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Benchlands Resistance Organizing

Saturday, September 17, 2022
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Event Type:
Kevin Rothwell
Location Details:
Benchlands near the 2nd stairway down from the Courthouse parking lot as you walk from Water St. towards the Duck Pond in San Lorenzo Park.

Several dozen folks were displaced and the property they could not remove was trashed in Phase One last Monday. Those who fled with their property deeper into the Benchlands encampment report being pursued and threatened by police claiming the property they took with them was "trash".

Several days ago, a police officer collapsed Lawrenceh McGregor's tent while he was inside, injuring him and destroying the tent. The officer reportedly claimed he had "fled" from the Phase One area (now destroyed and bulldozed) to the Phase Two area (slated for bulldozing noon Monday September 19th).

On Wednesday, attorney Anthony Prince of the California Homeless Union, Alicia Kuhl, and Keith McHenry advised a group of Benchlands residents of strategies for resisting the illegal demolition of their camps. These included a possible Temporary Restraining Order stopping the City Manager's phased demolition, communities to other areas but maintaining solidarity, and/or filling up the inadequate shelter spaces to protect the remainder of the Benchlands campers.

The Martin v. Boise court decision bans prosecution of unhoused folks living outside under ordinances that criminalize their presence unless there is alternate indoor shelter, Such shelter does not exist in Santa Cruz for the totality of the Benchlands residents (much less the broader unhoused community. That community faces harassment, displacement and camp destruction under the City's harsh CSSO (Camping Services and Standards Ordinance).

Prince and the Union have previously secured limited injunctions in Santa Cruz, Sausalito, Watsonville, Novato, Sacramento, and elsewhere. Some are pessimistic about the prospects of an injunction in the Benchlands because of the public safety problems created last winter by flooding. Others believe the history of encampment destruction affecting hundreds of residents over the last year and the statements of the City Manager stating that the CSSO is now legally enforceable make an injunction a possible success.

Come to the Benchlands at 6 PM Saturday September 17th to map out further strategies for dealing with the short term deadline of September 19th, and the longer term creeping devastation coldly planned the rest of the Benchlands encampment in phases.

Bring friends, video equipment, cameras, notebooks, and warm clothing. Rain is a possibility.
Added to the calendar on Fri, Sep 16, 2022 10:16PM
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Pat Colby
Sat, Sep 17, 2022 10:07PM
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