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Indybay Feature

Stormy Times for Freedom SleepOut #83

Date:
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Time:
4:00 PM - 4:00 AM
Event Type:
Protest
Organizer/Author:
Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email:
Phone:
575-770--3377
Location Details:
Under tents, tarps, umbrellas, in the eaves of buildings, and in cars along the sidewalks of Santa Cruz City Hall (Public Assembly being forbidden on the City Hall grounds after 10 PM)

BACK AGAIN FOR THE 83rd TIME!
A group of unhoused folks, joined by several housed supporters, will gather again Tuesday afternoon for another night of sleeping-under-the-eaves of City Council buildings and then, after being rousted by police in the wee hours, tenting-on-the-wet-sidewalks.

In spite of the broad outcry against Trump's intensification of Obama's anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies, there has been no call for the "sanctuary cities" proposal coming back to City Council this month to include our own refugees--the local homeless community.

Those without lodging face $200 citations, additional stay-away orders, and regular police harassment. Police are also targeting homeless Freedom Sleepers. One was told by police he would be cited if he joined their protest directly, so he watches from across the street.

MIXED CHARITY AND CRUELTY FROM CHURCHES
As rainstorms pound Santa Cruz, soggy folks outside report continued police harassment. Treking in to a weekly church meal Monday at the Calvary Episcopal Church, one outsider reported being ticketed and then driven out into the rain. Others voiced continued support for the on-going Freedom Sleepers weekly Tuesday night protest.

The once-a-week Calvary meal, while ample and filling, is policed by a guard who stops anyone from leaving the room with food. Those who aren't in the very limited Association of Faith Communities program limited to 20 people are likely to be driven away from the outside of the church building where they may be huddling against the rain.

OAKLAND-BERKELEY PROTESTS, CRACKDOWNS CONTINUE
Berkeley's relentlessly persistent encampment run by First They Came for the Homeless [FTCFTH] maintains its small community on the Berkeley-Oakland border next to the BART line on Martin Luther King Drive. "For three weeks, we've been left alone," noted one activist there. That appears to be the longest ceasefire ever, considering the more than 15 raids and eviction notices the community has suffered. "All we want is a simple secure place to put down our tents and maintain some stability and dignity while we search for housing and employment. Most of us are disabled," noted Brett Schnaper.

Interviews with Schnaper and Mike Zint can be heard at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb170205.mp3 (Shnaper: 1 hour and 30 minutes into the audio file) (Zint: 3 hours and 13 minutes into the file)

Meanwhile Oakland authorities are actually providing portapotties and trash pick-up's to another encampment several miles down the road. A six month period will run out at the end of March when the City claims it will have "housed" the 50+ residents there. Tents are crunched together, squeezed between concrete barriers to stop the encampment from growing.

Several blocks away, the "Promised Land" Village, set up by housed and homeless activists in a park under the freeway was demolished by City cops. Activists had set up wooden structures and began to provide medical and other services that the City was failing to provide. The Village, an outgrowth of the anti-Trump protests of mid-January survived 10 days before being crushed.

Meanwhile, other Obama-Trump-villes have taken root by the side of the road in Oakland, Berkeley, and other Bay Area cities. Support for the Santa Cruz encampments--where most homeless people live--remains a taboo subject here.


Added to the calendar on Mon, Feb 6, 2017 11:24PM
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Robert Norse
Thu, Feb 9, 2017 4:31PM
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