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Ground Zero Gary Under Attack; OSC Re-Emerging; Mayor on Free Radio Tonight!
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Thursday Jan 5th, 2012 6:03 AM
Tireless and unrelenting activist Gary Johnson has become more overt in his nightly sleep protest at the County Courthouse, occupying a bench in the traffic island in front of the main entrance where he nightly tries to bed down, often with no more than warm clothing after sheriff's deputies have stolen his sleeping bags and blankets. Meanwhile on another side of the building 2-3 dozen Occupy Santa Cruz long-timers assembly nightly at 6 PM to plan direct actions, receive report on continuing court challenges, and disobey CAO Susan Mauriello's unique and repressive 7 PM-7 AM curfew at the courthouse. The City and County apparently hope to"discourage" OSC presence and homeless protest sleeping by banning all parking nearby, instituting harassing First Alarm security patrols, and continuing to make misdemeanor arrests around the complex at night for "lodging" (PC 647e) and "trespass" (PC 602(o)), and mesh-fencing off large areas of grass. It's not working. Mayor Lane will respond to questions (or not) tonight on Free Radio Santa Cruz.
No need to wait to be declared an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” (Obama's version of Bush's “unlawful enemy combatant”) under the newly-signed Military Defense Appropriation Act (MDAA) to be swept up and held for political protesting. What the FBI, CIA, TSA, or Homeland Security hasn't gotten around to doing, our own local sheriffs will do—free of charge—if you follow in the sleeppath (snooze swath?) of activist Gary Johnson.

Armed and tax-payer funded gunmen have given Gary Johnson scores of citations for his insistence as a homeless man on the right to sleep somewhere (as distinguished from anywhere and everywhere) and jailed him half a dozen times. Gary paid for three months of continuous protest in 2010 at the Courthouse and then City Hall with a jail sentence of six months. He and attorney Ed Frey served two weeks in the county clink this summer prompting renewed protest by supporters. , was released when bail on appeal was dropped from $50,000 to less than $150, but still faces 5 1/2 months behind bars when the appeal fails. This is

Gary Johnson has been arrested three times in the last eight days for “trespass” under PC 602(o) and PC 602(L) in the last week—for sleeping with a "Sleep is Not a Crime" protest sign (currently in sheriff's lock-up).

On the second arrest, they left his sleeping bag and personal possessions in a heap on the ground to be claimed by however was willing to brave the recently posted "no trespass" signs that now garnish the entire county courthouse area. Gary wasn't sure if they were trying to be helpful to him (by having his sleeping bag waiting for him hours later when he got out) or helpful to some passing stranger (by passing it on).

Several nights ago when deputies threatened him with a fourth arrest, Gary suggested "let's negotiate". He explained he "wasn't with Occupy Santa Cruz" but simply trying to sleep in an area where he had maximum protection (of both constitution and armed constitution-crushers, I guess). They suggested he go anywhere else "out of sight". Deferring, Gary trooped over to City Hall, but then found criticism from others sleeping there, fearing he'd expose and so eliminate their sleeping spot. So back he went to the County building.

When he was awakened again with sheriff's demanding to know why he was back again, the peripatetic protester explained he was doing so out of concern for other sleepers at City Hall. All homeless people are criminalized in the City's Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a) which bans sleeping after 11 PM on all public property. At the courthouse, Gary was only jeopardizing himself, since even OSC-ers have largely abandoned nighttime sleeping there with the flurry of First Alarm guards, "no trespass" signs, and "no lodging" arrests.

Gary Johnson is a homeless activist already convicted of “illegal lodging” (PC 647e) in the summer of 2011 for a sleep protest with Peace Camp 2010 the year before. was sentenced to 6 months in jail. The details of lodging law

When confronted with the offer to serve a probationary period instead, Johnson didn't refuse, but asked Judge John Gallagher, “you have asked me to agree to 'obey all laws'. Yet sleeping anywhere outside in the city on public property is a crime. I'm homeless. Where can I sleep?” To which Gallagher replied, “you can sleep in jail.” Johnson was remanded to jail on $50,000 bail (to be posted if he wanted to be freed pending appeal). Two weeks later Gallagher discovered he'd apparently not checked the bail schedule carefully enough—the actual bail being $110—and Johnson was released until his appeal was decided (sometime this spring).

Gary notes he's been sleeping circumspectly around the courthouse for months, but has only recently decided to re-emerge with a sign in a visible location. He can be found there nightly (or in jail, depending on the wishes of the sheriffs), often without bedding. Blanket and bag donations are welcome, though he advises folks that they may not get back what they give, since it's held "as evidence" or is otherwise inaccessible.

He tells me he's reviewed recent court cases. They tell him that the area around the county courthouse is a park and what the court's call a “public forum” with maximum protection for First Amendment activity. So how can Susan Mauriello arbitrarily—without any kind of action from the Board of Supervisors or the people—simply eliminate the right to be on the County grounds at night? (Perhaps the same way that Parks and Recreation Director Dannettee Shoemaker could with a stroke of the pen declare City Hall a "no go" zone at night in 2010, or circumvent a federal court hearing on the San Lorenzo campground by declaring the homeless camp there an "emergency" requiring an "evacuation" prompting the destructive paramilitary SCPD raid of December 8th)

At Mauriello's instigation, County officials have posed “no trespass 7 PM to 7 AM” signs, apparently intended to drive away Occupy Santa Cruz activists at night. Two have been arrested, and two more cited. Gary isn't a part of Occupy Santa Cruz. His protest predates it by more than a year.

His issues include the right to raise political issues in public places for a redress of grievances. However more basic is the right to sleep at night—denied to homeless people in Santa Cruz city by the city's municipal ordinances (MC 6.36) and by the punitive use of the state “anti-lodging” law, which allows any cop to declare any public property off-limits unless the person sleeping there can produce proof he has “the owner's permission.”


After several weeks of winter thinning, numbers of folks attending the 6 PM General Assembly are rising. Reportedly 40 on Wednesday night. Persistent voices in OSC are calling for the General Assembly to be moved indoors, reduced in frequency, or otherwise relocated and revamped. Others, though faced with the County's destruction of the Octodome and 24-hour protest in front of the courthouse on Water Street want to continue the protest in its visible location with an eye to re-occupying.

Also at issue is a struggle in federal court over the River st. Campground. True--the park has been stripped of tents and protesters, thanks to the Vogel-dozing of the San Lorenzo Campground that destroying the survival community of 200 homeless protesters. (Kevin Vogel is the Santa Cruz police chief who authorized the December 8th "crush and destroy" mission that compacted homeless surivval gear).

But attorney Ed Frey and homeless legal adviser Steve Pleich returned from federal court in San Jose Tuesday with the news that the Court is still considering the constitutional issues involved and has given them an extra week to turn in their legal papers challenging the City's campground-crushing. Pleich is also working on an Injunction to lift the County's curfew against night-time protest.

Direct-action gnomes apparently removed the obstructive orange mesh walling off the lawns on both sides of the Occupy Santa Cruz assembly area on the steps on Tuesday night (though the mesh had reappeared on Wednesday). Some were reminded of the guerrilla war against Sgt. Harms 2008 campaign against the downtown Drum Circle. That weekly celebration was located next to the Farmer's Market for a decade, until it was paved over by Manthri Srinath's coffee kiosk under trees where once children danced, Food Not Bombs fed, and the community played. (See "No More Fences at the Santa Cruz Farmer's Market Drum Circle " at

Upcoming direct actions by OSC being discussed in and out of the General Assembly are a "mass meditation", a Saturday stroll to yet another local bank in search of justice, and a weekly radio satire show clarifying the true features of Santa Cruz politicians around these issues. Not to mention the ever-present prospect of re-Occupation as the weather grows warmer and the economic crisis more intense.

Some OSC-er's are regularly meeting with HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) activists on Wednesdays (10 AM - noon, Joe's Pizza 1207 Pacific Ave.) to track police harassment downtown (the bicylists got the full force of six motorcycle cops yesterday in repeated stops and citations). Homeless folks facing Sleeping Ban or other abuse by authorities or discrimination by the Homeless (lack of) Services Center are invited to attend or call HUFF at 423-HUFF.

Occupy Santa Cruz and Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom activists will be grilling Mayor Don Lane live later today on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.3 FM ( on your computer) 6:15 PM to 7:30 PM. Call-in at 831-427-3772 or 831-469-3119 to get the Mayor's perspective and give him yours.

Read his heartfelt words supporting the homeless at . Then observe the kind of police vandalism he supports at . See also "Sleeping Ban Sign-Offs: HUFF Activist Coaxes Answers From Vice-Mayor Lane!" at & "City Manager and Vice-Mayor Stonewall OSC Activists" at

Help the mayor overcome the confusion and the community break through the bullshit with your phone calls.
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Lane Radio Interview ArchivedRobert NorseMonday Jan 9th, 2012 3:28 PM
Viewpoint Discrimination is a crime.GFriday Jan 6th, 2012 11:48 AM
The Political History of Don LaneBob LamonicaFriday Jan 6th, 2012 6:56 AM
It May Be a "Public Forum"....DWThursday Jan 5th, 2012 12:00 PM