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As Weather grows Chilly, Freedom SleepOut #66 Keeps the Homeless Fires Burning

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
3:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Event Type:
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Location Details:
Concrete beddown along Center St. between Locust and Church across from the Main Library

The weekly public education and do-it-yourself safe sleeping zone squad will be on the sidewalk starting around 3 PM for the 66th time tonight. The vigil usually breaks up mid-morning Wednesday, though watchful eyes on security thugs roaming City Hall and the library are always welcome. Food Not Bombs will be providing food, along with likely soup from India Joze's kitchen, compliments of Jumbo Gumbo Joe Schultz. Coffee usually appears in the morning.

Smart phones, cameras, and/or video cameras are always welcome. Donations of blankets, sleeping bags, food, and friendship are also encouraged.

Freedom Sleepers and their supporters are invited to dose down a second time with coffee and commentary at the 11 AM HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific Wednesday October 12.

Food Not Bombs cooks report some wandering skateboarders made off with the Food Not Bombs signs last weekend--on two successive days. Whether this was done to express political hostility or to get tokens of FNB by admirers is unknown. However the FNB gang would like the signs returned if possible.

Last week Mayor Mathews essentially eliminated Oral Communications last meeting by moving Oral Communications from its announced agenda time around 5 PM to shortly after 3 PM (when the short Council meeting ended). See .

Oral Communications is the only period when the public can speak on items not on the official agenda. Items that don't make the regular agenda usually include almost everything relevant to houseless people such as police violence, cutback in social services, discrimination by local officials and businesses, laws that criminalize the poor, attacks on recyclers, selective enforcement, etc. But given the brief gasp of a period folks are allowed to speak and the obliviousness of City Council, it's often unclear whether speaking there (without a crowd behind you) is relevant at all.

This week's Oral Communication--if Mathews follows the procedure that defying the Brown (Public Meetings) Act protections that are supposed to protect the public--will be either around 5 PM or whenever the meeting ends. So if you can squeeze your remarks into the 2 minutes Mathews allows within a further limited 30-minute time period for all speakers, speak on!

There will be no evening session. The afternoon session starting at 2:40 PM has two items of potential interest to folks outside: Item #16 "Tiny Houses in Santa Cruz" and #17 "21st Century Policing Task Force Recommendations" reportedly involving deployment of police body cameras. Meanwhile, apparently, Council will ignore the Winter Shelter Crisis, the flood of anti-homeless camping and "closed area" tickets, and past violent abuses by the SCPD.

Since the Council cuts back public comment on the Consent Agenda severely, these items will likely come up around 3 PM.

October 15 at Live Oak Family Resource Center on 17th Ave. near Capitola Road next to the Valero Station, California Rural Legal Assistance will run a Free Clinic all day from 10 AM to 6 PM. There will also be a Tenants rights and Organizing Workshop 2-4:30 p.m. Since tenants are a small step away from houselessness, and the houseless are a big step away from housing, it might be a good place to make connections.

The suit holds the city responsible for failing to provide chronically homeless disabled individuals a legal, safe place to sleep. The city’s practice of providing limited shelter to the local homeless population, while citing those forced to sleep outside because they can’t access the shelter “discriminates against, criminalizes, and endangers disabled, homeless persons and, in so doing, violates their civil rights,” the suit claims.

An ACLU of Southern California report, “Nowhere to Live: The Homeless Crisis in Orange County & How to End It,” found that since Orange County supervisors approved a Ten-Year Plan to eradicate homelessness in 2010, the homeless crisis has grown more acute. On any given night, there are over 4,400 people in the county sleeping on the streets.

The ACLU's Forum on "Houselessness" was held to a packed room last Wednesday, and featured lots of homeless input. Many spoke out angrily and eloquently about their experience around exclusions, negligence, and dehumanizing treatment at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center. The HLOSC has foreclosed walk-in shelter for another year and cut meals to those not in their client-funded programs.

Writer and activist Mike Rhodes gave a stirring presentation of the partially successful Fresno homeless struggle for rights and restitution. There were probably more houseless folks there than for any other recent political event.

However some were frustrated that no future action was clearly or specifically planned. Though the local ACLU has come out against the Sleeping Ban, it has generally passed on other local civil liberties issues affecting the homeless community and even those impacting renters, workers, and middle-class people more broadly. See "ACLU Chair Closes Monthly Board of Directors Meeting, Homeless Issues Off the Agenda" at


Visible public encampments either as protests or survival camps have formed in Berkeley and Marysville. Free Radio Santa Cruz covered both cities last Sunday.

Raelyn Butcher, who calls herself the "Homeless Mayor of Marysville", and her partner Brian declared their intention to stand their ground in a threatened October 17th demolition action planned by the City (Listen in at -- 2 hours and 36 minutes into the audio file).

"Deadly" Dan McMullan, a disabled activist and Berkeley Commissioner, has been supporting a street sleep-out in Berkeley opposing the suffocation of services there along with activists Mike Zint, formerly of Berkeley's Liberty City encampment, and Mike Lee, radical candidate for Mayor (Listen in at -- 42 minutes into the audio file)


Added to the calendar on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 1:31PM
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