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Indybay Feature
View other events for the week of 4/25/2011
Last Year's Protests Against the Sleeping Ban Go to Jury Trial
Date Monday April 25
Time 10:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Location Details
701 Ocean St. Main Courthouse Dept. 2
Event Type Other
Organizer/AuthorBecky Johnson
Emailbecky_johnson222 [at] hotmail.com
PeaceCamp 6 Face “Lodging” Charges : Jail Not Housing for The Homeless

+++ Eliot Anderson, Arthur Bishoff, Collette Connolly, Christopher Doyon, Gary Johnson, and Ed Frey are charged with multiple counts of “lodging” (PC 647e) for their peaceful protest against the Santa Cruz City Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a).

+++ This law criminalizes 1500-2000 homeless people each night on any public property and much private property. This is in a city that has no walk-in emergency shelter, only waiting lists and space for less than 60 people from in the Paul Lee Loft from April through November. It is also illegal to sleep in your own vehicle at night.

+++ Last Summer HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) and Peace Camp 2010 (PC 2010) established a “safe sleeping zone” serving up to sixty people per night who had no other option. The protest survived repeatedly harassment, tickets, and arrests by SCPD and County Sheriff's for three months. (See http://www.peacecamp2010.blogspot.com/ .)

+++ PC2010 in front of the County Courthouse funded and provided the City's only bathroom facility open at night (a rented portapotty).

+++ In response Santa Cruz County Sheriff's made a series of arrests and made more than 40 citations for misdemeanor lodging (PC 647e).

+++ 647e is unconstitutional for being vague and overly broad. It reads: “Every person...is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor...who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it.”

+++ Dozens of homeless people face misdemeanor 647e charges topped by Failure to Appear warrants for joining this peaceful sleeping protest in July through October 2010.

+++ Former Homeless Issues Task Force Chair Linda Lemaster also faces up to a year in jail and $1000 fine for "lodging" (holding a protest sign) in an early May jury trial.

+++ Jury selection begins on Monday morning. The prosecution is expected to give his opening statement and begin calling his 30 police witnesses on Tuesday or Wednesday. Attorney Ed Frey will be defending himself and his five companions.


READ activist Becky Johnson's most recent summary of the PeaceCamp 6 at : http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2011/04/647-e-anti-lodging-jury-trials-to-begin.html .

FOLLOW the saga of PeaceCamp2010 at http://www.peacecamp2010.blogspot.com/ .

SUPPORT PC2010 attorney Ed Frey with legal and financial assistance at 831-479-8911

DEMAND D.A. Bob Lee end the PC2010 Prosecutions: 831-454-2400

FIGHT BACK against police and court oppression against the homeless. Join HUFF: 831-423-4833 or check out the HUFF meeting 10:30 AM -12:30 PM Wednesdays at the Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific

CONTACT Steve Pleich with the Homeless Legal Assistance Project to help with tickets at 831-334-8692 or meet with him at the Red Church at Cedar and Lincoln 6 PM each Monday night.

Added to the calendar on Sunday Apr 24th, 2011 9:13 AM
§Trial Starts today
by Whitney Monday Apr 25th, 2011 9:16 AM
homelesstrial.pdf_600_.jpg
Jury selection starts today and the trial continues until Friday.

Yes, this is how the city is spending YOUR $100,000.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

I think it was something like $225,000 that the City Attorney was given at the March Council meeting to support its abusive and costly war against the poor downtown by enforcing the Downtown Association's "Downtown Ordinances".

The ordinances were used extensively against Peace Camp 2010 when it moved to City Hall last August. Over 100 infraction tickets were issued to crush the protest.

See "Weathering the Police Storm at City Hall" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657054.php

City Council will be paying its attorneys a similar amount for fighting my attempt to change the Council's repressive rules of procedure and decorum rules (and a greater amount if we win the case at trial as I expect we will).

See "9th Circuit Mandates New Trial in Free Speech "Nazi Salute" Lawsuit Against City" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/15/18666771.php

The case of the mock-Nazi salute goes back to City Council in closed session tomorrow. It will come up in the City Council Conference room (right next to the regular Council chambers) at 2 PM. There is an open interval where I (and other members of the community) will be "allowed" to speak to the Council. Come on down and see how the City Council is spending your money!

For a longer version of Becky Johnson's story on the ongoing PC2010 trial, go to http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2011/04/647-e-anti-lodging-jury-trials-to-begin.html .

by Robert Norse
Monday Apr 25th, 2011 9:59 PM
OVERCROWDED COURTS BUT NO PROBLEM SPENDING MONEY TO PROSECUTE HOMELESS PROTESTERS
The courtroom was crowded with jury members who were questioned mostly by the judge. Judge Gallagher began to bemoaning his overcrowded court schedule with the shutdown of several Watsonville courts and the diversion of drug cases into his court. This overcrowded court lament of course, would have been a perfect reason to drop these cases, had Gallagher actually been serious.

In fact, Gallagher's explanation was an attempt to head off what developed later in the day--jury resentment at the D.A.'s decision to prosecute and the judge's dignifying the prosecution with trial what are essentially homeless cases that really are immediately dismissable under the Necessity Defense (that the defendants needed to sleep somewhere, and nowhere on public property was legal in the city). Why waste everyone's time (thousands of man-hours if you count jury time) in justifying politically motivated 647e arrests (of which there were 40)?

Most of them went to Failure to Appear since homeless people can't afford the luxury of middle-class court appearance games when survival sleep is the issue. Which means more work for the deputies and police and deeper disability for the homeless people so stigmatized and pursued.

NO RIGHTS WITHOUT "PERMISSION"
A bizarre case from the beginning. Judge Gallagher acknowledged from the getgo that the deputies had "allowed" the protesters to camp in front of the courthouse for a month, but suddenly decided it was "lodging" in early August, without there being any change in the law, the signage, or direction from the Board of Supervisors. What suddenly became illegal in early August that was legal throughout July?

The judge did make a show of egalitarianism and respect for the jury by coming down off the bench, standing by the door as the jurors came in, commending them, reassuring them, offering to answer any questions throughout by raised hands. He didn't advise them, of course, of their right to jury independence or nullification--that they are the final judges of the facts and the law.

The case would turn, the judge said, on the prosecution's proving "beyond a reasonable doubt" that (a) the defendants "lodged" (in being present at night on the county courthouse steps with political signs against the Sleeping Ban), many of them sleeping there overnight, and (b) the defendants didn't have "permission" to be there (on what supposedly public property which wasn't posted with closing hours).

JURORS SPEAK OUT AND OPT OUT
I did hear some remarkable statements by a couple of potential jury members that they felt the entire trial was a waste of taxpayer time and money as well as citizen time.

One woman, who said she been the foreperson of a previous jury said she couldn't sit on this one impartially because she felt the whole thing was such a colossal waste of time plus the fact that she saw police wasting still money issuing harassment tickets (as to her two teenage sons) and then ignoring real robberies such as happened to her.

Two other male jury panel members said they'd either lived in their own vehicles in the past and seen the extent of police harassment and were familiar with it, and so couldn't be a part of the trial.

Scores of people were being pulled away from their work, their families, their livelihoods to punish homeless people for publicly and peacefully protesting the city and county anti-homeless laws and establish the kind of safe sleeping zone that the city and county refused to establish.

There were others who said they were too hostile to the "homeless by choice" and those who were "manipulating a political agenda" or too friendly with the police to sit on the jury.

THIRTY (COUNT 'EM, THIRTY!) PROSECUTION COPS EXPECTED
Expected are thirty prosecution witnesses, almost all of them Sheriff's Deputies and SCPD officers--who will be called away from their work in this costly and time-consuming punitive exercise to punish protesters for insisting on raising issues that city and county officials don't like to think about and have refused to address.

Gallagher was the same judge who had denied attorney Ed Frey's claim that the law (647e) was itself overbroad. Overbreadth in Gallagher's court is apparently a virtue for the judge, who told a potential juror, "lodging" means "staying without permission virtually anywhere".

The notion that police can order us away from public property if we don't have "permission" to be there, should raise alarm bells in any member of the community, but to the homeless it cuts especially deep. For those who are holding a picket sign, it's doubly abusive--since it means we don't have First Amendment right son any public property unless we're given "permission".

MORE TOMORROW
Sounds a little like Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria. perhaps?

I left around 2:30 PM and understand the jury selection process continued through the afternoon.

I was told it resumes tomorrow at 11 AM, and is slated to go until 4:30 PM with a lunch break from noon to 1:30 PM.

The case is likely to take two weeks, the judge told the jury panel.
by Lori Franklin
Tuesday Apr 26th, 2011 2:32 PM
I have to be honest and say I rolled my eyes and burst out laughing a few times while reading Robert's comments. He actually acts rather shocked that the case has gone to trial, with witnesses being called and testimony being given. He bemoans the fact that officers are going to be called in off the street to offer testimony, taking precious time away from their jobs. And then you can almost imagine tears welling up in his eyes when he talks about the poor jurors that have to be pulled away from their work to hear this case. The opening salvo of why wasn't this case just dismissed due to court crowding, was particularly humorous.

Robert, this is all being done because it's what you wanted. You wanted the tickets, and you wanted the court case. Chris Doyon was very clear when he said he was looking forward to getting the tickets. Becky Johnson practically salivated when the tickets started coming in. Then you tasted blood and went into a frenzy over the attention you were about to gain. You wanted the tickets so you could have your day in court. Don't be disingenuous and act like you really care about the time and cost.

Speaking of cost, there is one cost I would like to ask you about. What happens if this case does not go as you planned and the homeless folks lose? Who is going to pay their tickets/fines? You and Ed got these guys into it. Did you you have a plan of action to get them out of it? This is your stunt, and I feel that some of the homeless folks will be the unwitting victims of your folly. As it is some of these guys now have FTA attached to their records. That alone can land quite a few of them in trouble if the get asked for ID. Some might actually go to jail for this. Not you, of course. You never got a ticket. Smart move on your part.
by Dave
Tuesday Apr 26th, 2011 7:03 PM
"I think it was something like $225,000 that the City Attorney was given at the March Council meeting to support its abusive and costly war against the poor downtown by enforcing the Downtown Association's "Downtown Ordinances"."-Robert Norse

You know perfectly well that the number is not $225,000. You're just fanning the flames with distortion. Of the $225,000 approved by the council, $125,000 is going directly towards the expenses for legal issues surrounding water at UCSC. Of the remaining $100,000, the money will be spent on legal issues surrounding a known drug house and the potential eviction of the owner (a very expensive process), going after local hotels and businesses for back taxes (another very expensive process), and other cases which include some camping issues. The first two portions are definitely the most expensive. Even if you split the money three ways, that would be $33,000 on legal expenses each, not as you say $225,000 on camping issues. Why do you have to distort everything you say?
by Becky Johnson (posted by Norse)
Tuesday Apr 26th, 2011 10:48 PM
http://beckyjohnsononewomantalking.blogspot.com/2011/04/jurors-near-revolt-in-peace-camp-six.html
by Dennis
Wednesday Apr 27th, 2011 7:31 AM
You know damn well that the City is not spending $225000 on your asinine Bumfest fiasco. So stop trying to pass that off as a fact.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Apr 27th, 2011 7:43 AM
It's hard to estimate the cost of 30 police officers (sheriffs and SCPD) appearing for jury trial this week and next in the bogus "lodging" trial, the expense of sending in city attorneys in the longest ever infraction trial for singing political songs in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz last year, the cost of harassing and prosecuting Wes Modes, the expense of ticketing and appearing in court on "sitting on the sidewalk" and "panhandling silently with a sign after dark"-type tickets, and, of course, the thorough-going harassment of PC2010 homeless sleepers in front of City Hall in August, September, and October (new closed areas, over 100 infraction citations for such "crimes" as sitting, standing, or lying with a political "End the Sleeping Ban"-type sign).

All I know is that a misleading staff report (which didn't acknowledge any homeless costs) was followed by verbal statements (after the agenda item was pulled from Coonerty's "no debate, please!" Consent Agenda by a Councilmember--members of the public are no longer "allowed" to do so).

If I'm in error on specifics, I apologize, but it's clear that a significant amount of money is being spent on homeless and political repression. This is a matter of concern. Unless, of course, you support this kind of abusive governmental behavior.
by It's hilarious
Wednesday Apr 27th, 2011 11:47 AM
Becky's juror's are in "revolt' about as accurately as Becky is a real teacher. Puffery and a half.
by Dave
Wednesday Apr 27th, 2011 2:12 PM
After reviewing the council agenda packet online it is very clear that Robert is engaged in supplying misleading information and statements. The agenda packet very clearly breaks down where the funds are going in the request for a budget adjustment in two separate items. Item 6 asks to adjust the budget due to legal expenses surrounding the city/county/UCSC/CLUE water use case. That adjustment is $125,000. Then there is item 6, which asks for an adjustment of $100,000. This adjustment is for municipal code enforcement. Yes, the item was pulled, and upon verbal explanation it was stated that the additional funds would be used to go after hotels and businesses for back taxes, the case involving the drug house where the owner may need to be evicted, and other municipal violations which can include camping issues. Robert frames this as if the homeless issue was the only item hidden. This is not true, as on the original packet none of the $100,000 was broken down. The original packet only gave a line item adjustment, and did not mention the hotels/business taxes or the drug house. In addition, Mike Tomasi was the only person who spoke out on this item.

So when Robert says "I think it was something like $225,000 that the City Attorney was given at the March Council meeting to support its abusive and costly war against the poor downtown by enforcing the Downtown Association's "Downtown Ordinances"." he's simply not telling the truth. Any sentient being reading the information would know that $125,000 of that money was going to something very specific that has nothing to do with municipal code violations or the homeless.

And when he says it's "hard to estimate the cost" of this trial, he certainly knows for damn sure it's not $225,000, which is how he framed his statement. And once again in his wiggling and twisting to get out of a false statement he starts adding in other issues to make it sound as if they are part of the cost. Why can't this man simply tell the truth and not always distort things?

I don't necessarily approve of the council adding more to the legal fund for the city. But I do expect that if people are going to criticize how the money is being used they should be truthful and accurate with the information they are giving out. Being misleading only damages your argument in the long run.
by Dave
Wednesday Apr 27th, 2011 3:46 PM
I just realized that I wrote down "item 6" two times in my above post. The first one should be "item 6" and the second one should be "item 7".
by Robert Norse
Thursday Apr 28th, 2011 9:03 AM
I accept Dave's specific corrections regarding the one statement he quotes ("$225,000...to support its abusive and costly war").

However, he may agree (or perhaps provide contradicting figures?) that at least has much has been spent (by cops, deputies, D.A. and City Attorney) on the ramped up enforcement prosecution generally downtown, the intensified war against the protest last August, September, and October, and the current judicial charade. Funding police repression against the poor seems to be a significant part of the budget (and high on the list of priorities of the Downtown Association, whose mentality now seems to control the City Council).

Dave ignores the rest of the story--which is the main point--and turns his guns on me. This serves to divert attention from the bigger issue. Does Dave support these trials? Support laws that criminalize the poor?

I believe everything else written above is quite accurate.

Nobody wanted to get tickets. We wanted (and still want) to end the anti-homeless laws. The City and County show the iron fist by pursuing this case as a club against future protests and a blow against homeless solidarity. In the end, it won't work. As authorities in Egypt, Tunesia, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere are finding out.
by Robert Norse
Thursday Apr 28th, 2011 9:05 AM
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/04/28/18678357.php
by DW
Thursday Apr 28th, 2011 4:12 PM
I consider myself progressive on a lot of stuff....

But, I've almost lost patience with so-called "homeless advocates."

Homeless who trespass on private property or enter public property when not permitted are violating the law and should be prosecuted.

Homeless who are mentally ill should have no choice about being treated or taking their medication.

Homeless who are addicted to alcohol or drugs should have no choice about whether they receive treatment for their illness.

by Robert Norse
Friday Apr 29th, 2011 7:45 PM
DW: I probably disagree with you on many of these points.

However, the PeaceCamp2010 trial is around two issues: Whether (a) holding up political signs at night at City Hall and the County Building should be criminalized; and (b) laws that criminalize homeless people at night when there is no legal shelter are cruel and unconstitutional.
by Floriana di San Giacomo
Friday Apr 29th, 2011 10:42 PM
If Robert would be so kind as to answer the following question I would be most appreciative. Do you think anyone participating in a particular act, whether legal of illegal, should be allowed to continue with that act, without police intervention, as long as they are holding a sign denouncing a political stance? Should people be allowed to shoot up heroin as long as they are holding a sign denouncing the camping ban? Should a person be allowed to masturbate on a street corner as long as they are holding a sign denouncing the camping ban? Would those things be considered a political statement by the sheer fact that they are holding, or sitting nest to, a sign?
by Becky Johnson
Saturday Apr 30th, 2011 9:17 AM
640_peacecamp2010aug29_201.jpg
RESPONSE TO FLORIANA: A person shooting up heroin and holding a sign should be arrested for shooting up heroin. But in this case, the protesters were protesting a SLEEPING BAN and they were flying signs, collecting signatures on petitions, lobbying govt. authorities, and SLEEPING at times. So the cops arrest them for SLEEPING.

Do you think SLEEPING (not shooting up heroin or some other REAL crime--i.e. a crime with an actual VICTIM) itself should be a crime? 647 (e) has been defined by the DA, the Judge, and several law enforcement officials as:

sleeping, lying down, covering oneself with blankets, camping, being "settled in", appearing to intend to spend the night, hanging out

Do you think any of these should be an IMMEDIATELY ARRESTABLE OFFENCE generating jury trials and up to 6 months in jail and or $1000 fine?

How could we afford to enforce stopping all of these activities in Santa Cruz County?

It's clear we can't and we won't. So 647 (e) is being SELECTIVELY ENFORCED against ONLY protesters who engage in: sleeping, lying down, covering oneself with blankets, camping, being "settled in", appearing to intend to spend the night, hanging out.

Hence this whole prosecution is unconstitutional and basically a travesty of justice.
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