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Indybay Feature
Activists hold ground at city hall for 11th week in a row
by ZH
Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM
An account of the 11th Freedom Sleepers protest against the Santa Cruz camping ban law.
Another sleepout protest at Santa Cruz city hall occurred this past Tuesday evening. Protesters have now spent 11 nights sleeping out in the open at city hall, in order to protest and draw attention to the Santa Cruz law which makes camping out in public or in one’s vehicle a citable offense. The law - which has been on the books in Santa Cruz since 1978 - has been criticized by protesters as unfairly targeting houseless people in the city who have no choice other than to sleep outdoors. The last Point in Time count - a nationally used method of surveying unhoused people - in the county registered 1964 individuals, far more than the 1172 shelter beds available to them.

The sleepouts have regularly been visited by officers of the Santa Cruz police department, who arrived this past Tuesday evening around 11:00 pm. This week the police only wrote one citation, for a houseless protester found asleep beneath the city hall flagpole. The plaza area of city hall that faces Center street is designated by the city’s Parks and Recreation department as a park, only open from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm each day. Police have generally cited people present in the city hall plaza after 10:00 pm for being in the park after hours. The brick walkways that lead from the sidewalk into the plaza and toward the City Council chambers are also designated as part of the park. Protest organizers have pointed out that closing these walkways after hours along with the rest of the park designated area essentially makes it illegal for people to visit city hall after 10:00 pm, even to do something as simple as check posted agendas for city council meetings.

Some recently added fixtures at the protests include an array of light towers of the kind commonly seen at late night construction sites. These towers, supplied by local tool equipment rental service A-Tool Shed, carry 4 high-powered bulbs lit by a rumbling diesel generator. These lights have been present now at four sleepouts. Accompanying the lights this Tuesday were three security guards from Bay Area private security firm First Alarm, who have also been present since the lights were first at city hall. According to the guards, First Alarm was hired to protect the lights. When questioned further, one guard indicated that the lights are provided by the Santa Cruz police department. Protesters charge that the lights are a method by which the police department tries to harass them and prevent them from sleeping. One of their signs takes a militant stance on the issue, stating “Sleep deprivation is a form of torture!” in reference to the lights. The sign also refers to the police practice of waking houseless sleepers in the city to cite them under the camping ban.

Police started the lights up this Tuesday night just as they arrived, flooding the city hall plaza with light like at a movie shoot. Protesters formed a line along the sidewalk just the other side of the park zone to avoid tickets, while police stood in clusters in the plaza as they waited for their colleague to complete his ticket. They left soon after he finished.

The protest continued quietly until the early morning, when the police returned at about 5:40 am to inform sleepers on the sidewalk around City Hall that a pressure washer was coming through to clean the concrete. The protesters, roused from sleep, groggily collected their bedding and belongings and stood around for a few minutes until the plaza opened at 6:00 am, then relocated to the grass in the plaza center. Notably, the pressure washer did not arrive to clean the front sidewalk until more than 2 hours later.

A topic this reporter has heard consistently discussed at sleepouts is the cost of enforcing against the protests, both for police and private security. A phone call to A-Tool Shed found out that each light costs $125 per day plus diesel fuel costs, based on an 8 hour shift. A hiring ad for First Alarm found on stated that guards make between $11 and $18 per hour, for an average of $14.50 (for convenience of calculation). First Alarm guards have been present at the protests from 4:00 pm on Tuesday afternoons until 8:00 am on Wednesday mornings, for two 8 hour shifts. With this information, one can determine that the city of Santa Cruz has spent over $1000 each Tuesday for the past four Tuesdays (including this week) just to keep lights and First Alarm guards present.
§organizer Abbi Samuels explains protest to newcomers
by ZH Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM
§sleepers on the sidewalk, early morning
by ZH Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM
§early morning coffee
by ZH Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM
§folks having breakfast
by ZH Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM
§protesters do dishes from the previous night
by ZH Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM
§cleanup crew gathering litter from the previous night
by ZH Friday Sep 25th, 2015 12:27 AM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by G
Friday Sep 25th, 2015 5:45 AM
It's a legal term, used to describe things like parks, which are allegedly Constitutionally protected traditional public forums.

See also: Hague v. CIO (1932), Schneider v. New Jersey (1939).
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 26th, 2015 12:08 PM
April, ticketed by SCPD, for "being on the City Hall grounds after 10 PM", the overnight of the Freedom SleepOut, was seen the next day being carried in a stretcher at the police station on Center St.

If anyone has an information about her health, whereabouts, or last name, please contact me at 423-4833 or rnorse3 [at]
by Razer Ray
Saturday Sep 26th, 2015 1:26 PM
[image: Banksy markup]

Where's MY snickerdoodle buddy?

A little birdy just told me the Santa Cruz Police went around yesterday (Friday 9/25/15) handing out snickerdoodles (Pacific Cookie Co) and coupons for a slice and a coke at Joe's Pizza to homeless people. One person was actually (and I'm sure disingenuously) told by a police officer: "We're doing this because we felt bad about how we treated you (the houseless) this summer". They stopped by the Red Church early while everyone was packing up to do this and didn't ticket anyone for camping or trespassing, and were reportedly still handing the cookies and coupons out at 2 in the afternoon.

I suspect it's an intel/statistics gathering mission.

It would be a simple effective way to canvass the local street population, if only for a quick head count to check the effectiveness of their harassment tactics over the summer, and also see who runs. After all, anyone who runs away from a snickerdoodle-bearing cop must have done something wrong or be wanted for something...
Somebody who verified the difference between what guards are paid by 1st Alarm and what the city payouts is a big difference. Legal protests are still constitutionally protected. If people stay on the PUBLIC sidewalk to sleeping or stand, they are not breaking any laws.

It is clear in the following copies of emails between city staff and Chief Vogel (obtained through public records requests) that they break their sworn oaths to uphold the law of the land—the US Constitution and Bill of Rights by claiming protesting is a criminal activity.

Neither SC city staff, city council nor SCPD uphold their oath that they pledge and swear to when taking office or job to abide by the CONSTITUTION! It is them who are the criminals involved in illegal activity!
More documents which are evidence of Conspiracy and Collusion between city staff and SCPD to violate people’s constitutionally protected right to protest illegal and unconstitutional laws!
More documents which are evidence of Conspiracy and Collusion between city staff and SCPD to violate people’s constitutionally protected right to protest illegal and unconstitutional laws!
by Pat Colby
Wednesday Sep 30th, 2015 11:55 PM
Has anyone filed a missing persons report on April with SCPD since she has not been seen last week? I believe our next step is to have someone file an official missing person report so a welfare search can be started! How many homeless-unhoused have disappeared without a trace since summer? It might be time to report the numerous disappearances to the FBI and DOJ! There seems to be a pattern happening Santa Cruz!
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