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Pledging Non-Discrimination--Round Three--Bunny's Redux

Saturday, June 20, 2009
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Event Type:
Robert Norse
rnorse3@hotmail. com
309 Cedar PMB #14B
Location Details:
On the sidewalk near Bunny's Shoes in downtown Santa Cruz at 1350 Pacific Ave.and its sister store across the street

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) and HRO (Human Rights Organization) in concert with independent activists continue our picketing and protest, which we began three weeks ago.

Police continue to harass homeless musicians Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon--who have no legal place to sleep at night--for the "crime" of sleeping after 11 PM under the City's medieval MC 6.36.010a (the homeless Sleeping Ban).

Bunny's Shoes, Property managers at Borders and the Palomar, and Manthri Srinath, owner of Lulu Carpenters) all contributed to a discriminatory court Injunction, granted last month by Judge Paul Burdick.

This injunction bans Richardson and deLeon from sleeping anywhere in a park or on the sidewalk in the downtown area on pain of jail. City law additionally bans them from sleeping anywhere on public property in Santa Cruz after 11 PM.

It has nothing to do with any kind of real criminal conduct or nuisance behavior like littering, trespassing, disturbing the peace, urinating, defecating, etc. Simply sleeping becomes a jailing offense.

The impact of the decision expands far beyond these two performers, since there are 1500-2000 homeless in Santa Cruz of whom less than 10% have shelter throughout the summer.

Homeless people face $97 citations, police harassment, theft and destruction of their property, and discrimination.

It is piling absurdity upon cruelty to ban sleeping downtown on pain of jail, yet allow no legal place for homeless people to sleep. MC 6.36.010 makes all nighttime sleeping illegal outside on public property already; the Injunction adds a jail penalty to the downtown area for this homeless couple.

Activists will continue presenting their Pledge on Human Rights and Harmony for merchants to display in their windows or in their stores in soldarity if they choose. So far about about 1/5 of the businesses downtown have been approached.

Bunny's management was personally approached yesterday requesting they acknowledge the right of homeless people to sleep not anywhere and everywhere but somewhere in Santa Cruz and post the pledge on their window or in their store in a visible location. They have so far declined to do this, citing "company policy".

While we respect the right of Bunny's to manage its own property, when it supports police action on public property against those that have no choice, it needs to hear from the community--as does every business that supports this kind of "get-out-of-town" bigotry.

The pledge we ask business to support reads: "This business does not discriminate. We support Human Rights for the homeless community. In particular, the right to sleep at night--not anywhere and everywhere--but somewhere." [See ]

In essence we ask downtown businesses to advise the community and their customers that they no longer favor--whatever position they may have taken in the past--turning homeless people into criminals for sleeping--something over which they have no control.

Businesses that have the clarity and courage to do this should be rewarded and those that don't should be questioned.

The stepped-up struggle to restore human rights is a response to stepped-up harassment described in a letter published in this week's Santa Cruz Weekly (formerly the Metro Santa Cruz):

"Thanks for covering the successful resolution of a local human rights controversy at Jack's (“After the Sh*tstorm”, 6-10). Even more thanks HUFF workers Rick, Valerie, and Bernard; to mediator Brent Adams; to Jack's co-owner, Connie Hutchinson ; and to Shiney, Gabe, Christina, Aaron, Daniel, and all the other street activists who helped bring the issues into public view.

These folks made possible the swift and peaceful resolution of homeless discrimination concerns that now need to be addressed more broadly in Santa Cruz.

I also thank Ronee, Tanya, Rev. Joel, Miller,, and the many volunteers at Calvary Episcopal who make their Monday coffeehouse and ministry a truly valuable experience.

It's too bad that their enlightened policy has been now significantly marred by a standing trespass order against homeless-looking people sitting innocently on their laws. The fact that Mayor Mathews led this anti-homeless campaign is an even darker reality. Removing large swaths of public space from use in order to “disappear” homeless people is a bad practice.

In 2007, the Matthews Council, under the leadership of Ryan Coonerty, removed ten square blocks (all the public parking lots and garages) from public use.

Further criminalization of the poor has followed through the constriction of public space on the sidewalks for such harmless behaviors as sitting, peaceful sparechanging, political tabling, and street performing

The latest chapter in this thinly disguised attack on the visible poor is the “No Sleeping” Injunction against two homeless musicians downtown.

I encourage the business community to reject the city-wide Sleeping Ban law, which other larger conservative cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno) have overturned.

Thanks to those stores that have signed theNon-discrimination Pledge. Visitors and residents should ask some hard questions of those that refuse before they spend their money there.

Flyers are downloadable at:

More info on this situation at
Added to the calendar on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 3:55PM
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