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Updates from Occupy Santa Cruz: Relocation to the Courthouse
Updates: OSC has moved to the Courthouse steps (on Water Street) for the night due to a children's charity fundraiser at Mission Plaza tomorrow. The courthouse steps will be the home of OSC for the night, and location will be discussed further at the GA tomorrow at 4PM. Waiting on a head count, but it looks like the overnight occupiers have grown in number for our second official night.
20+ campers our first night, and already more our second night! So much collective excitement and inspiration throughout the growing community. The march generated much talk and excitement through Santa Cruz and being on Mission Hill today got us a lot of very positive attention and encouragement! In deep gratitude for our Occupy Santa Cruz community, thank you all!
We now have two easy-ups as well as several signs lining the courthouse steps on water street #occupysantacruz #occupytogether
#occupysantacruz 12 cops running us off, sheriffs.
#occupysantacruz we have been told we can't be camping but are allowed to assemble. We are staying.
After unloading and setting up from our move, we now have been forced to load everything back up. All we have now are our numerous signs. We won't be allowed to sleep here tonight yet here we are. We currently occupy Santa Cruz on our feet. We are socializing and making music. Our van and truck are loaded with food and our bedding.
We've just now consensed to go sleep nearby.. and taking some amount of items from the vehicles to make the campers comfy and fed in the morning. .. ... imagine, we are still going around and around even now.
I left Occupy Santa Cruz [OSC] an hour ago. When I left, deputies had forced a takedown of all food facilities, even insisting that "only one water bottle" could be on the property, according to one protester. Lt. Amy Christie also ordered a "no sleep" decree, threatening arrest under PC 647 e--punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $1000 fine.
OSC delegated mild-mannered Casey to be police liaison. When 10 uniformed deputies arrived to demand everyone leave with signs, tables, canopy, food,...and people, Casey and others negotiated the right to stay with signs as long as there were no sleeping bags, blankets, cooking equipment, or other structures.
The deputies threatened to cite, arrest, and jail under 647e, the "anti-lodging" law used to convict PeaceCamp2010 activists last year, which Linda Lemaster and Chris Doyon still face jury trial for. Sgt. Hansen insisted that anyone at any time could be directed to leave the county property if they did not have the permission of "the owner", the County Administrative Officer, Susan Muriello. Activists ridiculed this position since it meant that any protest could be stopped at any time with such a threat.
This, of course, has been whaf PC 647e has been regularly used for--in San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, and Santa Cruz.
Originally Sgt. Hansen demanded everyone leave the property or they'd be arrested and their property confiscated. Casey requested time to assemble with the 25 people there to reach a decision. Lt. Amy Christie arrived and agreed that the protesters could keep their signs. As Hansen directed the tables and chairs be removed, another activist confronted Christie demanding to know how the presence of tables and chairs, protest implements, constituted "lodging".
Christie relented and directed they be allowed to remain. She added to me, however, that if anyone fell asleep on the property bound by the bike path running between the river and the courthouse, Water St., Ocean St., and the University Inn, they would be subject to misdemeanor arrest. Did this include on the public sidewalk (city not county property)? Yes, it did.
Another activist said he'd been told a different story by Christie--that if a few folks fell asleep while most were picketing or holding signs, that would be "okay".
An earlier evacuation of the Mission Plaza area was precipitated by legal adviser Steve Pleich's conveying an open threat from acting SCPD Chief Steve Clark. Clark contacted Pleich and told him that a Children's Benefit on Saturday morning would be threatened by the presence of the protest. Pleich warned in dark tones that Clark had told him activists would be arrested if they were or their protest material were in the park after 8 AM (even though the Children's Benefit reportedly didn't start until noon). Pleich added somberly that Occupy Santa Cruz had no lawyers or legal back-up and if folks slept there that night, they would likely be subject to wake-up's and possible Sleeping Ban ticketing. Pleich has been doing a lot of positive pinch-hitting, helping to chart and lead yesterday's march, facilitating general assemblies, doing legal research. On this issue, however, I strongly disagreed with him.
I was upset by his amplification of Clark's veiled threats--based to some extent on my experience with this particular police officer who has a history of bullying and historical abuse of homeless people. Knowing Clark and police enthusiasm generally for shutting down strong political protests, I think the OSC flight in response to Clark's threats that ended up being a futile "out of the frying pan and into the fire" journey.
Ironically, I agreed that the County Courthouse location was a better one than Mission St. Plaza (it has day bathrooms, more space, less likelihood of neighborhood complaints, and significant visibility) but felt that succumbing to police threats would exhaust and demoralize the protest. Ultimately, this was the decision of the General Assembly and the decision of those who stayed the night (I was there until 3 AM last night and midnight tonight).
I can understand folks' desire not to be arrested--which I share. However if the alternative is to have the protest shut down or completely marginalized, the choices become even harder.
Of course, once the General Assembly, frightened by Pleich's account, voted to move immediately and got their whole assembly disassembled and reassembled in front of the County Building on Water St., the deputies trotted out to demand they leave or be arrested. Perhaps, on reflection, this attempt to meet police demands does have publicity value as showing the activist wilingness to compromise and cooperate and the ultimately unreasonable position of the police and sheriffs.
The whole thing seemed likely scripted. I wouldn't have been surprised if it hadn't been arranged in advance between the SCPD and the Sheriffs. Sgt. Hansen admitted to me that they were anticipating our arrival.
"A confrontation can be delayed but not avoided," predicted Christopher Doyon. "They might as well start arresting now."
OSC activists, however, are a hardy and hearty bunch. By 12:30 PM, a weary Doyon reported by phone that the number of supporters had risen to 50 and a General Assembly was ongoing. Passing cars were honking support. Neither police nor deputies had returned. And no one at the protest was visibly sleeping.
See "OccupySacramento will stay until midnight Friday" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/07/18692640.php . and http://occupysac.com/ .
See "OccupySF Resists Raid by Police and City Workers After Midnight, 10/6/11: video" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/07/18692600.php .
See "San Jose City Hall Occupiers Await Arrest in Wee Hours" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/08/18692686.php and http://occupysj.org/ .
See "Occupy Santa Barbara Protesters Arrested After Police Enforce Curfew, Park Closure" at http://www.noozhawk.com/article/100511_occupy_santa_barbara_protest_arrests
On the Up side: http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23occupyLA and http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/04/business/la-fi-occupy-la-20111004
General Assembly! Saturday, October 8 at 4pm. We will gather at the Soquel steps of the courthouse. See you there!
The courthouse steps face Water Street (not Soquel Ave).