous Coverage: Residents Respond to Withdrawal of Homeless Services Funds in Santa Cruz
In June, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released its report: "Medical Services at the Jails: How Does the Sheriff Coroner Manage Oversight?" Since 2012, Santa Cruz County has outsourced its jail medical services to the private for-profit corporation California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG). The Grand Jury has found that there is, "a lack of transparency and accountability on the part of CFMG and there is insufficient oversight by the Sheriff Coroner’s office."
The Homeless Services Center announced in June that due to the withdrawal of State administered federal emergency funds, they were laying off workers and a large portion of the services they offer would most likely be eliminated if alternative funding was not found. Shortly after the announcement, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released a new report titled: Recipe for Failure: Shrinking Budgets and Increasing Needs for Emergency Homeless Shelters
The Grand Jury report recommends that, "facilities, funding and staffing of all emergency shelters in the city of Santa Cruz be reassessed to adequately meet the acute needs of the persistently high homeless population. Additional case managers are needed to facilitate the transition of homeless individuals out of shelters. More grant writers are needed to access untapped funding opportunities."
In response, members of Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs have held a series of emergency breakfasts in front of the Homeless Services Center, and they also are planning to participate in an upcoming community camp out. The group organizing the camp out consists of members of a variety of organizations, including Food Not Bombs, HUFF, residents and refugees from the Coral St. complex, UCSC students, Camp of Last Resort workers, the Homeless Legal Persons Assistance Project, and others.
Human Rights Under Attack in the City of Santa Cruz
Homeless Lives Matter: Building Towards Justice
Santa Cruz Grand Jury Report Details Increasing Need for Emergency Homeless Shelters
Unsheltered Lives Matter
On May 24, the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs was marked with a six hour party in Santa Cruz. Those needing nourishment were greeted with live music and an especially celebratory atmosphere, in addition to free food, a free market, and a variety of other free services.
By combining social and environmental justice activism, nonviolent direct action, and a philosophy that emphasizes sharing over charity, Food Not Bombs has differentiated itself from other global organizations that distribute food to the hungry. The organization is comprised of hundreds of autonomous, volunteer-supported chapters that share free vegetarian meals with the hungry around the globe. There are no leaders running Food Not Bombs; local groups use the consensus process.
Hundreds of meals were shared over the course of the six hour celebration in Santa Cruz. A private solar shower booth was set up, and stylists cut people's hair for free. Books, clothing, and plant starts were available as part of the free market. A number of bands and musicians performed together and separately, and social justice organizations set up informational tables. Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry was in attendance, and his birthday was also incorporated into the celebration. Food Not Bombs volunteers joined hands with other revelers to capture and roll McHenry into a giant human cinnamon bun.
Read More with Photos | Food Not Bombs
On May 23, families and loved ones of people in solitary confinement, and advocates from community organizations, held the third Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California. In Santa Cruz, about 25 people rallied at the entrance to the Municipal Wharf, where locals and tourists found two large banners, storyboards exposing the realities of solitary confinement, signs, and educational literature about solitary confinement in Santa Cruz and California.
The first successful Santa Cruz County referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, and was to go into effect on May 15. Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county. 7,248 valid signatures are required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.
The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer announced just two months ago that glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto's pesticide RoundUp, is probably carcinogenic to humans. The time was ripe to demand a ban on the herbicide with protests internationally on May 23. In San Francisco, many demonstrators dressed as bees and butterflies, while others portrayed mutated evil Monsanto managers.
On May 8, approximately 300 people took over San Francisco City Hall to deliver their messages about the untenable evictions that are now occurring in the City. The protest included an ethnic ritual, chants, testimonials by victims of the evictions, and a walk around San Francisco City Hall’s political chambers to deliver their messages personally to the Supervisors and Mayor. The protest was loud and was peaceful. Sheriff's deputies did confiscate the protesters banners.
The Mission District neighborhood is ground zero for the gentrification that is occurring in San Francisco. The coalition on homelessness released a report created from a survey that stated, “Many poor people in the Mission feel vulnerable to police harassment and displacement. Some members of our community, including youth, elderly and disabled people, homeless and marginally housed people, people of color and transgender residents, have been subjected to more intense policing as the neighborhood gentrifies.” The anti-eviction mapping project indicates there has been a 54.7% increase in evictions this year. There have been over 2,000 units evicted in 2015 alone. Many victims of the evictions claim the local government is not doing enough to stop them, so the community has organized and is now taking their message to the Mayor’s front door.
Read More with Video and Photos |
The Mission Takes City Hall!
Related Indybay Feature:
People’s City Council Supplants Oakland City Council To Stop Vote on E12th St Development
On May 5, Black.Seed, Asians4BlackLives, and allies shut down the Oakland City Council and held a People's City Council against a proposed development on East 12th Street. The development, up for a vote at that evening's city council meeting, includes no affordable housing and links to the larger wave of displacement being felt throughout Oakland and the Bay Area. According to the activists, the high-rise luxury condos include one bedrooms priced at upwards of $3,150/month. The condos are proposed by Urban Core and real estate firm UDR. The activists stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, linking gentrification to increased policing, and criminalization of Black and Brown people.
The People’s City Council opened their meeting by allowing impacted individuals from Eastlake and Oakland to speak before the council. Residents, educators, workers, and those displaced, all spoke of their inability to live in the city they call home. The organizers of the event were sure to note that there were no time limits for speakers. Through a megaphone, one organizer critiqued the city council, saying, “We can dream bigger than cops and condos for our city.”
Read More |
People's City Council Steps into Action in Oakland City Hall to Save E12th Street (VIDEO) |
Rally to #SaveE12th - Public Land for Public Good!
Related Indybay Feature:
Housing Activists Take Over San Francisco City Hall
All around the world May Day has been a day for labor solidarity, immigrant rights, direct action, reclaiming the streets, and speaking out against injustice. May Day 2015 in the Northern California was a busy day for actions from San Francisco and Oakland to San Jose and Mountain View to Santa Cruz and Fresno. Call-outs went out for rallies, marches, flying pickets, the shutdown of the Port of Oakland, a tech commute blockade, and an anti-capitalist/Baltimore solidarity march.
6:30AM Sunday Sep 20
Surf City AIDS Ride