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Indybay Feature

Santa Cruz Police Make More Arrests at City Hall Sleepout #9

by Alex Darocy (alex [at]
On September 8, community members protesting laws that criminalize homelessness held their ninth in a series of group sleepouts at Santa Cruz City Hall, which is closed to the public at night. At least three people were issued citations, and two others were reportedly arrested for participating in the latest protest. Despite that, a large group stayed through the night and slept at City Hall. They call themselves "Freedom Sleepers" and have planned their next sleepout for September 15. [Top photo: A person inside a small tent in the courtyard of Santa Cruz City Hall is issued a citation. Scroll down for more photos from the September 8 sleepout.]
Since the sleepouts began on July 4, police have consistently attempted to disperse protesters away from City Hall and its garden courtyard by conducting raids. In the process, many participants have been issued citations, and several have been arrested.

One individual taken to jail on the evening of September 8/9 had been holding a protest sign and speaking loudly about the injustice of the police raids as people were being cited in the courtyard. She was arrested when she began to walk away from two police officers who were attempting to communicate with her. She had been standing on a flat, open section of the brick walkway that serves as the main entrance to the City Hall property. The area is only feet from the public sidewalk, but is considered by police to be part of the "no trespassing" zone.

To discourage individuals from sleeping at City Hall, portable stadium lighting units have been employed by police during the last two protests, and "no parking" hoods were placed over parking meters on Center and Church Streets to distance protesters from their cars.

The lighting units are placed in front of the courtyard where protesters have been setting up sleeping locations, and have been guarded all night by a team of First Alarm security guards who also watch over the protest.

Additionally, a no trespassing zone was established and maintained around council chambers while the September 8 city council meeting was in session. Food Not Bombs had previously been using the area to cook and share food.

During the police raids, protesters generally leave the courtyard area of City Hall and sleep on the sidewalk. The group decided early on at a general assembly that this would be the tactic used whenever the police arrived. This was a strategic decision, since the sidewalk around City Hall is exempt from the sit/lie ordinance, and sleeping there narrows the laws applicable to the protest. Many of the protesters want to be cited specifically for sleeping, while others have stated they are also concerned with issues more broadly related to the right to sleep or protest 24 hours a day at Santa Cruz City Hall, the center of local civic life.

For more information about the sleepouts, see:

Freedom Sleepers

Alex Darocy
§No trespassing zone around council chambers
by Alex Darocy
§No parking on Church Street
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by Alex Darocy
§The Santa Cruz City Hall courtyard
by Alex Darocy
§City council meeting
by Alex Darocy
§City Hall before the police raid
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§Police arrive shortly after midnight
by Alex Darocy
by Alex Darocy
§Police officer issuing a citation in the City Hall courtyard
by Alex Darocy
§Police disperse the group from the courtyard area
by Alex Darocy
§City Hall at 5am
by Alex Darocy
City Hall after the police raid, sleepers move to the sidewalk
§Freedom Sleeper
by Alex Darocy
Freedom Sleeper
Freedom Sleepers on the sidewalk and on the retaining wall around City Hall
§The food table at 5am
by Alex Darocy
The food table at 5am
§The sleepers stretched around to Church Street
by Alex Darocy
The sleepers stretched around to Church Street
Brent Adams of Santa Cruz Sanctuary Village stayed the night
§The Freedom Sleepers port-a-potty
by Alex Darocy
The Freedom Sleepers port-a-potty
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by John Cohen-Colby (john.roncohen.colby [at]
We must spread the Freedom Sleeper protest into a national movement in every city which criminalizes homeless people.

Power to the #FreedomSleepers !!!
After Occupy Santa Cruz was chased off, the text of 602(o) revealed a flaw in the oppression. The trespass laws in California are laced with 'unless conduct is protected by the Constitution' (I've long wondered if those were alterations caused by higher court decisions). During the PC2011/12 trial, judge Gallagher prohibited ANY MENTION of the 602 tickets/arrests (those charges were converted to 647(e) before trial). Any mention; even after the prosecution entered a picture of a sign into evidence, shown to the jury, that cited 602, on that very sign. Why such prosecutors and judges are not disbarred remains a mystery to me. Allegedly part of the District Attorney job description is protecting the Constitutional rights of the accused.

Perhaps the real problem is systemic violations of the Constitution by armed thugs, directed by immune tyrants, against those peacefully seeking redress for grievances.

Yet more facts submitted to a candid world.
by tramaine
isn't the public tired of these pigg farts yet? maybe amurricans like sadomasochism as presented by the ''police dept.''
by Sick of Abuse against Homeless and their Anim
The following was relayed to me by phone back in June 2015 by the victims of Officer "Barbie":

The Santa Cruz Police Department’s newly recruited officer nick named “Officer Barbie” who is the tall, blonde female officer pictured in photo #1 and #17 is already under investigation for excessive force and abuse against homeless people for being homeless and their dog. She was freshly out of the Academy and allowed to patrol on her own; obviously, a serious error committed by her superiors. I question whether she is still safe to be on duty and alone dealing with people. Her problem with excessive force and anger management makes her a danger to the community that she is supposed to be “serving and projecting.”

There is a lawsuit being taken out against the city and police force for her inhumane torture, cruelty and blinding of an innocent dog. Instead of allowing the owner to subdue a dog that was left in their vehicle while they were being held at gun point and flat on the ground because they were homeless by Officer “Barbie.” Because she was in a bad mood, she choose to use excessive force and cruelty against the dog secured in the van. She opened the door and heavily sprayed mace in its face then closed the door leaving the dog to suffer! The dog suffered for hours with a painful extremely swollen jaw. He was left permanently blinded by her illegal behavior. When Animal Services was able to access the situation they too felt that what Officer “Barbie” had done was abuse to this dog without reason. The dog had been left to suffer before anyone was able to relieve a lot the suffering!

A follow-up Santa Cruz Officer told “Barbie” these two working homeless people, husband and wife were ok; not trouble. Of course he won’t break the blue wall by telling truth for the lawsuit. He will no doubt lie and protect Officer “Barbie” which is part of the problem that keeps these troublesome officers on the force instead of getting rid of them.

The excessive force to run them for priors for being homeless and living in their van was unnecessary. The cruelty to their dog that has crippled it for life leaving it blind in one was unnecessary. Until there is a legit unhindered or non-bias community police review board these kind of abuse with in the Santa cruz Police Force will continue. The story needs to get out.

These are many of these kinds of stories that are kept from the public. Short of a lawsuit as others have been advised by the police auditor nothing will be done . Nothing will change. Usually these kinds of lawsuit are settled out of court and gag ordered so the public is never made aware. These kind of SCPD abuses have been going on for years without consequences.
the worst thing for local citizens as well as the police force is an officer who isn't cut out for the job or not properly trained or supervised. If there is evidence she's a risk to the public and the PD and city manager do nothing about it then the city is definitely liable for negligence.

I think we need her name and badge number so members of the public can be aware she might be a loose cannon and can be more aware in observing her behavior that is either acting out of SCPD policy or IS SCPD unwritten policy. Either way it sounds like the public is at risk.
by Alex Darocy
That officer's name is Bernadette Erlach, Badge #168.

She is pictured on the left in the following photo from this article:

For reference, here is a list of SCPD officer names and badge numbers updated in 2014 by Robert Norse:

Updated List of Santa Cruz Police Department Personnel
by Alex Darocy
Bernadette Erlach, Santa Cruz Police.
by Fearful of Police Abuse
She looks scary. Glad for the warning.
as far as her bio, it says her most recent employment was as a real estate agent!

no wonder she seems on a mission to rid SC of anyone who can't afford to buy a million dollar home.
by John Cohen-Colby (john.roncohen.colby [at]
Only the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) would give a real estate agent a gun!
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