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#50--Freedom Sleepers Keep the Faith

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
5:00 PM - 5:00 AM
Event Type:
Keith McHenry
Location Details:
On or near the Center of the City Government Beast at Santa Cruz City Hall 809 Center St. on the brick area and sidewalk along Center St. between Church and Locust Streets

A successful Tuesday Sleep-Out last week indicated growing support. Freedom Sleep-Out #49 was mainly staffed by unhoused folks seeking shelter, community, and a respite from the threat of Sleeping Ban tickets. See "As Attendance Swells at Community Sleepouts, Freedom Sleepers Plan One-Year Anniversary" at .

In Santa Cruz, sleeping outside, in a vehicle, or in any non-residential structure, is a $150+ infraction crime (MC 6.36.010a). Three such "crimes" unpaid in six months can mean a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail. Additionally a new condition can be imposed making each and every future infraction of any kind (being in a park after dark, smoking in a non-smoking area, sitting within 14' of a building, bench, telephone, crosswalk, etc. on Pacific Ave) for the next six months automatic misdemeanors.

Sleeping on the sidewalk at the protest, in spite of its visibility and the many people doing it each Tuesday night, has generally not resulted in Sleeping citations. The overwhelming majority of tickets were for "being in a closed area" (MC 13.04.011)--the administratively closed area of the City Hall grounds at night to deter protests.

As a frequent Freedom Sleeper, Monterey Max spoke on behalf of homeless civil rights at a Salinas Sleep-In Press Conference Monday. Salinas activists under the leadership of Wes White have been sleeping out night in front of Salinas City Hall, where nighttime sleeping and camping is not a crime, but setting down one's survival gear during the day in public places is. He may be at the Sleep-Out tonight in Santa Cruz. See "City of Salinas: Shelter is a Human Right! " at

'Bathrobespierre' Robert Norse faces a no-jury trial for two counts of being on the City Hall courtyard grounds "after hours". See "Freedom Sleeper Case Demands Police Release Video Records " at .

Judge Paul Marigonda, jocularly known in some quarters as Judge Marigouge-ah, upheld City Attorney Gallogly's peculiar argument. Gallogly argued that any video made by police was either destroyed immediately after (a violation of the law, but ignored by the Judge) or that the videoing itself was not actually done but really a "bluff" to keep the protesters on their best behavior.

Some watchers noted that Marigonda and Gallogly spent many minutes privately conferring, and wondered if that kind of secret discussion might not be improper. The judge dismissed the numerous photos of Sgt. Forbus and other officers apparently videoing and/or photopgraphing (See ). He refused to delay the trial, setting it for 10 AM June 24 in Department 1.

A bright spot in Marigonda's SCPD-rubberstamping Hearing was the presence of at least seven Freedom Sleeper supporters in the courtroom.

Next Friday’s trial will be heard by retired judge Sam Steven, whose record is reportedly less hostile to activists than Marigonda’s.

Of particular interest to the defense is the coincidental appearance of a new glass case displaying City Council agendas, on the sidewalk just outside the City Council courtyard. This sudden appearance of a new location for posted agendas followed the ticketing and arrest of Freedom Sleepers week after week. Many of them told police they were in the courtyard and claimed the right to gain access to the agendas--which was repeatedly denied.

Called to account will be City Administrator/Clerk Bren Lehr, who presided over the creation of the new display case in the fall of 2015, according to e-mails. Another subpoenaed witness is Sgt. David Forbus, who may be able to explain the disappearing video tape and photographs—which were supposed to be preserved. Apparently the “losing” of such key evidence is a not a unique occurrence—as a key defendant in the PeaceCamp 2010 trial noted the same thing happened to him [See "At the PC2010 trial a sheriff testified, under oath, that their arrest video was 'lost'." at

The outcome may also affect the citations and arrests of other Freedom Sleepers, almost all of whom have either paid $198 fines, gone to trial (and generally been found guilty), or let their tickets go to collection. There is the prospect of a broader federal lawsuit for false arrest damages if a "not guilty" comes out of this case. Since the state Brown [Open Meetings] Act requires access to the agenda display at night, it appears the police were violating state law and improperly blocking Freedom Sleepers from exercising their right to view the agendas.

The trial is slated to start at 10 AM, but may start later due to judicial delays, questionable out-of-sight conferences with the judge and a bloated docket of drug war and poverty-crime cases.

On the horizon is the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Sleepers with a special event scheduled for July 5th. On that Tuesday, the 52nd Sleep-Out, activists plan a gathering, a march, a memorial for those who have died in the last year, and a possible film showing. To be followed by the usual night on the sidewalk contesting the City’s Sleeping Ban.

To follow the history of the Freedom Sleep-Out’s go to and click on the Calendar button at the top of the page, then scroll back through earlier weeks to read the Tuesday announcements.

This announcement composed and is the responsibility of Robert Norse.
Added to the calendar on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 12:02PM
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