Sunday, April 21, 2013

Humboldt County war against folks without homes

Defend those without homes! campaign page [link]

2013-12 "Eureka city makes choice for Houseless residents: Religious Re-education, or Death!" [link]

201-11-29 "Houseless resident in Eureka, CA, terrorized by Eureka Sergeant Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez on Thanksgiving's eve" [link]

2013-05-04 "PLEASE BE WITNESS: Cops to CLEAR Peoples' Camps Thurs 5/9":
Thursday (May 9th), the Cops plan to go behind Bayshore Mall and CLEAR out the camps of people who have no other place to go.
Please be part of a strong COPWATCH & PUBLIC PRESENCE.
These raids are unacceptable. And they are NOT "clean-ups." (When someone cleans her house, that is very different than being forcefully evicted and thrown onto the streets).
These raids amount to systematic human rights violations.
Even if we cannot stop the police raids, YOUR presence can prevent violent abuse and theft by the police against people merely trying to reside SOMEWHERE.
We don't know what time(s) the police will raid. We need to prepare to take shifts and have a way to contact more people to come bear witness, beginning early Thursday morning through. Before Thursday, if we get any tips of a particular time the cops can be expected, I will send an email. Let's organize this now.
In preparation, please bring any or all of the following: Cameras, good hearts, observant eyes, cell phones, snacks, water, courage and solidarity.

2013-04-21 "City to Bayshore Mall homeless: It's time to move on; occupants brace for cleanup, 38 encampments targeted"
by Kaci Poor "The Times-Standard" []:
Clad in a jacket and fleece pajama pants, 43-year-old Roni scanned the secluded encampment behind Eureka's Bayshore Mall that she, her husband and their 21-year-old son have called home since summer.
”We feel that if we keep clean, don't start fires, don't start trouble and stay quiet that we will be left alone,” said Roni, who, like many of the homeless individuals the Times-Standard interviewed Saturday, declined to provide her last name. “We don't want attention. We just need time to get ourselves up and going again.”
Roni said her husband -- the pair aren't officially married, she said, but have been together for seven years -- just got a new job, and she is expecting her disability payments to start coming through.
”We are just waiting for all of that to get us up and going,” she said. “We need time, we have nowhere else to go.”
The time Roni said she and her family desperately need may soon be up.
In the coming weeks, workers are expected to conduct a cleanup sweep, targeting an estimated 38 encampments in the area directly behind the mall. City officials and law enforcement officers have already started documenting conditions and informing the more than 100 people living in the patchwork tarp and tent structures -- including Roni and her family -- that they will have to pack up their belongings and move on.
The city's main motivation for clearing out the area, Chief Building Official Brian Gerving said, is the environmental damage being caused by the campers, and the resulting public safety risk.
”The current estimate for the homeless population in our city hovers right around 2,500 people,” Gerving said. “If there are 100 people back there that we are dealing with, that's not a very significant portion. But in terms of problems in that area ... I think the issues there are very disproportionate.”
Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Ed Laidlaw said public safety is a huge concern behind the mall -- both to the occupants and to first responders.
”We've had incidents where firefighters have literally had to walk in front of an apparatus and clear away debris placed on the path to gain access to an area,” he said. “This is done purposely to impede access.”
Laidlaw said he has seen the number of calls for service, especially fire calls, accelerate in the past three or so months.
”To be honest, the general public is scared to go down there because of the conditions,” he said. “Our intent is to clean it up, not just to force people out.”
Laidlaw said the large volume of trash -- including propane tanks, human waste and batteries -- found at the campsites is also a hazard to the environment.
”A portion of the property down there that is being camped on is intended for vegetation growth, to offset the mall property,” Laidlaw said. “The individuals that have chosen to take up residence there are impacting that significantly. Even the open areas, outside the remediation site, is public land. That means no camping.”
Eureka City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson said the city has made several efforts to clean up the area in the past. This time will be different, she said.
”This is the first time we are trying to come up with a long-term management plan to help prevent this from becoming an issue again, or at least as quickly,” she said.
In addition to the planned cleanup, Gerving said the city is working closely with different service providers to assist the area's homeless. The city plans to eventually cut back vegetation from the forested area so officers and other security personnel can better monitor and discourage camping. Gerving said the city plans to operate within the constraints of state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Coastal Commission regulations.
Gerving couldn't provide an estimated total cost for the cleanup -- which he said will be split between the city and mall -- but he said it would number in the thousands of dollars.
Torie, a homeless woman who has lived behind the mall for the past three years with her boyfriend, said while she is slowly packing up her camp, she is skeptical of the city's plans.
”Oh, cleaning everything out is not going to stop them,” she said. “They'll just move on to the next open spot. Where else will they go?”
Torie said she understands the city's concerns and she can see the large volume of trash left by other homeless individuals in the area. But she doesn't buy the city's claim that there are alternatives.
Torie said many of the campers are like herself: They have a partner or a dog who they don't want to leave.
”You know, the city has been saying forever that they want to help us out, that they have all of these options, but then we try to go to these shelters and you know what? They won't let us live together unless we are married and they won't let us keep our dogs,” she said. “That's really not an option.”
Sheila Heflin, another homeless woman who has been living in the area with her three dogs since the summer, said the city will never be able to root out all of the illegal campers. The simple reason, she said, is because there isn't anywhere else for them.
”You know where I will go when they tell me to leave?” she said. “Right into a new bush.”

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