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Indybay Feature

Violence, Sweeps, and Seizure--Escalating SCPD Policy

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
In spite of court decisions and massive COVID-era appropriations as well as decades of protests and petitions, police have continued and seem to be escalating "drive 'em out of town" sweeps with new cruelties and illegalities. Yesterday at the Mime Troupe, I passed out a flyer denouncing unusually explicit and recent threats, seizures, and citations attacking each encampment as it arises.
aug_20_flyer.pdf_600_.jpg
SAN FRANCISCO INSPIRATION
Some history in San Francisco of a court struggle around the issue of police violence against homeless survival encampments:

Last September, the Coalition on Homelessness and associated lawyers filed a lawsuit demanding the destruction stop. In December Judge Donna Ryu banned San Francisco's cops from clearing most homeless encampments, and from citing people for sleeping in public, and from enforcing several other laws aimed at brutalizing the homeless people living on the streets while a federal lawsuit against the city moves forward in the courts.

In early July 2023, the Coalition filed another suit noting police were ignoring Ryu's order and demanded: the Courts appoint a Special Master to oversee City misbehavior.

The Coalition also suggested a settlement around these demands (KRON news):

1. “Fill All Vacant Supportive Housing Units: Make the improvements necessary to be able to fill the close to 1,000 currently vacant supportive housing units, and fill all units within 30 days of any new vacancy.”
2. “Expend Unused But Budgeted Funds: Spend down unspent Proposition C (Nov. 2018) and Proposition I (Nov. 2020) funds as intended for housing, shelter, treatment, and prevention by the end of the fiscal year.”
3. “Make Temporary Shelter Available & Accessible: Maintain a shelter waitlist to allow access through 311 and drop-in centers while also allowing for same-day lines to ensure access to unused shelter beds. Shelter should be an emergency stopgap measure that leads to permanent housing. Shelters available through this system should include all shelter sites, including congregate, semi-congregate, tiny home, and non-congregate shelter options and navigation centers. Shelter placements must include accessible options for those with a disability.”
4.“Implement a Better Plan to Resolve Encampments: Social services personnel should actually conduct detailed, individualized assessments of the needs of specific unhoused residents. This better ensures that people receive appropriate services to exit homelessness and are not being pushed from block to block without a housing solution.”
5.“Provide Better Trash Disposal & Sidewalk Cleanings: Everyone, including unhoused people, want streets free of trash and debris. Such cleaning schedules must follow posted signage and should not be conducted between 7:00PM and 7:00AM when unhoused residents are trying to sleep. The city cannot use street cleanings as a pretext to harass unhoused residents instead of appropriately cleaning the area.” More at https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/homeless-advocates-give-list-of-demands-to-san-francisco/ar-AA1f6xVj

UPCOMING COURT HEARING
The San Francisco City Attorney quickly rejected the demands and filed a reply: https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/san-francisco-city-attorney-fires-back-at-homeless-advocates-allegations/?ipid=promo-link-block1

On August 23, federal courts will hear the San Francisco City Attorney's appeal from Judge Ryu's December Injunction requiring the City authorities to stop its demolition of homeless encampments in San Francisco and trashing of encampment property.

On August 24 courts will hear the Coalition's appeal to demand enforcement of December injunction.

SAME STORY IN SANTA CRUZ
The Santa Cruz City Council and City Manager has heard similar concerns at Council meetings, regarding encampments. Rather than remedy conditions with portapotties, trash pick-up's, never replacing those removed when the Benchlands encampment was demolished, the city police have doubled down with shock and awe illegalities.

Homeless advocates, even non-attorneys, have successfully filed TROs (Temporary Restraining Orders) in Sausalito, San Rafael, Petaluma, and other cities to stop the destruction of homeless communities. So has Santa Cruz--twice. Once for the Ross Camp, which lasted a week. And a second for the San Lorenzo upper Park, which created a tolerated campground for nearly two years.

The same fundamental shelter deficiencies and civil rights violations exist for the majority of unhoused folks in Santa Cruz. Time to try again.

MAKING READY
In prep for ambitious attorneys and determined activist, the community needs to create contacts and lines of communication with those outside, gathering instances of abuse in as much detail as possible.

The flyer posted is a modified one given out at the Mime Troupe on Saturday August 19th.

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