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Freedom SleepOut #65 on Eve of ACLU Forum, Follows Salinas Shutdown of Flagpole Community

Tuesday, October 04, 2016
5:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Event Type:
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Location Details:
At the center of City Government--where peaceful protest is only allowed before 10 PM--when peaceful assembly becomes illegal on the City Hall grounds. Folks then assemble with sleeping gear on the sidewalk at the entranceway across from the main library on Center St. between Locust and Church. It goes from late afternoon Tuesday to mid-morning Wednesday.

Building on more than a year of weekly defiance to the gentrification Sleeping Ban law, Freedom Sleepers and well wishers will again gather to create a Safe Sidewalk Sleeping zone for the houseless community October 4th.

Activists elsewhere credit the Santa Cruz Freedom SleepOut's with inspiring both Berkeley's "First They Came for the Homeless" protest encampment at their Old City Hall last winter and Salinas's six-month long nightly Flagpole Community at Salinas City Hall.

The latter ended Saturday night as Salinas police threatened enforcement of a new harsh anti-sleeping law passed by City Council there on September 20th. (See Final Rally at and .

Flagpole freedom fighter Wes White says he'll be continuing the fight in the courts, on the street, and in the upcoming election campaign where he is running for Salinas City Council.

Last week, the Mayor Cynthia Mathews, defying the Brown (Public Meetings) Act, moved Oral Communications from its printed agenda time at 5 PM nearly two hours ahead shutting out half a dozen would-be speakers. With no indication of this radical shift on the printed agenda, the cranky queen of cutback ended the meeting at mid-afternoon, ignoring tenants rights, homeless suffering, and other outstanding issues that are not acknowledged, must less debated at the City Council Talk Shop.

The previous City Council practice was to hold the token speaking time for the public at or after 5 PM. If Council business were concluded before that time, the Council would recess and return. Not under Mayor "Two Minute" Mathews (so called because she has regularly cut back public comment, even when no other items were pressing and few speakers were in line).

There's no meeting of the Shitty Council this week (though the public bathrooms at City Hall will presumably continue to be closed "for repairs" or "because of vandalism").

Santa Cruz Bus Rider's Association Founder and Freedom Sleeper Supporter Elise Casby wrote: "Last Tuesday, I went to view the agenda for the day, which is usually posted up next to the public council chambers in glass cases. The doors to the chambers were locked, and there were two (2) notes taped up on the door. Both notices announced that the council had more or less done away with any way to participate that day. Oops.

On the notes taped up to the locked doors, in the city council chamber room where I thought an actual City Council meeting would be taking place at that time, there was something stated about an agenda item that had been pulled at the behest of a certain citizen. There was something else stated about the fact that the council would be having a closed session somewhere- in a different part of the city. There was a little more, but in truth, this was a very problematic move by Santa Cruz City Council and possibly the city attorney, and most of all, for all of us citizens.

Curbhugger Chris Doyen, a tireless and articulate media activist who led the 2010 PeaceCamp protest at the County Building and City Hall, has announced a new book ( on his work with Anonymous.

Now going by the nomme de guerre of Commander X, Curbhugger provided a storm of media for the 3-month long protest against the Sleeping Ban that apparently forced the City Attorney and his yes-men on City Council to pass MC 6.36.055 which required dismissal of all Camping Ban tickets if victims were on the River St. Shelter or Paul Lee Loft waiting lists.

The Homeless (Lack of) Services Center Phil Kramer and the HLOSC Board have narrowed the Paul Lee loft entrance criteria to having a "pathway to housing". This requires participants to have government or private income; additional "don't enable the homeless" policies ban folks outside without funds from the meals during the day. The River St. Shelter under Monica Martinez's Encompass program still "allows" phone sign-up and confirmation at 459-6644.

Activist Raeylyn Bridgette Butcher recently responded to a HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom) e-mail with the following report and appeal:

"...Need help asap! I am a representative for all the homeless of Marysville Calif about 150 tents and about 300 homeless people. In the last 60 days 2 areas of encampments have been destroyed with bulldozers. One encampment ("Hollywood") is scheduled to be bulldozed over. It has about 100 people and 60 tents..."

"They want to banish us from the city. They have destroyed property, lives dreams etc They have taken all restrooms out of city and told store owners not to allow homeless to get water. They want to stop feeding us in parks... On October 7 they will be there to bulldoze us down. We are gonna stand strong or die. We will not allow this act of terrorism --trying to take our water, food, and now our survival. So if any body can help us we will be ever grateful." Bridgette Butcher -- homeless mayor of the homeless

Butcher can be contacted at 530-415-8481 or ethean.rb [at] .

Media reports Marysville, WA (as distinguished from California's Marysville) has, like numerous other cities modified (or eliminated) its Camping Ban out of fear of lawsuit by federal or private parties. Denying those outside the right to sleep at night when there is no alternative shelter is a clear violation of the 8th Amendment of the Federal Constitution as "cruel and unusual punishment"--and more remarkably--is being increasingly recognized as such. This comes after a crackdown law last October. (See ).
In a response pioneered by Miami and Fort Lauderdale FL anti-homeless bureaucrats nearly twenty years ago in the Pottinger case, Marysville, WA City Council moved to amend its camping ban to designate two "legal" spots. See .

This follows a crackdown by various cities in Washington state (See ). And a move to significantly liberalize passed last year in Vancouver, WA See .

The local ACLU has for years silent on the Sleeping Ban and criminalization of the homeless generally, has made tepid and token efforts in the last year opposing the Ban and supporting the one-time effort of former Mayor Don Lane (himself silent throughout his career) to end the Sleeping Ban.

Anti-homeless psuedo-Socialist Mike Rotkin has retired from the Board (but is still swinging establishment cudgels against the poor on the Transportation Board). In a move by the majority led by vice-chair, activist, and perennial City Council candidate Steve Pleich, the Board has now slated a "Forum on Houselessness" Wednesday October 5 7-9 PM at 705 Front St. (the Auditorium of the Museum of Art and History).

There activist and writer Mike Rhodes will be discussing his new book Dispatches from the War Zone about the (temporarily) successful lawsuit in Fresno that won $2.3 million for lawyers and homeless folks, whose property was seized in bulldozing of encampments. Rhodes and his daughter Simone pioneered the lawsuit, corralled out-of-town lawyers, and led the charge back in 2005-6 to allow homeless for a period of time to sleep in their own encampments under the freeways (and even supplied them with portapotties and trash pick-up's). See "Civil Rights Groups File Suit Against City of Fresno to Stop Raids Against Homeless People" at .

Book tours are nice for authors and Rhodes deserves attention more than most. However, the ACLU continues to ignore basic civil liberties issues with occasional publicity but no follow-up on even the most basic issues like seizure of homeless property, relentlessly expanding curfews, abusive selective police enforcement against the poor, and, of course, relief against the Sleeping Ban. HUFF and Pleich's Homeless Legal Assistance Project have not followed up on announced court actions

Rhodes, a long-time peace, labor, and justice activist, was writing for his newspaper Community Alliance and Santa Cruz Indymedia was writing about abuses against the homeless as early as 2002. See "CITY OF FRESNO CRIMINALIZES POVERTY" at . He's been issuing regular reports about Fresno government attacks on the homeless since 2004.

Andy Carcello, evicted with pneumonia from Phil Kramer's Homeless (Lack of) Resources Center [HLOSC] at Coral St., has announced he'll be taking a speaker phone call from a HUD representative at the weekly HUFF meeting tomorrow at 1 PM.

The meeting starts at 11 AM, but will be extended for the call. Carcello is challenging conditions at the HLOSC for disability abuse, black mold, bedbugs, services cutback, and other health-threatening specifics. HUFF meets at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific, next to the Bike Church. All are welcome. Coffee will be served.

The weekly sidewalk protest is apparently sustaining and growing as it continues week after week.
There's regularly evening soup and morning coffee there as well as company, somtimes cranky, sometimes kindly. Come and sleep or just come and visit!
Added to the calendar on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 9:46AM
by Robert Norse
Raelyn Butcher's report from Marysville, CA notes of the houseless community there "about 100 people and 60 tents..." The accurate statement is "100 people and 60 camps..." Sorry for the error.
§Additional Update on Salinas Shinanagans
by Robert Norse
Salinas activists protested at their Board of Supervisors against the new smash-the-protest Camping Ban passed by City Council on September 20th.

Video of some of the testimony at the Board meeting can be found at

Some of the prior public testimony from the Salinas City Council meeting is available on my radio show at (2 hours and 50 minutes into the audio file)

The Monterey Herald has twice deleted my comment, reprinted below, about their faithful parroting of the Salinas police and bureaucrats lying excuses for a city-wide law that criminalizes all homeless, though aimed specifically at political protesters at .
To understand this article--and what's missing or misstated--you must go back to the September 20th meeting of the Salinas City Council.

At that meeting, the City Attorney, City Manager, and Mayor suddenly discovered an "emergency" at the orderly and peaceful protest encampment nightly outside City Hall which the law (passed 6-1) immediately enforceable.

The Council--over almost unanimous public opposition--made it a jailing crime to be there (or anywhere on public property) with survival sleeping gear even though facilities for the hundreds of homeless folks to sleep at night somewhere--anywhere--safely do not exist.

The outgoing Police Chief presented no evidence of " illicit and unsanitary activity on downtown Salinas property, including drug sales and sex on the library’s front lawn" as claimed by City Attorney Callihan. He along with the City Manager and the Mayor apparently cooked up this unconstitutional measure behind closed doors with no input from service providers, civil liberties folks, or the homeless themselves.

This cruel and anonymous smear of a whole community of poor and disabled people shows the depths to which local bureaucrats and politicians will sink to keep the spotlight of protest away from them. The police chief presented one police report documenting only one complaint in the last six months. Only one Councilmember spoke out against this body blow to the survival community of homeless people.

The superfluous urination and defecation bans (already banned under state law) are particularly outrageous given the closed city bathrooms at night and lack of facilities generally around the City.

The smear is just another putrid cover for the quick and dirty dismissal of a whole class of people and the introduction of more threats and tools against the poor--even when they take care to provide for themselves the survival campground that the City refuses to set up (not to mention shelter or housing).

Other than some muttered concerns, the Board of Supervisors has taken no action around this issue, that I'm aware of, leaving homeless people to freeze or face police dispersal and property seizure if they put up tents.
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