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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons
Resisting Repression from Bigoted Businesses and City Hall
City Council will be doing a final vote on the "Forbidden Zone" expansion, "metering" the benches (setting a one-hour limit), and "don't pay three infractions, go to jail" 7 PM Tuesday February 10th. It's only item on the evening agenda. Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom (HUFF) will be Copwatching downtown at 5 PM in front of Borders and then moving to City Hall to provide some hot soup and hot response to City Council at 6:45 PM.
I wrote about the closed process, absurdity, and bigotry of the proposed ordinances previously ("Fast Track for New Repressive Ordinances" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/01/26/18565877.php "Show Us Your Correspondence, Madame Mayor" http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/01/29/18566872.php).
Mayor Mathews has not made it clear if organizations (and specifically HUFF) will be allowed to make a five-minute presentation as we did at the first reading, though I specifically made such a request last week. She did make available her Mayoral correspondence, previously withheld from the public, which she held up and waved in a folder at City Council.
Also available at the reference desk in the Main Library are scores of e-mails (perhaps hundreds) sent to City Council in a campaign possibly orchestrated by the Santa Cruz Neighbors (the group Councilmember Lynn Robinson organized and used to get elected), the Downtown Association, the Downtown Management Corporation (the group that funds and monitors the "Hosts" that serve as the nose, eyes, and ears of the PD downtown), the Chamber of Commerce, and the Lower Ocean Business Association.
Closed meetings abetting this fast-track process of endorsing police crackdowns on the visible poor downtown (in the name of better business practices or "ending abusive behavior) appeared as early as November. See "Police/Merchant Crack-Down Downtown: Resistance Meetings Saturday and Sunday" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/11/15/18551237.php?show_comments=1#18553390
More recent critical stories about the ordinances have appeared in the City on a Hill Press at
Also, check out The Cournalist (previously The Courant Times) at
Good Times did an interesting piece at
I've played audio discussion of the ordinances with Councilmember Beiers (http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb090208.mp3 --towards the end of the audio file
Vice-Mayor Rotkin's comments in a healthy exchange can be heard at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb090201.mp3 towards the end of the audio file
If I have the stomach and space for it, I'll be playing Councilmember Lane's comments on a future show. I thank all three Councilmembers for taking the time to speak to the public about them and face strong criticisms. I denounce all three for continuing to vote for ordinances that have nothing to do with abusive behavior per se and serve instead to crowd and criminalize poor people in Forbidden Zones.
RESPONDING TO REPRESSION
This "done deal" which will be ratified tomorrow night unanimously by City Council needs to be exposed, resisted, and publicized. HUFF is organizing for larger protests in March encouraging shoppers to "Think Twice Before Buying From Bigoted Businesses".
The real issues here are police harassment, selective enforcement, and laws that criminalize the poor--which are currently on the book (such as the Sleeping Ban, the current oppressive Downtown Ordinances, the Park and Levy Closure-at-Night laws, the Parking Lots and Garages Trespass law, Permit Parking Zones that ban homeless vehicles midnight to 6 AM, and the Drug Prohibition Hysteria Laws). To raise these issues effectively and challenge institutional hate crime, we need to document systematic police violation of basic human rights.
This was done in Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego and effectively ended nighttime Sleeping Ban laws there. Successful lawsuits against police "probation stops" were also successfully undertaken by the ACLU there. (Unlike our local ACLU which refuses to even recognize the problem)
The community successfully regained and defended public space that the Coonerty-Matthews Council of last year wanted to seize at the Drum Circle next to the Farmer's Market. We now have a larger job before us. However, the notion that the City can spend huge sums of money on police enforcement downtown (ticketing people for innocent but now illegal behavior) is one that the local community will ultimately not tolerate. Likewise, tourists advised that they're contributing their bucks for knickknacks at stores that endorse laws that effectively target the poor for "being visible" and sitting, sparechanging, tabling, or performign on the public sidewalk may decide to spend precious elsewhere. We'll see.
A flier will be posted shortly encouraging folks to come on down tomorrow to Copwatch and City Council. Even though the Council will rubberstamp this business bigotry (which does nothing to address real abusive behavior), it heartens those who have been victimized in the last year's cop crackdown to show up and speak up.
And Jumbogumbo Joe Schultz will be serving his slurpin-good vegan soup. Perhaps we can have a Councilmember dunking, though that would be a waste of tasty food. Folks might also consider bringing spare shoes to "donate" to city council as the Iraqi patriot Muntazer al-Zaidi did to the visiting President Bush (see http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jy8aSBQyoZY5JWxvLssnwEEVMTzQ ).