$37.12 donated in past month
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons
Sleepouts at Santa Cruz City Hall Advance to 2016
Homeless individuals returned to sleep at Santa Cruz City Hall on January 5 for the twenty-sixth community sleepout. Facing intermittent downpours of rain, some slept in a large tent on the sidewalk in front of the city hall courtyard. Signs attached to the tent read, "No Sleep Til Justice." Some individuals successfully slept under the eaves of the city offices building itself, which is a no-trespassing zone at night. One person slept directly on city hall's brick walkway with out a blanket. Regardless of the sleep location, it is illegal to sleep in Santa Cruz anywhere in public between the hours of 11 pm and 8:30 am.
Since July 4, community members, many of them calling themselves "Freedom Sleepers," have been organizing the sleepouts one night a week at City Hall to protest laws that criminalize homelessness and the simple act of sleeping.
Initially they attempted to sleep on the lawn in the courtyard area of city hall, which is also a no trespassing zone at night. In response, police conducted raids at nearly every one of their sleepouts. After many were cited and or arrested in the courtyard, the sleepers moved the location of their sleep-protest to the sidewalk in front of city hall. Eventually the police raids subsided.
To keep the courtyard free of sleepers, the city has instead chosen to hire all night security patrols, who often stand watch over the sleepers for hours at a time. Staying up all night has weighed heavy on some of the guards, who are employed by First Alarm Security Services. Several guards have been caught sleeping in their cars (see: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/09/17/18777749.php#18777759), which is a violation of the camping ban, the very same law the sleepers are directly protesting themselves through civil disobedience. Some of the guards have expressed frustration with the protesters, a homeless woman was roughed up while they were arresting her in the courtyard (see: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/09/16/18777700.php).
According to reports from the Freedom Sleepers, there were transgressions from the guards at the last sleepout as well.
Toby Nixon, of the Homeless Advocacy & Action Coalition, said that at about 4 am on January 6, a First Alarm security guard began to shine a bright light on the activists' tent and attempted to initiate a "conversation" with the individuals inside it. After exiting the tent, Nixon says he insisted the security guard stop harassing them as they attempted to sleep. He claims the guard responded that he was working there and that it was his right to do whatever he wished.
According to Nixon the First Alarm guard left after some coaxing, and the sleepers inside made it through another night at Santa Cruz City Hall.
For more information about the Homeless Advocacy & Action Coalition, see:
For more information about the Freedom Sleepers, see: