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Sleep-Out Continues For Second Night
Interviews with Cody, Freedom, and Andrew, three of the visible sleepers who were in last night's protest will be speaking about the issues at the Sub Rosa Cafe Tonight from 8 to 9 PM, and then in front of the post office continuing the Sleep-Out for a second night.
The interviews both lived and taped from last night are archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130418.mp3.
Freedom encourages anyone who wants to contribute food, blankets, or other supplies to come on down or leave a message at 831-423-4833.
I also include a survey that folks may want to fill out and bring to the "Arm the Homeless" forum on Saturday at 2 PM at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific.
SIX TICKETED FOR SURVIVAL SLEEPING IN A VISIBLE SPOT
Zack, one of six people who, he says, slept at the post office steps area last night called in with a report a few minutes ago. They all received "camping" tickets for survival sleeping in a visible area. I call them the Visible Sleepers.
He says some of the folks from the previous night left for the North, but they intend to continue their protest tonight and in the nights that follow.
COPS VIOLATING THE LAW?
He said several police arrived around 6 AM and did ask them if they had Homeless (Lack of) Service Center receipts, but ticketed them anyway with the Camping Ordinance MC 6.36. (subsection 6.36.010).
A key paragraph of 6.36.055(a), a key subsection of MC 6.36, reads
(a) A person shall not be in violation of this chapter [the Camping Ordinance] if, at the time of his or her citation for a violation of this chapter, either: the winter shelter at the Santa Cruz National Guard Armory is filled to capacity; or the person is currently on the waiting list for shelter service through one of the shelter programs offered by the Homeless Services Center or the River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz."
The officers gave citations anyway in apparent violation of the law. They suggested the citations "might be dismissed in court." Zack said the group explained they had nowhere to go, were told the shelters were full, were given a receipt by Christine Younger of the HLOSC so asserting (that is, they were put on the Waiting List), and had no legal place to sleep. Police then left, and they went back to sleep, Zack continued.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Some of the signs they were displaying read, according to Zack, "If every life has value, then why is our life illegal?"
"If safety is a priority in this community, why do we have to fight for a safe place to sleep?" "When you privatize public space, you silence the voice of the very community it was designed for." "Any law against sleep is unjust." And other signs as well. They can be viewed again tonight, presumably, when the protest is slated to resume.
Some locals suggested that to avoid tickets they could leave early in the morning, but Zack noted he told them that the point is we shouldn't have to move since there is no legal place and we're not doing anything illegal. First Alarm "security" thugs arrived after 8 AM and told them they'd have to lie outside their sleeping bags or be ticketed. Freedom initially declined, saying it was cold, but when another woman came up with a problem for First Alarm, she complied in order to facilitate First Alarm's helping with that other problem.
DEFENDING FIRST ALARM THUGS
A police officer advised the group that First Alarm was "just doing their job; they are the middle men between business and the people."
Zack concluded, “We're not trying to incite any anger against us by the police. They spent a lot of time trying to justify what they were doing. They could have been out arresting violent criminals instead of explaining...cause we're peaceful, and we need a place to sleep.”
Camping citations carry a potential fine of $100-200. As mentioned in a prior posting, interviews from last night's Free Radio Santa Cruz show with Freedom, Andrew, and Cody are archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130418.mp3.
There will be a workshop tomorrow led by Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry around broader issues of homeless civil rights (the California Homeless Bill of Rights) and deeper issues of housing (foreclosures and occupying vacant buildings as Homes Not Jails does). At the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific Ave. as mentioned above and described at http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/04/15/arm_the_homeless.pdf .
Andrew, one of the group at the post office last night, says he kept watch through the night (as designated non-sleeper) and noted five not six sleeping tickets were given by police--in spite of documentation shown the cops indicating Waiting List status and hence immunity under MC 6.36.055. He hopes to post some photos of the protest.
Zack reported by phone this morning that two cordial cops ticketed them again--this time with "lying down on the sidewalk" citations. 6 people got those citations ($100-200 or more), and 1 (on the steps of the post office) got a camping ticket.
The officers who cited them advised them that they wouldn't be "on shift" tomorrow morning to "expect a response that might not be so cordial." Zack noted favorably that they didn't insist they leave. He also noted they've been treated better downtown than in the Pogonip--a response he made to Brent Adams, who suggested they move back into the woods where they'd be lless noticeable.
Brent, who stopped by and spoke with the group last night, said he was concerned the public protest would discredit his Sanctuary Camp proposal (see http://www.youtube.com/embed/tBWhgjXrKaY ). He also continued to insist the camp was a "Robert Norse"-inspired production, which the sleepers disputed--to no avail. I made several jokes about the campers being "my minions", but Brent was not amused.
I gave the group with some HUFF flyers, advising people how to sign up for the Paul Lee Loft Waiting List (which should immunize campers from camping citation prosecution if the city follows its own MC 6.36.055). (See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735243.php & http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/17/18735380.php?show_comments=1#18735440 for more info and a copy of the receipt that should be presented to the Homeless Lack of Services Center when homeless folks sign up for the Waiting Lists as documentation that they are on the list).
A particularly chilling analysis of the anti-homeless agenda of Councilmember Pamela Comstock and her Take Back Santa Cruz group can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735243.php?show_comments=1#18735301 .
Zack thought they might take a respite from the sleep-out tonight, awaiting the return of some companions. "We need more people," he noted. Several phone calls to the Sentinel advising them of this protest have gone unanswered.
The group of counter-culture travelers who responded to police repression in the Pogonip by doing a public sleep-out downtown in front of the Post Office spoke to the Saturday afternoon Occupy Santa Cruz group. They noted they had made their point and were worried about suggestions from the SCPD of an increased crackdown that might target their dogs.
Police have also shifted from giving camping citations to "blocking the sidewalk" and "laying on the sidewalk" ciations in a move reminiscent of attacks on protesters for "parading without a permit" in 1960's segregated Montgormery, Alabama.
The sleepers may continue their nightly vigil, but acknowledged that diminished numbers and the growing exhaustion of the group makes it more problematic. Cody, an activist who spoke of prior experience with such protests in Seattle and elsewhere, described their growing difficulties and encouraged people to come down and support the night-time protest, even if only for a short time.
Last Wednesday this group visited the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] en masse and prompted them to give out for the first time documentation that homeless people are on the long waiting list (4-6 weeks) for 46 spaces at the Paul Lee Loft Shelter. See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/17/18735380.php .
City law states that citations for camping will be dismissed if one is on a Waiting List. As activists suspected, it is also questionable for police to even issue those citations if a homeless person can show she or he is on the list--and police have responded (at least against this group) by turning to other harassment tools.
It's too early to tell whether the victory achieved by this group will last. It depends in part whether homeless people choose to continue to demand receipts for being on the small shelter HLOSC Waiting List.
There was universal praise for the persistent protesters at the Saturday Occupy Santa Cruz meeting in front of the main post office along with discussion of the upcoming California Homeless Bill of Rights (scheduled for hearing early this week) as well as the newly-formed Homes Not Jails chapter to investigate occupation of long-vacant corporate housing in Santa Cruz. Occupy Santa Cruz meets weekly 5:30 PM there after the 4 PM Food Not Bombs meal.
There may be further updates on today's radio show 9:30 AM to 1 PM at 101.3 FM (streams at http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/ , archives at http://www.santacruzcopwatch.org/robert/brb130421.mp3).
FOUR A.M. WAKE-UP
Cops reportedly came around 4 AM Sunday morning and gave out a slew of "blocking the sidewalk" tickets at a point where the sidewalk is 70' wide at least (the circular area surrounded by posts where the Pacific, Front, and Water streets intersect on the Post Office side. They then moved across the street to harass sleepers in Scope/Scriber Park next to Serpent's Kiss.
Some of the sleepers went back to sleep where they were, others trekked off. I came by around 7 AM with some coffee and got some audio for the morning radio show, which was replayed several hours later and is archived at http://www.santacruzcopwatch.org/robert/brb130421.mp3 .
Cody, Freedom, and Yoyo spoke on the air in person later in the same segment. Likely tonight they will not be doing the sleepout, but may resume it when their group grows again.
I hope to be playing the audio from Keith McHenry's talk on the Homes Not Jails strategy of occupying vacant buildings on Thursday evening. A start-up HNJ group is slated to get together at the Wednesday HUFF meeting 10 AM at the Sub Rosa.
Dreamcatcher, a local artist, and one of those wakened by police across the street from the protesters, said he thought the protest was an educational process for those doing it and perhaps for the community. As to its effectiveness, "we don't know. It isn't over."
Whether it's over or not, I thank the group of protesters for finally getting Homeless (Lack of) Services Center director's staff to provide the documentation that folks are on a Waiting List, enabling them to get sleeping tickets dismissed and deter police ticketing under the camping ordinance. This was confirmed by police switching to other (actually less credible) charges like the absurd "blocking the sidewalk" charges in their campaign to shut down the protest.
Keep posting those reports of police conduct (and misconduct). The clearer the picture is, the less are able those who wish to obscure the "Public Safety" issue. The real issue in these contacts is the intentional insecurity imposed on those outside.
As for those who criticize the protesters as "travelers", I'd say that the Sleeping Ban impacts everyone who sleeps outside--and that travelers as well as those who have had to face this crap for years are entitled to the right to sleep.
I got a phone call from Andrew this morning (who would often stay up as "watchman" for the group at night and sleep during the day) that they spent the night elsewhere than on the cold concrete and would decide what to do next later today.
CITY COUNCIL CURFEW
City Council at its 7 PM session tomorrow will be considering using its own failure to engage in clean-up operations, provide low-income campgrounds, portapotties, and accessible sharps containers for needle disposal to move to establish a curfew at Cowell Beach. This will be the first such beach curfew I've heard of in Santa Cruz and will run into justifiable opposition from the Coastal Commission. I suppose it isn't quite as bad as declaring martial law in Boston, but it's a similar mentality.
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING TOMORROW ON TUESDAY: CALL OR E-MAIL SUPPORT FOR AB-5.
I encourage folks to call in to support Assembly Judiciary Committee passage of the California Homeless Bill of Rights (AB 4) which comes up to hearing tomorrow. See attached page. It's a little hard to read (bad resolution), but Assemblyman Mark Stone's phone number is 831-425-1503 (local) and 916-319-2029 (Sacramento). Stone is on the Judiciary subcommittee and a key vote. He can also be e-mailed at assemblymember.stone [at] assembly.ca.gov .