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Deputies Stage Midnight Roust at PeaceCamp2010; Warn of Tickets to Come
Saturday night, Lt. Plageman appeared at PeaceCamp2010 to warn sleepers that there'd be a squad of brownshirts roaming the area and "warning" folks to move on. Several days before, the Deputy County Counsel had written a letter to attorney, activist, and portapotty provider Ed Frey, warning him that the County building was within city limits and subject to the City's abusive 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban law. Homeless Services reportedly confirms there was zero walk-in emergency shelter available last night--and won't be until November. Nonetheless, about an hour later, Plageman's Posse returned in force.
I was sleeping in my vehicle when Plageman's and four other uniformed deputies began interrogating a Spanish-speaking sleeper about 20' from my car--parked directly in front of the Courthouse. I got out and began audio recording the midnight marauders--who were shining flashlights on each successive sleeper, requesting ID, taking photos, and giving the warning that "it's illegal to sleep in the city."
To give the late-night lawmen their due, they didn't seem to happy about their job. When some, advised by other activists that they didn't have to give info or show their photos, declined to do so, the deputies moved on (after some persistent questioning). They ignored the few women at the camp and didn't question those who were already awake and about.
Curbhugger Chris, dorm-daddy of the domain, reported that about 10 sleepers left after the initial warning from Plageman. I noticed another 10--mostly Spanish-speaking slumberseekers--leaving after the Plageman's Pack swept through the sleepers. Curbhugger reported that Plageman had assured him there'd be no tickets and arrests that night, and that there would be more warnings before any tickets were issued.
Attorney and Activist Ebullient Ed Frey, when awakened by the deputies, told them that they were engaged in illegal conduct, disturbing the peace of innocent people. Since even if and when tickets were issued, they would ultimately be dismissed by the courts. Commissioner Kim Baskett and Judge Ariadne Symons have publicly stated that they regularly dismiss charges when presented with a letter from the Homeless Services Center stating the shelters are full. But since the courts, the HSC, the deputies, and the police already know they're full and will be full until November, the act of issuing a tickets amounts to a form of premeditated harassment, according to Frey.
Curbhugger reported 45 stayed the night and predicted that many would continue to resist the threats in the belief that the Constitution guarantees the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Denying people the right to sleep at night if they are homeless--with the intention of running them out of town--is just such punishment in my view.
Pictures of the early morning August 1st sweep will ultimately be posted at photobucket and video links that can be found at http://www.peacecamp2010.blogspot.com.
I did a long show this morning on the PeaceCamp predicament at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb109801.mp3 (about half an hour into the audio file).
Go to the peacecamp web address to contact them and offer help. They want food, blankets, computer access, and volunteers.
Put yourself on a phone tree to come down and witness or be in solidarity if they are again harassed by the deputies or police.
More info also at HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) at 831-423-4833.