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Indybay Feature

Freedom Sleepers confront city council at el Palomar

by zh
The Freedom Sleepers held a protest in front of the Palomar Inn in downtown Santa Cruz, where the city council planned to eat a celebratory dinner in honor of the appointment of the new mayor, Cynthia Matthews.
As the city council met in the Palomar Inn’s banquet room last night to celebrate the tenure of new mayor Cynthia Matthews, Freedom Sleepers held a protest on the sidewalk with free coffee, soup, and PB&J sandwiches. They set up signs, handed out flyers advertising an upcoming event at the Resource Center for Non-Violence on December 13, chanted, and sang with busking musicians that had set up right next door.

A small group of protestors also entered the banquet room during the council’s meal with a sign reading “A Ban on Sleep is a Ban on Life.” They stayed in the room for several minutes and exchanged some conversation with council members, then returned to the sidewalk to continue serving food and coffee. The group attempted to enter the banquet room a second time, but were halted by Santa Cruz police officers and told they would not be entering the room. An argument ensued between the protestors, police, and the managers of both el Palomar Restaurant and the Palomar Inn Building. Protestors maintained they had a legal right to access a meeting of city council members, while the managers insisted that they were on private property and had to leave under threat of arrest for trespassing. After a several minute stand-off, the protestors again returned to the sidewalk until the city council left the building.

The table, signs, and food were then relocated to city hall for the regular weekly sleepout. The Freedom Sleepers have been sleeping out in front of city hall once a week for the past 22 weeks to protest the Santa Cruz sleeping/camping ban law, which makes it illegal for anyone to sleep in public between certain hours of the night and morning. The Freedom Sleepers maintain that this law is inhumane and punishes people for existing while houseless, having no other option than to sleep outdoors.
§Councilmember Micah Posner waves to protestors
by zh
§Protest inside city council meal
by zh
§Buskers outside Palomar Inn
by zh
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by brentugly
There are these 'confrontations'.
These are classic tactics and from one view they can be seen as courageous and commendable, but if we're looking to appeal to law-makers, a confrontation style action only exacerbates these pre-existing tensions. Here we see activists that have repeated the same tactics unsuccessfully for more than a dozen years. Their commitment and longevity must be applauded, but when do we step back and and ask the question, 'is this working?' Is it an endless anti-authoritarian exercise that will never gain the support it asserts that it's seeking?
by John Cohen-Colby
Those in power need to be confronted for their lack of humanity. These kinds are confrontations won't bring about regime change, but they have a place in our struggles against oppression. We do not seek the consent of the governors but of the governed.
by G
All 'naughty kicks' tactic, no 'play to win' strategy? Looks like HUFF to me.
by John Cohen-Colby
That's funny. Get out of the federal money grabbing business. It isn't going to happen because the City Council members and City staff are too invested in feeding at the federal and state money trough. BTW: they are desperate to keep that shelter open because they think it gives them a legal advantage in civil rights court cases against Santa Cruz's homelessness criminalization laws.
by ... Wait For It
A Living Nativity!

There's no room at the inn.
by John Cohen-Colby
The Brown Act.

by Pat Colby
Is that the infamous Sgt. Jon Bush standing next to his infamous pal Robert Norse just like he does at citty council meetings. I wish had a SCPD officer as shadow/bodyguard to keep me safe since I have received death threats from members of local terrorist hate group!
by Razer Ray
The current group of people calling themselves "The Freedom Sleepers" are promoting the idea that 'sleeping is a right'. This is entirely wrong and just goes to show how completely the people who suck up to the poverty pimps of the homeless industrial complex have sold out. I'd name some names locally, but it would include just about every so-called 'homeless activist', who all just happen to be ... housed.

Sleeping is a necessity.


Just ask the United Nations Human Rights commissioner. (See attached)

Ps. I wonder how much Tristia Bauman, at RCNV today earns a year to market the 'sleeping is a right' line of reasoning?
by Robert Norse
...until Councilmembers began to leave. Though police threatened to arrest and manager threatened trespass charges, some of us stayed nonetheless on principle (City Council members can't exclude the public by moving to private areas when there are more than 3 of them's even arguable that 2 is one too many for a "private meeting").

Audio of the interchanges between the activists and the manager (and a Councilmember or two) can be found at (about 48 minutes into the audio file). It's hard to hear.
by I Can
Brown Act - EXEMPTIONS - Attendance at social or ceremonial events 54952.2(c)(5) where no business of the body is discussed.
by Not a meetimg.
Social or Ceremonial Occasions

Attendance by a majority of the members of the legislative body at a purely social or
ceremonial occasion is not deemed to be a meeting, so long as the members do not
discuss among themselves specific business within the jurisdiction of the body. (§ 54952.2(c)(5).)
This has long been the law in California. (Sacramento Newspaper Guild
v. Sacramento County Bd. of Suprs. (1968) 263 Cal.App.2d 41; 43
Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 36, 38 (1964).) In practice, this prohibition may sometimes be
difficult to observe since persons attending social or ceremonial occasions frequently
wish to discuss specific issues with their governmental officials. However, where a
majority of a legislative body is present, the members must not discuss specific
business within the jurisdiction of the body to avoid violating the Act.

I finally got a chance to listen to Robert's taping of it, and it's just embarrassing.
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