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'Black Bloc' Action at Gov. Center Calls Attention to Police Seizure of Homeless Property
by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
On July 3, an activist served representatives of the Santa Cruz County government with a written notice stating that the Sheriff department's policy of seizing the property of pre-trial homeless detainees violates federal code and the United States Constitution. The notice was accepted, and the activist believes that if a lawsuit is brought against the county, the authorities can not assert that they were unaware of the dangers they subject the homeless to. The activist served the notice wearing a face mask, believing strongly that individuals have the right to serve branches of the government with legal papers anonymously. [scroll down to view photos]
"By not immediately returning said property upon an indigent's release from custody, your affirmative action deliberately places that person in greater danger of dying from hypothermia than that person was in before the arrest," the notice read.

The notice was submitted to the county with a legal brief styled cover letter which listed a plaintiff as "future litigants" and a defendant as Sheriff Phil Wowak. It was titled, "Notice of Deliberate Indifference to the Probable Wrongful Deaths of Indigent Pre-Trial Detainees."

"The practice of keeping property, that the homeless need to survive, for several days or weeks, is yet another tactic used by law enforcement to harass the homeless out of town. Unlike other tactics though, this one can lead to homeless deaths from exposure and hypothermia. I believe there were four homeless deaths from hypothermia in Santa Cruz in 2010," the activist stated in a press release.

In the notice, the activist referenced the Santa Cruz Superior Court case brought against Gary Johnson in 2012. That case featured testimony detailing the seizure of Johnson's property during a sleep demonstration that Johnson undertook in 2011 and 2012 to protest the local ban on sleep at the county court house. When Johnson was arrested during a multiple evening sleep demonstration by Sheriff's deputies with the county, his possessions were confiscated. When he was released from the Santa Cruz County jail at 10pm, he was left with none of his possessions when confronting another evening of sleeping outside.

In his notice to the county, the activist referred to the seizure of Johnson's property as a, "cruel custom being used by law enforcement against an indigent protester exercising his 1st Amendment rights in a traditional public forum."

The local activist, who wished not to be identified, donned a face mask before entering several offices in Santa Cruz county's government building on Ocean Street during the afternoon of July 3. He said the action was in solidarity with Peace Camp 2010 and Occupy Santa Cruz, where homeless gear was destroyed by authorities in efforts to clear the protest camps from public space.

The activist self-identifies as an "American revolutionary."

He described wearing the mask as a "Black Bloc" tactic. In the press release, the individual further explained that activists in Santa Cruz who "challenge law enforcement misconduct" later become targeted by the police.

The activist gathered first for a photo opportunity in the Santa Cruz County Law Library, which is located on the bottom floor of the County Government Center. He held a protest sign that said "Cold Can Kill" in front of some of the library's legal texts.

He then visited the offices of the County Board of Supervisors and County Counsel in order to serve the notice.

A worker in the County Counsel office accepted the notice with very little comment. The clerk at the Board of Supervisor's office was having some trouble discerning what type of legal document the notice was when the activist served it there, and the woman working called another department on the phone attempting to determine if the notice had been served there yet.

The activist cut the process short and said, "Well, you have been served."

As he was leaving the Board of Supervisors office, four plain-clothes members of law enforcement wearing badges from the Sheriff's office arrived, two of whom were wearing hand guns in belt holsters.

"May I ask your name?" one of the deputies said.

"I would like to remain anonymous," the activist responded.

One of the deputies had his hand on his gun.

"Sir, we are getting some phone calls of people concerned because of the mask. Is there a need to have the mask on?"

"I'm not doing anything unlawful," the activist responded.

"I'm not saying that," the deputy replied. "I'm just saying that people are concerned, obviously, when they see the mask."

The activist explained that he wanted to serve the Sheriff's department with a legal notice. Deputies asked if there was anything they could do, and attempted to determine if the document was something they could officially accept as part of their specific duties with the department. After some back and forth, the deputies suggested they walk downstairs to their department.

A deputy then made another attempt to get the activist's name, explaining, "it's just that mask thing gets a lot of attention."

"That's why I did it," the activist responded.

While walking with the individual to the Sheriff's Warrants Division, the deputy holding his gun continued to do so as he followed the activist.

In the hallway of the Warrants Division, the discussion about whether the deputies could personally accept the document was repeated. They asked what type of document it was and the activist replied that it was a "Notice of Deliberate Indifference." They then referred him to the counter.

"Lets check with records, that way you have official service," one of the deputies said.

At the counter, a staff member quickly accepted the document.

Sheriffs concluded their interactions with the activist at that point, and he left the building without being physically followed.

When outside of the government building, the activist made his way to the final photo-op location, which was an area outside of the court house where Gary Johnson held his sleep protest in 2011-12.

There, the activist held a sign that said, "Being a sleeping bag is not a crime."

The notice the activist served the county was titled "Notice of Deliberate Indifference to the Probable Wrongful Deaths of Indigent Pre-Trial Detainees," and read, in full, as follows:

"This is notice that your current policies and practices regarding
property seized from indigent pre-trial detainees, that they use to protect themselves from the cold, violates Title 42 Section
1983 of the Federal Code and the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"By not immediately returning said property upon an indigent's release from custody, your affirmative action deliberately places that person in greater danger of dying from hypothermia than that person was in before the arrest.
DeShaney v. Winnebago 489 US 189, 201 (1989)

"People can die from hypothermia in this area: see attached Exhibit.

"The property that indigents might use to protect themselves from hypothermia include blankets, sleeping bags, mats, tarps, and tents.

"For an example of this cruel custom being used by law enforcement
against an indigent protester exercising his 1st Amendment
rights in a traditional public forum see Superior Court of Santa Cruz case number M64170 Reporters Transcript III 551, 10-20, 553 2-16, and 554, 4-24 ."

Alex Darocy

Download PDF
§Cold Can Kill - Board of Supervisors
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Clerk of the Board
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Cold Can Kill - County Counsel
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§County Counsel Reception Desk
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Sheriff's Deputies
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Four Sheriff's Deputies arrived
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Free the Blankets - Sheriff's Warrants Division
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Deputies watch as the Activist serves the Sheriff's Department
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Deputy reads over the notice
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Cold Can Kill - Law Library
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Santa Cruz County Law Library
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Being A Sleeping Bag is Not A Crime - Court House
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM
§Leaving the area
by Alex Darocy Monday Jul 8th, 2013 5:06 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by So great
Monday Jul 8th, 2013 8:09 PM
Holy Moses, who wrote that caption page? Sweet Christ.
by abogado o avocado
Monday Jul 8th, 2013 8:31 PM
Who forgot to add the proof of service to the back, never mind filing it with the court first?
by Robert Norse
Monday Jul 8th, 2013 11:16 PM
...when the masked crusader intends to serve the SCPD--where it's even harder to recover your property and the wait is longer. Not to mention being a longer walk from the jail. I'll bring my vidcamera.

Be advised that bogus "no recording allowed" notices litter the SCPD lobby--though that hasn't stopped us in the past.

Nice work, Crusader!

And a tip of the hat to Alex D.!
by An American Revoltionary
Tuesday Jul 9th, 2013 1:26 AM
my clairvoyant powers tell me that those poorly trained city cops will actually shoot me. but fear not, i also have hacking powers that rival the great and notorious Commander X. if you look in your Downloads directory on your computer you will find you now have 2 Word files named hypo14th.docx and hypocover.docx that you can modify to serve on the city. add a sentence at the end about the SC muni code's no blankets after 11 pm not serving any rational much less compelling government interest. Then watch Barisone disappear that evil section in the code faster than Mayor Bryant's Bike Church emails did.

you will need to add a photocopy of this as the exhibit
as evidence people die from hypothermia in this area.
also add a photocopy of the few hours the public can access the police station, or add a separate Declaration in this form:

"I, Robert (real last name) declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the hours posted on the Santa Cruz Police Station are Tuesdays and Thursdays _____ to ______. "

then sign and date it.
also sign and date the notice.
you don't need a proof of service or to file it since this isn't an actual case, just a notice.

the proper people to serve in the City are "full of baloney" Barisone at his office, "banal Bernal" at both his office and the City Clerk to be sure and the City itself at the City Clerk. You can also serve the Police Chief for fun.

to make it even more powerful re-serve everyone in email also CCing all the top lawyers you know.

i am not a lawyer - this is not legal advice.

today would be an auspicious day to serve them since July 9 is the anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment mentioned in the notice.

by Brent Adams
Tuesday Jul 9th, 2013 1:48 AM
I highly praise this "American revolutionary" for this theatre of shame against the county and sheriffs department.
The person has addressed a serious situation that has gone over-looked and he(?) did it with style and humor.

It goes straight to the gut and to the heart.
May this be an inspiration to all activists.

A new local super hero is born.
by Lydia Blanchard
(lydiablanchard [at] Tuesday Jul 9th, 2013 5:04 AM
Right on! And thanks.
by An American Revolutionary
Tuesday Jul 9th, 2013 5:30 AM
"Who forgot to add the proof of service to the back, never mind filing it with the court first?"

only Alex or someone at the County would know that. i almost put a blank proof of service on the back for fun. but filing and a proof would necessitate me revealing my identity in a situation where i have good cause to fear reprisal from the sheriffs. NAACP v Alabama alleviates me from that necessity. otherwise my 1st Amendment right here would be completely extinguished.

You are a "green lawyer" indeed.

All some big city lawyer needs to show to collect millions from the County and the Sheriff is :

1. a wrongful death due to not retaining and returning an indigents sleeping bag.
2. the Defendants had ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE of the danger
3. they had time to deliberate
4. they made a choice to ignore that danger
5. it is clearly established law in this context

the notice (and this news-story) satisfies 2. you are already out of time on 3 and 4.(lucky for you it is summer). you MIGHT have a chance for qualified immunity on 5 ONCE. but if Norse can interest an attorney to file for a Declaratory Judgement in Federal Court, you will quickly lose that loophole.

the smart thing for you overpaid fucks to do would be to mend your evil ways now and start acting like decent human beings.

this is not legal advice and i am not an attorney.
by G
Tuesday Jul 9th, 2013 9:46 AM
Wow. Beautiful.

While generally adverse to 'black bloc' stuff (in particular, the 'use innocents as shields' flavor), I (the prosecuted of PeaceCamp2011 & PeaceCamp2012) am flattered and encouraged by this 'action'.

PeaceCamp2013 (virtually) protests in 'solidarity' with 'American revolutionary'.

For the activists out there; notice that this action was political theater AND has legal teeth, an effective combo! My undertanding (see: Police Misconduct; Law And Litigation) is that deliberate indifference 'pierces the veil', turning immune state actors into legally liable individuals. Immunity is at the root of law enforcement abuses (see rash of cop kills dog (unprosecuted) crimes). Perhaps now, at least for blanket theft, their abuse of technical immunity will end.
by Happy Peace Camper
Tuesday Jul 9th, 2013 1:51 PM
Hey G!
It looks like this action counts as your 4th year of protest!
This action was discussed at length on the Northbay UpRising morning show, broadcast Tuesdays 6 to 9am, at 89.5FM in Vallejo (Http:// It will also be included in the Thursday afternoon Northbay Uprising radio news.
It was a wonderful action, whose repercussions will be felt for a long time.
Thank you, mysterious masked man, for defending our Human Rights against the bad guys who allow death for those less fortunate than most of us!
by G
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 10:00 AM
Yep, 4th year!

Beginning on July 2nd, 2013, PeaceCamp2013 has been (virtually) protesting at a different site every night. The courthouse, city hall, State capitol, everywhere in California (at once), Whitehouse, U.S. Congress, U.S. DOJ, U.S. Supreme Court...

As of today; no tickets, no arrests, and no answers to the simple question "Why is sleep a crime?".

Mostly via Twitter (so far).

Beginning on July 9th, 2013, PeaceCamp2013 has been (virtually) protesting in 'solidarity' with 'American revolutionary'.

I'd also like to say thank you to Northbay UpRising (as well as IndyBay) for the coverage on the criminalization of sleep.

Meanwhile, back at the alumni; apparently Chris (aka Commander X) recently tweeted the following...

Statement From Commander X On The 3rd Anniversary Of Peace Camp 2010 - | #PeaceCamp2010 #Anonymous #PLF #Revolution

All totaled, between state and federal charges - I face 17 years in prison for peacefully standing up for human rights at Peace Camp 2010.
by Made Me Laugh Out Loud
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 10:25 AM
Sweet Pics! and Super-Sweet Action!!

"Who Was That Lone Masked Man?
by anonymous
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 5:38 PM
a video would to make viral would of been good too
by VonManstein
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 1:05 AM
Following the initial seizure it would seem
by G
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 10:15 AM
C'mon HUFF, step up! :)
by Robert Norse
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 11:17 AM
...but who will be my camera support?
by G
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 1:48 PM
Maybe Indybay might be interested in camera support? I'd suggest a HUFFster but the possibility of arrest would become exponential. ;)
by American Revolutionary
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 3:49 PM
i cited and had a photocopy of California Penal Code 185 where it says:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to wear any mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise (whether complete or partial) for the purpose of:

One—Evading or escaping discovery, recognition, or identification in the commission of any public offense.

Two—Concealment, flight, or escape, when charged with, arrested for, or convicted of, any public offense. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor."

some other states still have unconstitutional "Wear a mask-go to jail" laws.

the mask does give cops reasonable suspicion to detain you for a Terry Stop.

here is an example of what you will run into:

cop-why the mask?
protester-to prevent reprisal
cop-we won't do anything to you (yeah right..cops are allowed to lie)
protester-others might, the press is here, i don't want my picture in the media, besides Penal Code 185 only makes a mask illegal for criminals, i am not doing anything unlawful
cop-what's your name?
protester- i wish to remain anonymous
repeat over and over.. (they must have asked me my name 20 times, in various ways.)
cop-why are you on gov. property with a mask?
protester-i am serving legal notice on the gov.

also bring protest signs to give you extra protection with the 1st Amendment.
one cop asked me if i belonged to a group called "Free the Blankets". Naacp v Alabama allows you to protect your identity when you promote unpopular causes, since you would be completely "chilled" from speaking out at all from fear of reprisal.

DON'T DO ANYTHING ILLEGAL or threatening or make any sudden moves, note the cop with his hand on his gun. this is why i had to do it alone, other protesters might start taunting trigger happy cops.
if detained you must not leave until they say you can. but they can't hold you a long time, keep asking if you are free to go.

finally and most importantly make sure the press is there. Alex is a very professional journalist. he is discreet, technically capable, not prone to emotional outbursts or taunting, not biased against radical causes, and actually shows up. i have seen alex at more protests than any other photojournalist in town. thanks again Alex.
the press not only get the message out to the people, but also provide crucial Cop Watch protection. cops are less likely to violate you if a camera records it.

(Alex also did not publish any video since the sound of my voice might reveal my identity, as i said, he is discreet)

as for Norse, all the cops already know who he is so a mask is pointless.
(which also makes it funny - especially with his beard poking out the bottom of the mask)
as Norse commented the City is worse on this issue. i started with the County because i had very good evidence on them, sheriffs found the man who died from hypothermia and i had citable testimony that proved Gary did not get his property back.

if they had not re-jailed him, he might have died that cold December night...

by Free the Land
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 4:09 PM
I will be covering this action on my show Tuesday July 16 3pm to 5pm on Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.3 FM. Possibly re-broadcasting it around 8 that evening. I also have a snip of the Thursday news coverage by NorthBayUprising.
by Aunt Denise
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 5:31 PM
..and won't be until we find a suitable site. It needs to be on the East side or the West side, but not Downtown. A tall tree would be nice. Power and DSL availability, and somewhere we can put the transmitter with 24 hour access and lockable. Check with all your friends, because if a spot isn't found in the next week or so FRSC may be down for months.

until then, here is the stream:

or click the RED DOT on top of the antenna, on the Home page at :

Thanks for your support all these years,
Aunt Denise