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|Freedom Sleeper Case Demands Police Release Video Records|
|Date||Friday June 17|
|Time||10:00 AM - 11:00 AM|
|Import this event into your personal calendar.|
701 Ocean St. Santa Cruz
Department 1 in the main court building.
|Event Type||Court Date|
|rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com|
|Address||309 Cedar St. P.O. Box 14B, Santa Cruz, 95060|
On many occasions Freedom Sleepers were sleeping on the grounds to protest the City's $150+ fines given unhoused people who have no emergency shelter in Santa Cruz. The only option for 1000-1500 homeless people is to get on the full Waiting Lists for services that only serve a fraction of the population--less and less since services were cut back last year.
City Council has refused to lighten the Sleeping Ban--even with the mild reforms proposed by Counclmembers Posner and Lane in March (to eliminate the crime of sleeping and covering up with blankets, but retain the laws that close all park spaces to sleep at night).
Every Tuesday night Freedom Sleepers sleep overnight on the sidewalks in front of City Hall--with the 50th of these protests coming up on June 21st, and a year's memorial slated for July 5th.
Perhaps to avoid negative publicity, authorities do not ticket those sleeping at the once-a-week protest, but continue to cite the most vulnerable elsewhere in the City. The actions are part of an overall crackdown on visible poverty in Santa Cruz involving cutting back services, pressuring organizations that provide them (as "enablers"), and eliminating crafts vending downtown beginnng June 24th.
WHAT THE HEARING IS ABOUT
This will be a Motions Hearing on my two "in the park after 10 PM" citations from July and August of last year.
Technically it's termed a Motion to Compel. Police have been photoed and videoed as they themselves videoed the Freedom Sleepers. Repeatedly, they and the City Attorney have declined to turn over to defendants, charged with $198 citations, the video and audio they took on night after night.
The issue here is to get the police video and audio released prior to trial to show (a) a political protest at City Hall was being suppressed, (b) the law allowing us to be on the path through the City Hall Courtyard was ignored, and (c) we were denied access to the City Council agendas, as required by the Brown Act. See http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2015/08/20/sleep-out-22-santa-cruz-police-sgt-david-forbus-city-hall.jpg .
Assistant City Attorney Reed Gallogy has declined to drop the cases
I hope to use the occasion to mobilize opposition to the City's continuing harassment of Freedom Sleepers (and, of course, the unhoused community).
In December the City staff moved their publicly-displayed agendas from the wall outside City Hall to the sidewalk in response to Freedom Sleepers insisting on their right to read the agendas at night. The state Public Meetings Act guarantees the public the right to access government agendas 24 hours a day for 72 hours before the scheduled meetings.
Citing, arresting, or refusing access to those doing so may not merely be a defense against the charge of "being in the City Hall Courtyard after closing", but a way to require the City to reopen closed public spaces. The City Hall walkway, open to the public for decades, was abruptly declared a "closed area" at night in the fall of 2010. This was done without public discussion or Council vote. It was a response to similar homeless protests demanding an end to the Sleeping Ban.
The Motion seeks to force police to reveal their video evidence that around the Agenda and other issues. Though judges seem partial to the police, actual documentation of police obstructing access to the agendas may force Judge Marigonda to dismiss my tickets. This may impact past and future Freedom Sleepers by showing that past arrests were false and make future ones less likely.
My court (not jury) trial is currently slated for June 24 at 10 AM but may be postponed--if the Discovery Motion is granted.
Attorney Kate Wells will be arguing the Motion, speaking on the issue on Free Radio Santa Cruz tonight between 6 and 6:30 PM. Food Not Bombs will be distributing literature and snacks outside the courthouse in the hour before the hearing.
To read the Motion go to https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2016/06/13/memo_of_p___a_motion_to_compel.pdf .
For more information on the Freedom Sleepers, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/freedomsleepers/ ; http://freedomsleepers.org/index.php/about/ ; and https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/07/18787293.php .