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Indybay Feature

Going Into Year 2 with the Freedom Sleepers

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
5:00 PM - 5:00 AM
Event Type:
Keith McHenry
Location Details:
On the edge of City Hall, where city police, rangers, and security guards have driven the homeless protesters--along the Center St. sidewalk across from the Main Library

In the wake of escalating repression downtown, Freedom Sleepers will be gathering tonight for SleepOut #53. Police continue to harass and cite homeless people under MC 6.36 (the nighttime outside and vehicular Sleeping Ban).

Artists Joff Jones and Alex Skelton were arrested for the 5th time downtown last Wednesday for displaying their artwork "outside the brass/blue boxes". (See "City directed police shutdown of artists and PUBLIC ALERT on Pacific Ave" at ). In a bold move, they reappeared several days later defiantly repeating their assertion of First Amendment rights (and subsequently wheeling about enlarged copies of the First Amendment in colonial garb).

Nationally, the police murders of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota have already prompted a local Sunday protest (unfortunately not specifying local police discrimination and lack of transparency).

Another Community Meeting around the issue is scheduled for Friday, July 15 6-8 PM at 703 Pacific. HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom) have repeatedly raised local issues and hope that more "mainstream" activists, such as Pleich, Schnaar, and Glover--all running for City Council, will actually get specific in criticism. See ""Homeless People Matter" Protest Gets Honks, Volunteers, at Cop Corner" at . Specific concerns (that needed to be updated) are itemized at . .

Since City Council is on vacation while their police and the expanded Parks and Recreation Downtown Rangers do their dirty work, so there's no Council meeting. Snakey staffers like Julie Hende and Scott Collins under the dark tutorship of City Manager Martin Bernal are continuing their oppressive work. Protests can still be registered (hopefully en masse) at staff offices. Possible targets: the forthcoming nighttime RV ban, the on-going Stay Away Order scandal, the stepped up bullying downtown, and the gentrification/sterilization of the City Hall Courtyard area.

Meanwhile activists Phil Posner and Steve Pleich are trying to coax a San Jose attorney to join the campaign to end the Sleeping Ban through legal action. Previous efforts to pursue sleep deprivation in Small Claims Court, enlist the help of the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty, and sue for the loss of homeless property seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Last week, library officials arrived in the morning after the 52nd Sleep-Out to demand removal of the makeshift commode, activists had moved (under pressure from the police) from the City Hall side of the street to the side of the library. Both the library and City Hall have closed and locked their bathrooms at night in spite of appeals from the Freedom Sleepers. Library supervisor Lee then called police who rapidly arrived, ignoring activists concerns that an enclosed and accountable commode was certainly preferable to folks shitting and pissing at random. To no avail. Tonight's protesters will have to find their own accommodations.

For a review of last week's Anniversary SleepOut go to "Freedom Sleepers Anniversary: One Year of Protesting the Sleeping Ban at City Hall" at

Food and drink will be limited tonight, but likely present. Folks are invited to join the protest even if for a brief time to provide heart and hope to those who face the heavy hand of the city's gentrification program nightly.

This description of tonight's event is the product of Robert Norse and represents his views and understanding of the protest and other recent events.
Added to the calendar on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 10:36AM
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