Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz [link]
* "The Santa Cruz Eleven Are Political Scapegoats" by Linda LeMaster [thestreetspirit.org/the-santa-cruz-eleven-are-political-scapegoats]
* Linda Lemaster's blogt [hearthbylinda.blogspot.com/]
"Santa Cruz Eleven, the Lessons of Food Not Bombs and The Broader Austerity Crisis"
by Keith McHenry [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/09/08/18742907.php]:
2013-09-08 Notes by Norse: Keith McHenry has visited Santa Cruz numerous times to support the Santa Cruz Eleven (four of whom are still charged with phony felonies). Their "crime" was to report on, witness, and be supportive of a peaceful occupation of a 3 1/2 year vacant bank building leased by the predator Wells Fargo Bank. McHenry co-founded Food Not Bombs over three decades ago. His non-violent direct action has inspired millions throughout the world. His example and that of other Food Not Bombs activists has prompted the creation of hundreds of local Food Not Bombs chapters in spite of repeated campaigns of official repression.
Eleven people in Santa Cruz were charged with felonies after being accused of the temporary "occupation" in November 2011 of an abandoned bank building at 75 River Street that was owned by Wells Fargo. District Attorney Rebekah Young targeted eleven local community organizers with trespass and vandalism charges. The perfect political target in a city where banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America had illegally foreclosed on families forcing them on to the streets where it is illegal to sleep outside and must risk arrest just for living in their own community.
The case of the Santa Cruz Eleven comes during an important time when millions of people are taking action against the corrupt economic system. The real criminals are those who designed and implemented the policies that have ruined families and caused the suffering of so many. Wells Fargo executives Donald James, John Stumf and the other board members should be held at the county jail waiting trial for grand theft. In my June 2013 visit to Santa Cruz several people told me how the banks and government officials robbed them of their homes taking all they had after working hard their entire lives.
In March 2011 people organized a protest outside the Watsonville Branch of Wells Fargo in Santa Cruz County. They were outraged that the bank had taken the homes of so many people in the community. Lauro Navarro came to the protest because the banks had just evicted him and his family from a home he had built with his own hands. Mayor Daniel Dodge of Watsonville attended the protest saying that “This is a real crisis that hits home.” He also told the media that more than 8,000 homes locally had been affected since 2008 worth $4 billion and a loss of $26 million in property taxes. Nearly 200 teachers had to be let go as a result.
The stress of foreclosure can be too much for some. Newbury Park resident Norman Rousseau was preparing to move his family into an RV in May 2012 when e shot himself to death distressed from a year long struggle with Wells Fargo. The bank had claimed Rousseau had not made his May 2009 mortgage payment using this to justify the taking of his home but during the law suit the bank admitted there had been a mix up. “Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Mr. Rousseau at this difficult time. The eviction has been postponed and we will continue to work with Mrs. Rousseau," a Wells Fargo spokesperson told the Huffington Post in an email. "Despite current reports, we tried repeatedly to find affordable options for the family."
Evidence that the banks systematically robbed thousands of families of their homes and saving. In a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts Bank of America employees have come forward to describe how they intentionally mislead homeowners using the Home Affordable Modification Program to take their homes. I have heard the story over and over from people eating with Food Not Bombs. They were told to qualify for a mortgage modification that they had to stop making payment for two or three months using the default to justify foreclosure. “Bank of America’s practice is to string homeowners along with no apparent intention of providing the permanent loan modifications it promises,” said Erika Brown, one of the former employees. The damning evidence would spur a series of criminal investigations of B of A executives, if we still had a rule of law in this country for Wall Street banks."
The Santa Cruz Eleven are understandably worried about having to spend time in prison if convicted and considering the evidence of a major nationally coordinated effort to permanently silence the movement this is a realistic concern. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund recovered nearly 200 pages of FBI and Homeland Security internal memos that showed that the authorities believed that Occupy could become a threat to corporate power so much that there was even a plan to use suppressed sniper rifles to kill the leadership if necessary.
So what is the most effective way defend activists like the eleven facing prison in Santa Cruz? The first thought of coarse is hire lawyers and formulate a legal defense but that might NOT be enough under the currant atmosphere. I say this from experience having faced 25 to life in prison for my work with Food Not Bombs in San Francisco. I had the best attorneys but the pressure to silence me was larger than the fact that all the evidence made it clear I had never participated in any of the crimes I had been accused of. The only thing that keep me out of prison was political organizing.
The business and political leaders pulled out all the stops in an effort to make sure that the public would not be moved to support the idea that food should have a priority over bombs. The law was manipulated, a permit process was invented to justify an end to our effort to change public opinion. The corporate media and most local political leaders sided with the campaign to drive Food Not Bombs out of sight. When injunctions, arrests, beatings and infiltration failed to work the authorities framed the "leader" of the movement making me out to be a violent irrational terrorist attacking city officials and stealing beepers and milk crates in my crazed attempt to redirect military spending towards social services like education and healthcare.
Our legal defense was nearly impossible since those that organized my "crimes' controlled the evidence, media and the legal system. On the other hand we had the truth on our side which we did all we could share. That truth was that our society is broken and that is easy to see when hundreds of people line up twice a day to eat with Food Not Bombs outside City Hall in San Francisco while billions are spent on the military to fight wars for oil, profits and power.
We video tapped nearly every arrest of our volunteers for providing vegan meals and free literature to the public. We filmed hungry families horrified and distressed as they watched the police drag their meals away to the trash. One by one volunteers would be smashed into the sidewalk for sharing bagels or tossed salad. The images told the ugly truth of an America that would rather let its people starve then threaten the profits of the military industrial complex.
So our focus moved from the courts to the streets and offices of influential human rights groups. We organized a letter writing campaign providing flyers at every meal asking for support. The flyers included a request to write President Clinton's Justice Department Civil Rights Division, Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission seeking an investigation into our case. Each organizations's address was included on the flyer. We also provided internal government and police memos, photos, affidavits and our video of our arrests to the organizations listed on our flyer and delivered additional copies to the offices of foreign governments at the United Nations. We also provided copies to the American Civil Liberties Union and other local allies and activist groups and asked them to ask for an investigation.
While we had our campaign to gain the support of human rights organizations and activist groups we also organized on the streets. Central to the campaign was the sharing of our meals and literature twice every day to show we would not give up. Before each meal we determined who would be willing to risk arrest. We divided the food into three parts and two or three volunteers would share the first smaller portion until they were arrested.
As soon as they were hustled off to the police station a couple more volunteers would arrive and share some more food until they were arrested. After the police took them away we would bring out enough food to provide for everyone. The police rarely stopped us the third time. We also organized a campaign called "Risk Arrest One Day a Month with Food Not Bombs" and community groups, unions and religious organizations would share our food and go to jail.
The other strategy was to provide food outside the court house before each court appearance. This too could result in a number of arrests but it also had the impact of discrediting the legal system before people who themselves had been dragged into the system.
Our campaign was dedicated to nonviolent resistance even if at time people would yell at the police during the arrests. Amazingly our persistence slowly won over the rank and file police who started to object to their participation in efforts to stop us.
Our effort to reach President Clinton worked. His office claimed to have reviewed our information and video deciding that city officials were acting lawfully in there brutal campaign to shut down our protest. They would take no action to stop the violence. We shared copies of Clintons's letter to Amnesty International and the United Nations. This was the final straw and they both announce support for Food Not Bombs.
Amnesty International announced that they would declare our volunteers "Prisoners of Conscience" and work for our unconditional release if convicted and made a public statement of condemnation of the United States on the floor of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Switzerland.
Finally one day when my "Three Strikes" trial was about to start the local media turned on the mayor and city officials. The power structure cut their loses. The arrests in San Francisco did stop and I settled my case being sentenced to credit of 500 days served and a year probation. Maybe not a total victory but a lot better than doing 25 years in prison and the campaign helped encourage the start of Food Not Bombs groups in a few hundred cities.
The global wave of protests during the summer of 2013 provide many lessons. Social change takes time. The people of Egypt mobilized to drive out the dictator Mubarak only to replace his authoritarian rule with a new dictator. Just as happened after the Berlin Wall fell global financial institutions and Western governments rushed in to fill the power vacuum. Those risking their lives to bring about change were not prepared to replace the dictatorial system with one that represents the interests of the majority.
The increase in hunger and poverty in Egypt was predictable. Morsi quickly became an ally of the United States and other powerful nations agreeing to provide access to the global financial institutions and transnational corporate interests while
ignoring the needs of his people. It will take more than the ousting of a dictator to bring about the change required to provide food, healthcare and education. Those of us seeking to bring democracy and economic security to the United States must build an alternate system ready to replace the failing political and economic system.
The struggle of the Santa Cruz Eleven provides a good example of how we can address the growing austerity crisis. While waging an aggressive legal defense is important it may be a more effective defense to build a movement against the real criminals at Wells Fargo like Donald James, John Stumf and the other board members. The authorities were fearful of the occupations organizing a campaign to claim we did not have a coherent message and that we had failed.
However the details revealed in the internal FBI and Homeland Security documents recovered by The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, the criminal case against the Cleveland Five and the Dissent-or-Terror files obtained by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy show that the Obama administration and corporate leaders were worried that the occupations were a real threat to the economic and political system.
Wells Fargo's coordination with the FBI, Homeland Security and other financial institutions to silence Occupy is another aspect of the criminal conspiracy of the economic elite. Those responsible for destroying the economic security of millions remain free and continue to force families out of their homes, implement policies that criminalize those driven into poverty and clearly have no limits to their own crimes against society.
"SC-11 Back in Court: D.A. Bob Lee's BigTop Up for Fall Engagement?"
2013-08-27 by Robert Norse [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/08/27/18742198.php]:
Tentative Trial Date for the Final Four - it seems likely that the trial dates willl change due to attorney and witness scheduling conflicts. However, at the moment, trial readiness is slated for 9 AM on Sept. 12th 9 AM and jury selection due to begin 9 AM on September 16--all in Dept. 6.
correction by Brent Adams: In this article my attorney's name is reported incorrectly. Her name is Lisa McCamey. It is true that she and one other attorney are going through separate murder trials. Its true that Alexis Briggs' is pregnant and that affects the jury trial dates. Additionally we were told that at least 3 different police officer witnesses for the prosecution have schedule conflicts. Stay tuned, I've got to be in court in 6 hours. I should go to sleep.
MORE OF THE ENDLESS ORDEAL FOR THE SC-11 ACTIVISTS -
Attorneys for the Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven--peaceful political activists and journalists--will meet with Judge Paul Burdick and D.A. Bob Lee's appointed flunky to determine whether the 2-3 week long felony trials will begin in September as scheduled.
The four are charged with felony vandalism and trespass charges for peaceful protest against the real master of foreclosure fraud, Wells Fargo Bank, nearly 2 years ago, at a long-vacant bank building at 75 River St. None of the four are charged with actual vandalism, just being present to "enable" or "aid and abet" the vandalism. Essentially this was a series of charges to shut down Occupy Santa Cruz (which didn't actually organize the bank occupation).
JUDGE SOUGHT SETTLEMENT AT PRIOR HEARING -
At a prior status hearing on August 16 Judge Burdick reportedly pressed for a settlement of the cases before trial. (So far the only offers have been pleading to felonies, which the defendants have rejected).
One observer felt this was because Burdick thought a guilty verdict at trial was likely, and that the trial wasn't worth the expense This would seem particularly true, given the how poor the defendants are--two of them are homeless.
If the purpose was to reimburse Wells Fargo for damages done by others to its leased and still vacant building on River and Water Streets, to undergo a trial costing over $100,000 for damages that amount to less than $30,000 (using Wells Fargo's inflated estimates)
A second observer felt Burdick might be coming around to understand how political the how prosecution is, how time-wasting, and--perhaps--how questionable in terms of the justice involved. Both observers agreed that the new prosecutor--who has taken over for the discredited and sanctioned Rebekah Young-- is still hot for a trial.
On August 16, Burdick suggested that the defendants "prepare for restitution". Some of the dialogue between judge and attorneys reportedly concerned the fact that those really responsible for damage at the River St. building weren't in court (or even known to authorities).
DELAY OF SEPTEMBER TRIAL LIKELY -
None of the defendants has really made any strong appeal for supporters to attend, though I'm sure Brent Adams--probably the only defendant likely to attend--wouldn't mind.
Cameron's attorney, Alexis Briggs, is reportedly six months pregnant and some police witnesses will be unable to appear at the current trial date in September. This may push the trial back to February 2014. Brent's attorney, Jesse Rubin, is appearing before Burdick in a murder trial in September which would also make a delay likely.
The prosecutor now reportedly estimated the length of the trial to be 2-3 weeks. (Rebekah Young, when she was the D.A. on the case, before retiring to Texas, estimated a week or so, with Briggs suggesting that was far too optimistic.)
D.A. STILL TRYING TO DODGE BURDICK'S SANCTIONS -
Rebekah Young, whose misconduct resulted in a $500 fine to D.A. Bob Lee's office, took off in the spring for Texas. Lee has appealed the sanctions but none of the attorneys served were willing to spend the time to file papers defending the fines against the D.A.
A private legal worker may be preparing a brief (which was due on August 19th, but perhaps there's basis for an extension). I may be willing to file that brief if no one else will and if it looks like it can be done without costing more than it's worth.
So far D.A. Lee has put thousands of dollars of work time into appealing the $500 fine and filed a 49 page brief defending his incompetent D.A. (Young).
One of the SC-11 attorneys has frankly described Lee's brief as marred by "lies"---indeed the history of the contempt-ridden behavior of Lee's D.A. Young has been notorious. (See
Attached is Lee's attempt to overturn the $500 fine, which was absurdly mild considering the repeated nature of Young's misconduct by repeatedly violating court orders and withholding evidence from the defense.
Some wags have suggested a Panhandle-In or Blacktop Benefit for Lee in order to raise the $500 to spare the community the thousands of dollars Lee is spending on appealing Burdick's ruling.
2013-04-09 "Linda Lemaster Trial in the Media" note from Robert Norse:
Street Spirit, a Bay Area homeless monthly newspaper, published Alex Darocy's account of D.A. Bob Lee's Prosecution of homeless activist Linda Lemaster. Copies of the April 2013 Street Spirit in which this story appears can
be found at the main branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library (where
armed security guards now wake and evict homeless people for falling
asleep) or purchased from street vendors (Contact Raven at
email@example.com or look for her on Pacific Avenue with her massage
A longer account published earlier can be found at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/15/18730225.php]
Linda's blog is at [http://hearthbylinda.blogspot.com/] .
"Activist Linda Lemaster Convicted of Illegal Lodging"
by Alex Darocy from "Street Spirit" [http://www.thestreetspirit.org/activist-linda-lemaster-convicted-of-illegal-lodging/]:
Homeless advocate Linda Lemaster asked, “Is Santa Cruz County still under the Constitution that we think of as the lead legal document of our land, where people — even if they happen to be homeless — have certain civil rights, and even some human rights are acknowledged in our constitution?”
More than two years after originally being cited for illegal lodging on the morning of August 10, 2010, during the Peacecamp demonstrations held to protest the sleeping ban that criminalizes homelessness in Santa Cruz, Linda Lemaster’s trial began on Nov. 6, 2012. After three days of listening to testimony, a jury found her guilty of lodging during Peacecamp, and on Dec. 6, 2012, Lemaster was sentenced to community service and probation by Judge Rebecca Connolly.
In an interview conducted in the aftermath of her trial, Lemaster said she now believes that the police cited her for unlawful lodging in order to break up a political protest by utilizing a law-enforcement strategy that is anti-homeless and has “a homeland security agenda.”
“I don’t think that trial had much, if anything, to do with justice,” Lemaster said. “I think it was a political trial.”
“One of my goals is to get rid of this law,” Lemaster said, referring to the state law against unlawful lodging, California Penal Code 647(e). The law is mostly used as a move-along law for homeless people in San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Monica, according to Lemaster.
“The law seems to be used entirely against homeless people and demonstrators right now in California,” she said. “We haven’t been able to find another recent example of its use.”
She plans to appeal the conviction, saying, “The appeal is more of a chance to focus on the law, rather than me.”
Linda Lemaster had been a social and political advocate for the homeless and an activist in Santa Cruz County for more than 30 years when she was issued a citation for “unlawful lodging” during the Peacecamp demonstrations.
Originally held to protest the sleeping ban in the City of Santa Cruz (Municipal Code Section 6.36.010), which makes it illegal to sleep outside during the hours of 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. in the city, Peacecamp was initiated at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse by a group of local homelessness activists on July 4, 2010.
Community members gathered at the courthouse during the evenings and either slept or protested there to make a strong statement against the criminalization of homelessness locally. The action quickly grew and began to include a large number of homeless community members looking for a safe place to be at night.
Lemaster, founder of the organization Housing Now! in Santa Cruz, attended Peacecamp to make contact with both homeless people and other advocates.
“I use Housing Now! in Santa Cruz as a vessel to stay in touch with how homeless people feel about stuff,” she said.
“Sometimes I’m warning homeless people how to be discreet at night, or this is where the services are. It takes different forms, but because it is ongoing, I think of it as a medium to help me to know when, and how, we can do more. I feel like it is my job through Housing Now! in Santa Cruz to inform other people … to let people know, ‘Look, this isn’t right, you can’t even have a blanket.’”
At Peacecamp, she found the one-on-one contact with homeless people and advocates she was looking for. “I’ve gone to a lot of demonstrations,” Lemaster said. “That’s what is consistent — no matter where I have been, no matter whether it is a few people or it’s a hundred people — there are people who never get to express themselves.”
Eventually, she became part of a support network at the camp and attempted to stay up all night on the evening of August 9, 2010, trying to help a sick friend who wouldn’t leave the Peacecamp.
Over the course of that evening, her friend noticed it was sprinkling and covered Lemaster with a blanket. She lay down on the concrete outside of the courthouse, and may have fallen asleep. When deputies arrived early that morning as part of their enforcement campaign against Peacecamp, Lemaster fit their description of who to target for a lodging citation, and cited her at 4 a.m. that morning.
Later, according to the district attorney, this incident was one of the major pieces of evidence used in court to show that she was “unlawfully lodging.”
The definition of lodging that was used can be applied, according to the California penal code, to both public and private places, and in the case of Lemaster’s trial, was worded specifically as follows:
“To lodge means to occupy a place temporarily, or to permanently or temporarily settle or to live in a place. It may, but does not have to include, sleeping, the laying down of bedding, the storing of personal belongings, or carrying on cooking activities. Lodging means more than merely falling asleep, but less than moving in permanently.”
Lemaster felt that the process of arriving at the legal definition of lodging to be used in her trial was not fair. “To me it was very frustrating,” she said. She feels that the definition of lodging that deputies were using when they cited people at Peacecamp in 2010 was vastly different from the legal definition arrived at for the purposes of her trial in late 2012.
“Four days in a row,” she recalled, “the judge changed her mind out of hearing of the jury about what that would mean.”
Furthermore, whenever the district attorney came in and said he didn’t like part of the definition of illegal lodging they were working on, Lemaster said that the judge “accommodated him every time.”
Even after the trial had begun, the district attorney wanted to change the definition once again, she recalled. “How can you prepare on either side for your trial, if every day it’s a different meaning?” Lemaster asked.
Whether she fell asleep or not on the morning of August 10 at Peacecamp may not have been the primary reason the jury sided against her, according to two jurors who stayed to discuss their motivations after the verdict was read.“The jury foreman said that they all felt that the lodging law would have pertained to anyone once the policeman made his first warning to go, and so they had no choice but to find me guilty,” Lemaster said. She added, “the other guy, not the foreman, said, like two to three minutes passed and you were still there like you wanted to talk to him.”
Lemaster explained, “I tried to talk to him [the sheriff’s deputy] when they came around ticketing people, which is what made it look like I wasn’t going to leave to some jurors — that I stood while people scrambled, so I wasn’t afraid enough.”
She said the law seemed so vague and “soggy” as to be incomprehensible to ordinary people. “Not moving fast enough makes you lodging, and someone else who is scrambling for cover isn’t lodging,” she said, adding that the slippery, ever-changing definition of lodging “is another good reason that it should be exposed” and eliminated from the law books.
Lemaster said that the jury also apparently felt that using the lodging law was justified in breaking up a political protest. She also charged that the judge in her trial refused to treat Peacecamp as a nonviolent demonstration, but rather as a public safety issue.
“The inclination of Judge Rebecca Connolly was to not acknowledge the demonstration, but look at it as a public health and safety issue,” Lemaster said. “But, as my attorney, Johnathan Gettleman, pointed out, if it was a health and safety or public safety issue, there’s an appropriate department of the county government to deal with that, and they didn’t even think to call them.
“You just can’t have a law that is both landlord-tenant law, pushing-homeless-around law, a status crime, a public safety code, and whatever use you want to put it to…. It’s too broad in general.”
Ultimately, she said she was targeted for lodging because she didn’t leave the scene when deputies arrived. “Because I didn’t scurry in fear when the deputies walked up, I must be guilty of lodging.”
She sees the possibility of appealing her case as a method of challenging the state’s lodging law, but adds that Peacecamp’s original goal of challenging the sleeping ban of the City of Santa Cruz is still the main issue on her mind.
Over the course of the three decades Lemaster has been involved in homeless issues, she has done everything from feeding people through Food Not Bombs, to working for the county in various official capacities to help the homeless community. She has participated in a number of demonstrations, and has chaired governmental bodies concerning homelessness and violence against women. She also has first hand experience: Lemaster has been homeless herself.
She recalls an early success in her endeavors to help those without a fixed address, when she fought for the rights of homeless people to vote.
“Even though it had already been litigated, the county wasn’t letting them register to vote,” Lemaster said. “This was in the very late ‘70s or maybe 1980 and it took an attorney I was working for taking them to court.” The attorney successfully argued in court that even if homeless people were staying “on a heater grate on the sidewalk,” as long as they were willing to describe where that was, and apply to be a valid voter, they were entitled to vote.
Lemaster also helped motivate county officials to establish a location where welfare recipients in Watsonville could cash their checks. There was a time when those living in the southern part of Santa Cruz County would have to travel all the way to Santa Cruz to cash their benefits checks. After Lemaster paid a personal visit to county officials, a solution was found within two weeks.
The manner in which the authorities dealt with Peacecamp was different, Lemaster noticed. “What I think is most different now,” she said, “is there is a set of, I don’t know if they are beliefs, policies, or a driving philosophy, but it seems to me that there is a homeland security agenda that has changed how government responds to some situations.”
Lemaster said that more governmental agencies should have been involved in the decision-making process regarding Peacecamp, but none appeared to take an interest in getting involved.
“Now there were people (going) through Peacecamp, there was someone from the SPCA, someone who used to be a county social worker, people who in their own conscience, during the day mostly, came down and checked out who was there. But in the whole infrastructure of county government, nobody thought to do that.”
In their absence, Lemaster felt that law enforcement was left to deal with Peacecamp on their own, and they handled it as a complaint-driven process.
“They made this plan to wipe the whole thing out,” she said, “and give people like me a ticket based on the complaints they had, as it was shown in the testimony during my trial.”
Lemaster believes local authorities “were remiss” in dealing with the issues surrounding Peacecamp. “They didn’t even think of talking to social workers.”
She said, “All of these executive decisions were left more or less to Plageman [Lieutenant Fred Plageman of the sheriff’s department].” She pointed to Plageman’s testimony during her trial where he stated that he had looked to law enforcement models that were being employed outside of Santa Cruz County to enforce the lodging law, as opposed to looking to social workers within the county.
Lemaster faulted the police decision to “shut down what they knew was a First Amendment protest,” adding that it would have been more appropriate to have officials from the County Administrative Office and County Board of Supervisors setting policy regarding the demonstration.
Instead, deputies handed out fliers at Peacecamp warning participants that they were lodging illegally. Lemaster said, “I know they carefully put words in that warning saying we were guilty of lodging to make it sound like a demonstration doesn’t count at night, but that’s not true.”
Beyond the police-centered decision-making, Lemaster also said that deputies conducted law-enforcement activities in a manner influenced by a “homeland security” approach to dissent.
She said that the deputies’ approach to monitoring the protest shifted notably from a somewhat informal and easygoing interaction with camp dwellers, into a more repressive, law-and-order approach.
“They were like people one day,” Lemaster said, “and then when they decided they got their lodging law and decided on a campaign, they stayed in the role of this military, four-man team.”
She also felt that this “military” approach, as she put it, was expanded on when the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department used similar law-enforcement techniques during the period that Occupy Santa Cruz spent at the courthouse in 2011, which was during the height of the national Occupy movement.
“Because Peacecamp had happened, and up to that point they had gotten away with it, they seemed willing to feel a little more emboldened and capable of (utilizing) this homeland security-type approach at Occupy Santa Cruz,” she said.
An even deeper problem for Lemaster is anti-homeless bigotry, which she feels is “pervasive.” She said it also had something to do with law enforcement’s strategies for dealing with Peacecamp.
“I really believe the sheriff’s deputies would have had a more adequate strategy if they weren’t being reactionary, and I believe they were reacting to people in the County building complaining.”
Peacecamp was reportedly receiving sanitation-related complaints and complaints from County employees working in the building, who were coming into first-hand contact with the demonstration. Lemaster felt the complaints were really about homeless people themselves, and they weren’t fair.
“We don’t go around excoriating each other for smoking cigarettes,” she observed, “but we go around excoriating homeless people for leaving a butt behind, as if they had a choice. As long as they were looking at all the homeless people crashed there, and their friends, as ‘the other,’ they’re not really looking at the whole situation when they have to resolve a problem.
“Homeless people come from the same culture that we come from when we are not homeless, but they have to live in a culture that is much more immediate and much more dangerous. I expect more from law enforcement. When they are bringing extra people out, I think they need to study the problem beforehand.”
Even though Lemaster feels her ability to communicate directly with county officials has changed over the years, she said, “I consider them my allies still.”
“We used to go to the same workshops together,” she said about some of the county officials who had a say in the decision-making process regarding law enforcement strategies at Peacecamp.
“We used to be immediate allies. We used to be part of a team that would confront people. Because of the adversarial nature of the court, we are put like we are on two different sides of a team that is at war with each other, and that is the opposite of what I just tried to do for most of my time. It was frustrating.”
Even more frustrating for Lemaster was how she effectively became silenced during her trial, saying, “I was put out of my life. I was put out of my volunteer work, my relationship to my community, because I had to hold my tongue as far as anything in the county was concerned.”
While Lemaster felt that she was once able to visit in person any county official she wanted to communicate with, being on trial for lodging forced her to hold her tongue in many situations she once would have openly confronted, because her attorneys and the district attorney told her “it was bad form and could infect the legal case to come, if I talk with the other side before trial,” she said.
“I’ve been doing something for 40 years to help poor people, and one part of that is when I find something where the system doesn’t work, I try to show that to people, or even fix it, or help fix it, or find out who can fix it,” she said.
“So if it is people on GA [General Assistance] can’t get GA if they are not already in the system, that’s easy to fix. You just tell everyone, and then they’ll say, ‘OK,’ and it somehow trickles up to the Board of Supervisors eventually.”
“Real people suffered because I wasn’t able to be that liaison for them,” she said.
When defending her decision to not plead guilty, or take a plea deal, Lemaster was not only informed by her outlook as a Quaker, which guides her to never lie, but also by a need to maintain integrity in the community as an advocate for others.
“Doing the kind of changes that affect people in some way in their lives for the better requires a credibility,” she said.
Lemaster said she was offered a plea deal by the District Attorney’s office in 2011 which would have reduced her misdemeanor to an infraction if she would plead guilty to “disturbing the peace.”
“I wouldn’t have minded the infraction’s apparent purpose,” she said. “But I was being asked to say that I was disturbing the peace on Dec 10th at 4 a.m. or so. I mean, they wanted me to say either guilty or no contest. They were asking me to say an outright lie, expecting me to.
Pleading guilty would have felt to her like “totally denying Peacecamp 2010, my new friends from there, and what it had meant to me.” She said that it “felt like being pressed to lie.”
“I don’t think that trial had much, if anything, to do with seeking justice,” she said. “I think it was a political trial, and I feel strongly about that, more so than when I left the trial. I think the district attorney was given political marching orders when they picked him.
“In our country and in Santa Cruz County, is this a homeland security state where the government decides who is a terrorist, or who is a good citizen, or who is not even worthy of naming? Or is Santa Cruz County still under the Constitution that we think of as the lead legal document of our land, where people — even if they happen to be homeless — have certain civil rights, and even some human rights are acknowledged in our constitution, and even more clearly so in the state constitution.”
Lemaster said that she plans to continue raising awareness about the laws that outlaw sleep in Santa Cruz.
She also plans to file an appeal in her case to fight Judge Connolly’s claims that the lodging law is constitutional, and she also wants to begin a campaign that she hopes will achieve statewide participation of “homeless-friendly” groups and supporters to “take the lodging law 647(e) off the books.”
She calls her motivation a “simple and moral imperative,” because, “consequences are way too harsh for houseless and homeless folks. It has to get exposed.”
Lemaster has thought long and hard about why local government officials appear bent on persecuting homeless people and driving them out of public view.
“The legislature is under the same pressures that the court is, and the county is, and their deputies, to keep the homeless out of sight,” she said. “Because within the scheme of things, they don’t have the tools they need to solve the problem.
“So, under pressure from the citizenry at large, and whatever delusions some of them are carrying with them, the police just keep pushing them back, and criminalizing them, sweeping them. If you have to shove them in a van, or put them in jail overnight, at least that curb is clear.
“They are going to have to be a leader, in either a kind of demonic abuse of people, or solutions that are inclusive. One way or the other, just because of the cost of housing here, and not having the infrastructure that a city would have for people when they fall, or when they are hurt, or when they can’t get to the hospital.”
2012-04-05 "Attorneys for 4 of the Santa Cruz 11 go to Status & Sanctions Hearing Monday"
by Robert Norse [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/05/18734749.php]:
The persecution and prosecution of Gabriella Ripply-Phipps, Brent Adams, Angel Alcantara, and Cameron Laurendeau grinds on Monday 8 AM in Department 6 in Santa Cruz Superior Court. The status hearing will schedule pre-trial motions and the trial itself, now slated for early May, but likely to be postponed because of one of the attorneys has a conflict. Meanwhile attorneys for the four have appealed to a higher court for a Writ to stop the proceedings and throw out the cases in a challenge to Judge Volkman's dismissal of a 995 Motion last month that itself challenged the forwarding of felony vandalism charges against the 4 to trial. If the trial proceeds, it's expected to take 2 weeks.
These four defendants are the last of the Santa Cruz Eleven.
INCOMPETENT AND MENDACIOUS D.A. REBEKAH YOUNG--FIRED OR RESIGNED?
Several weeks ago, Bob Lee's District Attorney's office revealed that assistant D.A. Rebekah Young, who earned the dubious distinction of being the only D.A. in memory to be sanctioned by the court for misconduct in repeatedly failing to turn over police video and records to attorneys for the eleven defendants. Rumor had it that Young was headed for Texas to resume her career as a reporter in Austin or Dallas.
Some wondered why such a young and inexperienced lawyer was assigned to face eleven attorneys in court in such a high-profile case Considering defendants--if found guilty and given the maximum--could have faced seven years in prison--each. Defendants and their allies expressed both a sense of vindication that Young was gone from the department and apprehension that a more experienced team was likely to be taking over the prosecution.
EVEN TOKEN SANCTION IMPOSITION STALLED BY COLLUSIVE JUDICIARY?
The unprecedented $500 "slap on the wrist" fine leveled against the prosecution for misconduct had neither been paid nor formally appealed after the 60 day period ran out in March. The D.A.'s Office (or Young herself) reportedly asked the Court whether the fine was against her personally or the office of D.A. Bob Lee. No answer was forthcoming, and the time to appeal the sanction ran out after that 60 day period expired.
Scuttlebutt around the Superior Court Clerk's office had it that the issue might come up at this April 8th hearing. The actual costs to at least two of the attorneys involved ran into the tens of thousands of dollars for the dozen or so hearings and multiple motions and ignored discovery demands. These were disallowed by Judge Burdick in his token fine of Young. He also refused to dismiss the cases as a sanction for the abusive prosecution that has repeatedly concealed or failed to present evidence demanded by the defense (and ordered by the Burdick himself).
NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE WITCH HUNTERS, NO VINDICATION FOR THE VICTIMS.
In spite of the fact that seven of the defendants after months of ordeal had their cases dismissed for lack of evidence, though none have yet demanded a factual innocence hearing (which reportedly is nearly impossible to win).
None have filed complaints of misconduct and malfeasance with the Bar Association and/or the Commission on Judicial Performance for the political prosecution and failure to turn over documents in repeated contempt of court orders to do so.
CASES DISMISSED BUT THE CARNIVAL OF CRUELTY CONTINUES:
The Final Four defendants face a possible four year sentence and a "restitution fine" to Wells Fargo Bank of $23,000 or more. There has been no evidence presented in the many hours of hearings that any of the four destroyed or vandalized any property. Rather the tangled theory of the discredited Young was that the mere presence of the four in the building was sufficient evidence of their vandalism under an "aiding and abetting" theory.
FANCIFUL VANDALISM CHARGE
Critics pointed out that though Young had presented some evidence that some were in the building (though no clear evidence that they had refused to leave after being warned), there was no testimony that they "aided and abetted" the trespass action--a requirement for the finding that they were also responsible for the "probable consequence" of felony vandalism by parties unknown.
CRIME OR CLARION CALL TO THE COMMUNITY?
The "trespass" is described by others as a First Amendment activity shared by hundreds as well as a form of direct action whistle-blowing against the acknowledged criminal bankster Wells Fargo, who leased the vacant building for the last 3 1/2 years prior to the occupation and continue to lease the vacant structure.
That building like other vacant banks downtown has become a squat refuge for some of the more desperate or audacious of the city's homeless population. Santa Cruz has legal shelter for less than 5% of its homeless population two-thirds of the year and a perpetual waiting list. One of the stated objectives of those who actively occupied the building and announced their intentions (none of whom are on trial) was to create a Community Center that might also serve to shelter those in need.
GRIM HISTORY IN DETAIL
* For recent history of the case, see "Four Individuals to Stand Trial for 75 River Street Bank Occupation" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/12/18733496.php] .
* For more of the legal documents involved, see "Santa Cruz Eleven--The Final Four Demand Dismissal of Charges" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/07/18733298.php]
* For a transcript of the March 11th Hearing which sent the cases forward to trial and the legal papers challenging that misuse of legal power see below.
* For a broader perspective of the occupation and subsequent legal history see [http://www.thestreetspirit.org/the-santa-cruz-eleven-are-political-scapegoats/] .
A benefit for Food not Bombs August 14th at India Joze 3:30 - 6 PM will also feature speakers from this case.
To view the appeal briefs and transcript of the March 11th Hearing go to
Two Years for Sleeping on a Courthouse Bench? The Appeal [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/20/18733930.php]:
Thursday March 21, 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Location Details: 701 Ocean St. Dept. Dept. 5
"Ground Zero" Gary Johnson, sentenced to two years by Judge GrimGavel Gallagher, last year, was "guilty" of four counts of sleeping on the bench in front of the courthouse with a sign "Sleep is Not a Crime".
He was protesting the 6 PM to 6 AM curfew unilaterally imposed by Susan Mauriello to kill the Occupy Santa Cruz demonstrations.
Gary's blog is [http://peacecamp2010insider.blogspot.com] where you can find links to attorney Ed Frey's brief on the case.
A three judge panel is expected to rubberstamp Gallagher's decision, however members of the public are welcome to come and be witnesses to this travesty.
As a tangential but not entirely irrelevant sidenote, the incompetent and relentless prosecutor of the Santa Cruz Eleven, Rebekah Young has left the D.A.'s office as of last Friday and reportedly is going to work as a reporter in Texas. Apparently exposing abuses may have an impact. [http://www.fullspectrumdemocracy.org]
2013-03-11 "Judge Timothy Volkmann denies dismissal for 'final four' in River Street bank occupation"
by Cathy Kelly from "Santa Cruz Sentinel" [http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22767426/judge-timothy-volkmann-denies-dismissal-final-four-river]:
SANTA CRUZ -- In a courtroom full of activists, Judge Timothy Volkmann on Monday denied a motion to dismiss trespassing and vandalism charges against four remaining defendants accused of the takeover of a former Wells Fargo Bank building on River Street.
Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, Franklin Alcantara, Cameron Laurendau and Brent Adams are among 11 people originally charged with trespassing, vandalism and felony conspiracy for a high-profile occupation of a vacant former bank on Nov. 30, 2011.
Summarizing the 350-page preliminary hearing transcript, Volkmann described Ripley-Phipps as the group spokesperson and said the other three were seen inside the building at least twice. He then noted "it appears the major tussle centers on the felony vandalism charge" and whether that was a "natural consequence of the (misdemeanor) trespass (charge)."
Volkmann said his colleague, Judge Paul Burdick -- who presided over the preliminary hearing -- found that the vandalism was a natural and probable cause of the trespass due to the size and emotionally charged nature of the crowd, the stacking of furniture against the doors and other barricading behavior, the length of time they stayed inside, and other factors.
As prosecutor Rebekah Young put it, "They were in there for the long haul."
The defense challenged Young's theory that the four are guilty as aiders and abetters. In other words, that if they entered the bank with the crowd, and if the damage to the building was a "natural and probable" result of that entering, they are guilty of vandalism even without direct evidence of their part in the destruction of property.
Volkmann listened to Santa Cruz defense attorneys Lisa McCamey, Jesse Ruben, Bryan Hackett and Alexis Briggs argue that there is little or no direct evidence of who damaged the bank. They also argued the vandalism charge could not hold under the aiding and abetting theory without more proof of the circumstances surrounding the entering of the building.
"There is no evidence they agreed to trespass," McCamey said. "Their mere presence is not enough for this theory."
Volkmann ruled against them, noting there is a lower standard of proof the District Attorneys' Office must meet at the preliminary hearing stage. He said the defense attorneys' arguments "may be applicable" at trial.
Trial is set for May 13, but Ruben said he anticipates a conflict due to a homicide trial he is taking part in.
The group is due back in court April 8 for a status hearing.
A group of supporters and activists came to court for the afternoon hearing, as they have several times, with flyers urging "Drop the Charges! Santa Cruz Eleven: The Final Four."
The case began after people swarmed into the former bank after an Occupy Santa Cruz march, causing damage now estimated at about $25,000 and sparking a tense situation with police. Three days later, the group walked away.
The four remaining defendants are out of custody.
Earlier, Burdick dismissed charges against seven people due to insufficient evidence. He also dismissed a conspiracy charge the group had faced and fined the District Attorney's Office $500 for failing to provide evidence to defense attorneys.
Santa Cruz Eleven--The Final Four Demand Dismissal of Charges Monday March 11
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Location Details: 701 Ocean St. County Courthouse Dept. 3
Fighting Back Against D.A. Bob Lee's Attack on Occupy Santa Cruz activists. They are falsely charged with vandalism for a peaceful protest in the now 5-years vacant Wells Fargo-leased bank building at 75 River St.
Most recent stories:
* What Your $100,000+ is paying for: Transcript of the Santa Cruz 11 Preliminary Hearing 1-7 [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/06/18731489.php]
* Laurendeau Arraigned Yet Again As D.A.'s Merry-Go-Round Twirls On [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/31/18731105.php?show_comments=1#18731256]
* Another Ridiculous Round of Arraignments [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/23/18730704.php]
Message by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom)
[831-423-4833] [http://www.huffsantacruz.org] [309 Cedar PMB #1B S.C.
DROP THE CHARGES !
Santa Cruz Eleven: The Final Four
Monday, March 11th 1:30 PM Department 3
Motion to Dismiss All Charges
Gabriella Ripply-Phipps, Brent Adams, Cameron Laurendau, & Angel Alcantara face concocted charges of felony vandalism & misdemeanor trespass in the discredited SC-11 case. Scores of people protested the fraudulent foreclosure actions of Wells Fargo Bank by peacefully occupying the now 5-years vacant Wells Fargo-leased bank building at 75 River St. for 3 ½ days in late 2011. Unable to negotiate a community center there, the protesters left without citation or arrest. 2 ½ months later, SCPD and D.A. Bob Lee targeted eleven community activists with false felony charges for trespass and vandalism in the building, as part of a crackdown on the Occupy Movement.
What followed was 13 months of harassment and tens of thousands of dollars of public expense in endless court hearings. Several of the 11 lost their jobs; one attempted suicide, and one has her housing ripped from under her.
D.A. Lee's prosecuting attorney Rebekah Young repeatedly withheld evidence & refused to obey court orders. In an unusual and unprecedented sanction, Judge Paul Burdick fined her $500. In an exchange caught on video at http://occupysantacruz.org/2012/07/19/santa-cruz-da-befriends-the-usual-suspects/ , Lee publicly told his victims “if you will pay [Wells Fargo] $23,000, it would be a different ball game”. Apparently acting as the bank's bill collector, Lee wants inpoverished and innocent defendants to pay for the inflated clean-up costs at the still-vacant structure. There was some graffiti and some damaged furniture done by parties unknown. SCPD took no action to pinpoint actual vandals, instead using the protest as an opportunity to frame well-known long-time police critics & media at the protest.
No evidence links any of the four with any vandalism. They face a possible four years in prison if convicted under a tortured “if they were there, they aided and abetted” theory. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo continues to destroy families, confiscate homes, and pass on obscene bonuses to its top brass.
Charges against Occupy activists have been dropped in many cities including Chicago, Occupy Nashville, Occupy Oakland (the Ice Cream 3), Occupy Phoenix, Occupy Santa Rosa, Salt Lake City, Boston, Minneapolis, Albany, St. Paul, New York, Dallas, Erie, Charleston, Raleigh, and D.C. Santa Cruz authoritieed still ignore bankster crimes and ignore human rights for homeless people.
Support Activists Under Attack in Santa Cruz!
Drop the Charges: End the Witchhunt!
Sign the petition at [http://www.santacruzeleven.org]
The opinions on this message are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the SC-11.
"Motion to Dismiss in the Case of Gabriella Ripley-Phipps" [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/07/gabriella_ripleyphipps_995_motion.pdf]:
The motion is also publicly viewable at the County Building at the Clerk's Office. Attorneys for Brent Adams and Cameron Laurendau filed separate motions. The attorney for Angel Alcantara joined in the motions, but didn't bother to write one of his own.
"Response to the District Attorney's Motion Contesting the Motion to Dismiss" [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/07/gabriella_ripleyphipps_995_response.pdf]:
D.A. Rebekah Young filed a motion I have not yet been able to secure a copy of. Her motion responded to Hackett's initial 995 motion to dismiss all charges against Gabriella. The brief above is Hackett's response to Young's motion.
"Rebekah Young's Response to the Three 995 Motions" [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/08/995_response_by_rebekah_young.pdf]:
Why the mendacious, incompetent, and contemptuous assistant D.A. Rebekah Young should be allowed to continue on this case is the real question that needs answering. Just as Wells Fargo is the real criminal that needs prosecuting.
I've only had a brief look at the motions. Still...
Young misrepresents the testimony describing Gabriella as a "leader" and "spokesperson".
Actually, since there was no evidence presented that Gabriella was in the building at all, she can't be guilty of trespass. And if that's not true, she can't be guilty of "aiding and abetting vandalism". It's quite a stretch to claim that vandalism is a foreseeable, probable, and/or necessary consequence of trespass.
In fact, Young substitutes the word "possible consequence" in her argument--which, may misstate the law.
In point of fact didn't the testimony show that Gabriella was an intermediary who, at the request of the SCPD, facilitated a peaceful exit from the building?
For those who want to pore over the actual transcript of the Preliminary Hearing, go to "What Your $100,000+ is paying for: Transcript of the Santa Cruz 11 Preliminary Hearing 1-7" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/06/18731489.php].
"Attorney Alexis Briggs Dismissal (995) Motion for Cameron Laurendeau" [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/09/cameron_laurendeau_995_motion.pdf]:
Alexis Briggs, who arguably was the most high-profile in challenging the bogus Young/Lee prosecution as well as filing the most motions, supplied most of the motions for this story (which are public documents).
"Response to Rebekah Young's Defense of Her Persecution/Prosecution" [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/09/cameron_laurendeau_995_reply_to_young.pdf]:
Rebekah Young's Motion was the same for all four defendants and can be found in the main story above. This is Briggs's response on behalf of Cameron Laurendeau.
995 Motion to Dismiss for Brent Adams [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/09/adams_995_motion.pdf]:
Lisa McCamey, court-appointed attorney for Brent Adams, filed this Motion to Dismiss.
"Response in Reply to Rebekah Young's Motion for Brent Adams" [http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2013/03/09/adams_response.pdf]:
Only 3 of the 4 attorneys filed 995 Motions. Attorney Jesse Rubin, who has had little communication with his client out of court, declined to do so, other than joining in with the arguments of the three other attorneys. Rubin argues vigorously in court, but apparently doesn't have much use for input or dialogue with his clients outside of court. Or such is my impression. Angel might disagree.
"Transcript of the Preliminary Hearing On-Line in Prior Indymedia Posting":
To follow the references in the defense and prosecution documents, go to "What Your $100,000+ is paying for: Transcript of the Santa Cruz 11 Preliminary Hearing 1-7" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/02/06/18731489.php].
The Sentinel's typical coverage of the 995 hearing, which resulted in the rubberstamping of all of the charges against the 4 defendants, can be found at [http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22767426/judge-timothy-volkmann-denies-dismissal-final-four-river?source=rss].
Last of Santa Cruz Eleven Goes to Arraignment
Friday, February 01, 8:15 AM - 8:45 AM
701 Ocean St. County Courthouse Department 6 (though the calendar may then be moved to another courtroom).
Cameron Laurendeau, one of four defendants against whom reckless and false prosecution is still proceeding, from the original Santa Cruz Eleven, goes to another arraignment in Judge Burdick's court.
Seven of the Santa Cruz Eleven have already had all charges dismissed against them. Cameron and three others still face a possible four years in prison for a peaceful protest involving the occupation of a vacant bank building leased by Wells Fargo Bank, and owned by Barry Swenson.
Cameron's lawyer, Alexis Briggs, has been the most active defense counsel of the group, pressing successful (if small) sanctions against prosecution D.A. Rebekah Young for violating court orders to turn over evidence.
For more background go to "Another Ridiculous Round of Arraignments" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/23/18730704.php].
Even though this is simply another in a series of unending and fruitless court dates, supporters are encouraged to attend in solidarity.
2013-01-02 "Laurendeau Arraigned Yet Again As D.A.'s Merry-Go-Round Twirls On" by Robert Norse:
Visiting Judge Sillman presided in Courtroom 6 as the last of the SC-11 defendants Cameron Laurendeau pleaded not guilty to felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespass in the Now-entering-its-second-year Crush-the-Occupy-Movement sideshow orchestrated (rather badly) by D.A. Bob Lee and his fumbling deputy Rebekah Young.
Laurendeau's attorney Alex Briggs advised the court they would be filing a 995 Motion (Motion to Dismiss) slated for a hearing March 11 1:30 PM in Department 6. A similar motion resulted in the dismissal of charges against Alex Darocy and Bradley Stuart last year. Charges were initially dismissed against Laurendeau and Angel Alcantara at a earlier Preliminary Hearing, but Young insisted on refiling them. I went into some of the details in "Another Ridiculous Round of Arraignments" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/01/23/18730704.php/].
I hope to post Brigg's motion some days before the hearing. I'll be playing an interview with Briggs on Sunday February 2 at 11 AM at 101.3 FM (or [http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/]).
Young suggested the trial of Laurendeau and three others would take a week; Briggs suggested it would take several. Previously Young had suggested the Preliminary Hearing would take hours--when it ended up taking several days in all cases.
Trial readiness will be 9 AM on May 9th; jury trial to begin on May 13th for Laurendeau, Alcantara, Ripplyphipps, and Adams. Unless the D.A. responds to public pressure (or private wisdom) and drops the charges.
I have a copy of the last Preliminary Hearing--on the basis of which, Laurendeau and the three others were forwarded for further court and D.A. harassment if anyone wants to see it. Perhaps I'll post a hard copy in the Public Library (it's about 250 pages). The same Preliminary Hearing resulted in myself, Becky Johnson, and Desiree Foster having all charges dismissed.
It's not clear if or to whom the D.A.'s office will appeal the unusual (and token) finding that Young violated court orders in denying 11 defendants important evidence. If they do appeal, as Lee has said he will in the Sentinel, then he and Judge Burdick may fight it out in some higher court (though we're talking about the slightest slap on the wrist here).
We are all of course innocent of an violent or arguably any illegal behavior, as I've detailed in past posts. See [http://www.santacruzeleven.org] for the thoughts of others. For my analysis simply search on this website for "Norse".
2013-02-03 "DA Bob Lee's witch hunt meant to cow prospective activists" by John E. Colby:
DA Bob Lee's witch hunt against the Santa Cruz Eleven is meant to cow potential activists — fired up by the success of the Occupy movement — from performing mass acts of civil disobedience. DA Bob Lee sent a message that anyone who performs acts of civil disobedience will be charged will felonies and dragged (even w/o evidence) through the courts.
It's a rather crude way of stifling dissent. That's why it is so important that the Santa Cruz Eleven fight back to hold DA Bob Lee and his prosecutor Rebekah Young accountable for abusing their positions of authority under color of law to deprive the Santa Cruz Eleven of rights guaranteed by the Constitution and U.S. law.
DA Bob Lee is practicing a crude kind of social control in case anyone in Santa Cruz considers organizing mass civil disobedience against entrenched authority.
"Santa Cruz 11" update from G. Walkabouting:
To clarify; the SantaCruzEleven (now four?) were closer to OccupySantaCruz (2011) than PeaceCamp2010, although there were some people common to all three situations (especially Becky & Robert):
* Linda continues to struggle against 647(e), PeaceCamp2010 [http://hearthbylinda.blogspot.com/].
* As does Ed Frey (the lawyer and former 'cellie'), PeaceCamp2010 [http://www.fullspectrumdemocracy.org/p/peacecamp2010.html].
* And me, PeaceCamp2010 (2011 and 2012 too, although that was a 602 thing, until trial) [http://peacecamp2010insider.blogspot.com/] [https://twitter.com/PeaceCamp2010in].
My understanding is that Ed, and eventually Linda's lawyer (as well as the remaining SantaCruzEleven lawyers), could use some help locating amicus brief writers. After the appellate process hits a dead end (as it has for Ed and I, for the PeaceCamp2010 persecution), a writ of habeas corpus seems to be the last hope, for anyone seeking traditional redress.
The main takeaway from the experience, for me, is that District Attorney is possibly the most important vote one can cast locally, if one can vote locally via an honest election process.
"Santa Cruz 11" update from Steven Argue:
Santa Cruz courts are currently persecuting people who were part of a
three day occupation of an abandoned Wells Fargo Bank in 2011. The
abandoned building was seen as having potential use as a community
center and shelter for people without housing. Each activist is facing
two felony charges and two misdemeanor charges and could be sentenced to
up to seven years in prison if found guilty. These activists have
become known as the Santa Cruz 11 due to the original number of
The Santa Cruz 11 are being prosecuted for a peaceful
occupation that included a policy, posted to the wall, of carrying out
no vandalism. Yet, protesters have been charged with “felony vandalism”,
“conspiracy to vandalize and trespass” (another felony), and two types
of trespassing misdemeanors. These charges are not backed by actual
evidence. None of the Santa Cruz 11 were arrested on the scene and six
of the 11 who were charged are high profile journalists who have been
critical of the Santa Cruz Police Department and/or Santa Cruz City
Council. Not targeted for police repression were individuals present who
are more friendly to the status quo, like former Santa Cruz Mayor
2013-01-22 UPDATE: "This morning 3 of 4 remaining SC11 defendants were in court for our scheduled arraignment. .... Jury trail is scheduled for May 13. I'm grateful for your continued support." -Brent Adams
2013-01-09 "Police, D.A.'s Office Respond To Charges Dropped For 3 Bank Protesters" by Jacqueline Tualla from "46 KION-CBS"
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- A Santa Cruz judge drops charges for three of seven protesters accused of taking over an empty bank building in 2011. On Wednesday, law enforcement expressed its concern with the decision.
"It's an absolutely ridiculous, legal decision," said Steve Clark, deputy chief for the Santa Cruz Police Department.
Deputy Chief Clark said the court opened the door for other people who think they can get away with breaking the law.
"Essentially what the court has done is given approval for this kind of behavior and said it's ok to go in and violate somebody's property rights to this degree and we won't hold you accountable," he said.
Police said what the outcome means is they can't handle similar situations in a way that they said is most appropriate, so they might have to get more aggressive in the future.
On Tuesday, the judge decided prosecutors didn't have enough evidence on the three protesters.
"The trespass laws are really, oddly specific, and they require a sequence of events to occur and I couldn't show that they occurred for three out of the seven defendants. I can't say that he was acting arbitralily. I can't," said Rebekah Young, assistant district attorney for the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office.
Young said there were technical issues with formatting the video used as evidence in the case, in addition to audio issues. She said for that, the judge fined the D.A.'s Office $500.
Still, she said while she feels the judge did everything he could, the protesters shouldn't have been able to walk.
"He followed the letter of the law, but unfortunately those laws are overly convoluted and out of date," she said.
"How the court can look at property owners with a straight face and make them believe in any way that they're going to protect their interests astounds me," he said.
The D.A.'s Office said it plans to appeal the fine.
2012-09 "Linda Lemaster Convicted for Resting at Human Rights Protest for the Homeless, Sentencing December Third" update from Steve Argue of "Liberation News (RT-SP)": Linda Lemaster, disabled, cannot sit for long periods of time, so she laid down at a 2010 protest against the anti-homeless laws that make it illegal for homeless people to sit, lie-down, or sleep in the city of Santa Cruz.
On November ninth she was convicted for this "crime" and now faces up to six months in jail under the California "anti-lodging" law.
Her sentencing will be on December third. Linda is the third person now convicted for participating in that 2010 protest.
Gary Johnson and Ed Frey have been convicted for sleeping at that same protest under the same law that Linda is being persecuted.
Gary Johnson began a six month sentence on August 27, 2012 at the Santa Cruz County jail and Ed Frey was put under house arrest for six months on August 8, 2012.
Along with the need for a revolution, a strong protest is needed for Linda on October third.
For more on these cases see:
* USA: Human Rights Activist Ordered to Six Months of Jail, More Repression Scheduled [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/07/29/18718520.php]
* Some History of Blatant Political Repression in Santa Cruz, California [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/08/05/18718924.php]
Post-sentencing observations from Steve Argue:
sentenced to community service and probation for violating the
anti-homeless law against sleep. She did so at a protest that was
bringing attention to just these kinds of anti-homeless laws.
were a bit softer on her than others arrested at the protest for the
same "crime". Gary Johnson got jail time and Ed Frey was sentenced to
2012-07-29 "Human Rights Activist Ordered to Six Months of Jail, More
Repression Scheduled in Santa Cruz, California"
by Steven Argue from
"Liberation News" newswire, cross-post "IndyBay.org" newswire
article is edited, and can be seen in it's complete form at the link
cited. This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free: [https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news]
Update on Santa Cruz Repression: Matt speaks with Steven Argue, writer
and editor at Liberation News, about the case of Ed Frey, lawyer and
human rights activist sentenced to six months in jail for protesting
homelessness. 3PM pacific/6PM eastern, Friday, August 10th. The live
stream and the archived interview will be linked here: [http://www.blogtalkradio.com/shared_sacrifice/2012/08/10/political-context-steven-argue-discusses-ed-frey].
Also, read up on "Some History of Blatant Political Repression in Santa Cruz, California" by Steven Argue
case of Ed Frey is reminiscent of an earlier Santa Cruz case where
Sandy Loranger did time in jail for feeding the homeless soup. When the
judge offered her counseling instead of jail Sandy Loranger replied, "If
feeding my fellow man is a crime, I am beyond rehabilitation."
Credit, by Bradley Stuart from Indybay. Human rights activist, Ed Frey,
speaking, has been ordered to six months in jail starting August
August 24th Judge Moody ordered human rights activist and attorney, Ed
Frey, to begin a six month sentence, ordering him to check in for jail
at 9:00 AM on August 8th, 2012.
Ed Frey was arrested in 2010 for
protesting on the Santa Cruz County Courthouse steps. He was opposing
Santa Cruz laws that make it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night.
Ed Frey’s only act of civil disobedience was sleeping outside in
solidarity with the homeless. In Santa Cruz, the human rights of the
poor to even survive are routinely violated on the most basic levels.
Sleep at night and covering-up with blankets are both illegal in Santa
Cruz for people outside or in a vehicle. Ed Frey was arrested protesting
these laws at a three month protest that was called “Peace Camp 2010”.
That protest initially started in response to a 63 year-old homeless
minister, Robert Facer, being ticketed for sleeping on the beach on a
night when all of the homeless shelters were full. Peace Camp 2010
initially attracted many homeless people and other activists, but it was
eventually shut down through police repression.
still facing abuse stemming from that 2010 protest include Gary Johnson
and Linda Lemaster. Gary Johnson, like Ed Frey, has also already been
sentenced to six months in jail. On August 24th Gary Johnson will be
subjected to a hearing similar to Ed Frey’s most recent one. At that
time, Gary could also be ordered to begin his six month sentence.
Activist Linda Lemaster is scheduled for jury trial on October 14th for
sleeping at Peace Camp 2010 as well.
In addition to prosecuting
protesters for sleep “crimes”, the Santa Cruz courts are currently
persecuting nine protesters who were part of a three day occupation of
an abandoned Wells Fargo Bank in 2011. The abandoned building was seen
as having potential use as a community center and shelter for people
without housing. Each activist is facing two felony charges and two
misdemeanor charges and could be sentenced to up to seven years in
prison if found guilty. These activists have become known as the Santa
Cruz 11 due to the original number of defendants. Nine are still being
The Santa Cruz 11 are being prosecuted for a
peaceful occupation that included a policy, posted to the wall, of
carrying out no vandalism. Yet, protesters have been charged with
“felony vandalism”, “conspiracy to vandalize and trespass” (another
felony), and two types of trespassing misdemeanors. These charges are
not backed by actual evidence. None of the Santa Cruz 11 were arrested
on the scene and six of the 11 who were charged are high profile
journalists who have been critical of the Santa Cruz Police Department
and/or Santa Cruz City Council. Not targeted for police repression were
individuals present who are more friendly to the status quo, like former
Santa Cruz Mayor Katherine Beiers.
On August 20th, seven of the
Santa Cruz 11, Cameron Laurendau, Robert Norse, Becky Johnson,
Gabriella Ripplyphipps, Brent Adams, and Franklin Alcantara will be
appearing in the court of Judge Burdick for their so-called “crimes”. As
opposed to this kind of repression being carried out by the local
liberal capitalist government of Santa Cruz, the Revolutionary Tendency
of the Socialist Party demands the charges against the Santa Cruz 11 be
dropped. Instead of seeing the occupation of a bank as a crime, we call
for the nationalization of all banks without compensation. And we call
for the proletarian seizure of all unused buildings under the control of
the banks to provide shelter and housing for those who need it.
Meanwhile, the local Democrat Party, which controls the Santa Cruz City
Council, sends out their cops to carry out repression against people in
the community demanding justice.
Likewise, the liberal
government of Santa Cruz sends out its cops to harass the homeless.
Numerous laws on the books are there specifically to target the
homeless. This includes MC 6.36.010, a law that makes the acts of
sleeping or covering up with a blanket punishable by $100 to $200 fines.
For the homeless this is often unpayable. Democrat Mayor Don Lane
recently passed another law that makes ignoring three sleeping tickets a
misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. And a
third Santa Cruz City law now also makes any third infraction (of any
kind) an automatic misdemeanor as well.
During Peace Camp 2010,
however, the Sheriff’s department and Santa Cruz DA chose to arrest and
prosecute Peace Camp 2010 activists under a much harsher California
state law. The law they used was the so-called “Unlawful-Lodging Law”
647e. At the time of their arrest, those found guilty of violations 647e
could be punished by up to six months in jail. Since that time,
however, the Democrat controlled State legislature doubled the penalty.
The reality in courts has now been laid bare, that under this law the
act of sleeping, either by people who are homeless or people protesting
in solidarity with the homeless, is punishable by up to a year in jail.
Since the arrests at Peace Camp 2010 this same so-called
“Unlawful-Lodging Law” 647e was also used to attack Occupy Santa Cruz
and a number of Occupy activists did face 647e charges.
Johnson and Ed Frey were convicted of sleeping in 2011 and sentenced to
six months in jail. Their convictions were secured in the court room of
the notoriously pro-police and anti-homeless Judge Gallagher, nicknamed
“Grim Gavel” Gallagher. Revealing the political nature of the draconian
sentences, Judge Gallagher told homeless activist Gary Johnson he “could
get some sleep in jail”.
In June, 2011, with the courts facing a
public outcry after two weeks in jail, Ed Frey was released on bail
pending appeal with his bail of $50,000 dollars (for sleeping) reduced
to $110. Supporters quickly passed the hat and Ed Frey was released from
jail on bail. Gary Johnson was similarly released the next week. Those
six month sentences, however, have continued to hang over the heads of
Ed Frey and Gary Johnson and now the oppressive capitalist state is
demanding Ed Frey do the time, starting August 8th.
protester charged at that time, Eliot Anderson, was freed by a hung jury
that failed to convict him. A juror said of the case, “Anderson should
not have to gas his dog to try to get into a shelter to legally sleep.”
the trial of Gary Johnson and Ed Frey many potential jurors were upset
by the fact that they were to sit through a two week trial for the
“crime” of sleep. One example was an elementary school teacher who said,
"When I first came to Santa Cruz, I lived in my van for three years.
During that time, I was hassled, arrested, and jailed. There is no way I
could be impartial in this case considering the pain these people are
suffering." A number of potential jurors said similar things, but of
course they never made it onto the jury. People who are aware of what is
going on generally don’t make it onto juries in the United States. Such
dumbed-down juries do as they’re told, as this one did, in a typical
manner when they were told they weren’t allowed to have their own
opinions. In the oft repeated mantra of blind stupidity and injustice in
America’s capitalist courts, Judge Gallagher told the jury, "Even if
you disagree with the law, you must follow the law."
protesters were convicted under 647e for sleeping at the protest. Two
did not show up for the absurdity of sentencing and warrants were
issued. Ed Frey and Gary Johnson were offered 400 hours of Community
Service and 3 years probation for sleeping. In response, Gary Johnson
who is homeless, asked, "How can I take probation to obey all laws, when
you've defined "sleeping" as lodging to the jury, making it a
misdemeanor crime? How can I not sleep for six months during probation?"
Judge Gallagher told him “he could get some sleep in jail.” On basic
principle and inability to comply, both Gary Johnson and Attorney Ed
Frey turned down probation and were then sentenced to six months in
This was reminiscent of an earlier Santa Cruz case where
Sandy Loranger did time in jail for feeding the homeless soup. When the
judge offered her counseling instead of jail Sandy Loranger replied, "If
feeding my fellow man is a crime, I am beyond rehabilitation."
Camp 2010 was simply an act of free speech. It was a peaceful protest
with the only act of civil disobedience being the illegal act of
sleeping outside. Protest facilities included a port-o-potty provided by
Attorney Ed Frey. This helped provide the homeless with a safe place to
sleep for months, despite the city government’s failure to provide such
needed relief for its citizens.
In addition to Gary Johnson’s
six month sentence, Gary Johnson has now also been convicted of
additional counts of sleeping since that protest. This is for sleeping
last winter outside of the Santa Cruz courthouse with a sign that read
“Sleep is Not a Crime”. On those additional counts of sleeping, Judge
Gallagher sentenced Gary Johnson to 2 years in prison on a suspended
sentence, which means the sentence could be carried out if Gary Johnson
is later harassed by police and found guilty of additional “crimes”.
“Unlawful-Lodging Law” 647e for which Gary Johnson and Ed Frey were
arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced was also recently used in
Santa Barbara. This was in August 2010 when the Santa Barbara Police
ticketed Courtney Caswell-Peyton, a Santa Barbara disabled woman who
fell asleep in her wheel chair. She showed-up for court worried about
the possibility of getting her first conviction for any crime. Facing
strong protest in that case, the Santa Barbara DA dismissed the charge
in the “interests of justice”. While happy about not being convicted,
she left court saying she was still homeless and questioning why she had
no place to sleep.
Unlike the Santa Barbara dismissal, Gary
Johnson and Ed Frey were convicted in the notoriously bad Santa Cruz
courts. Judge Gallagher is making an example of them for standing-up
against the anti-homeless laws of Santa Cruz and California.
Law” 647e states, “Who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or
place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or
person entitled to the possession or in control of it” “are guilty of
disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor". According to the Santa Cruz courts,
Santa Barbra Police, and the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s department, “lodging”
means the same thing as “sleeping”. In May 2011, this same anti-homeless
law 647e was made even worse with the State Legislature making a second
violation punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. So now
homelessness in the state of California is punishable by up to a year in
jail if one is caught sleeping twice.
Voting for this worsened
anti-homeless law were Democrats and Republicans alike, including local
Santa Cruz Democrat and darling of many reformist liberals, Bill
Monning. He voted for that increased penalty at the same time that
people who actually stand-up for human rights were fighting against it
with their personal freedom on the line. Not a single Democrat or
Republican voted against.
As the California state government,
dominated by Democrats, passes anti-working class austerity and
extremely harsh anti-homeless legislation, the Democrat holding power in
Washington DC, Barrack Obama, wages wars in an increasing number of the
world’s countries. These are wars for the profit of arms manufacturers,
oil corporations, and other imperialist capitalists. Likewise, Obama
locks-up suspected whistle blower, Bradley Manning, for exposing U.S.
crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bradley Manning is
accused of releasing the helicopter footage that shows U.S. troops
nonchalantly gunning down civilians including journalists, first aid
respondents, and children in cold blood. Instead of charges of murder
for those who committed it, it is Bradley Manning who goes to prison
under Obama while Obama has publicly stated his opinion that Manning “is
guilty”. Likewise, trillions of dollars that could be used in a saner
socialist society for housing, healthcare, jobs, and education are
instead squandered on war under this insane capitalist system.
the local Democrats in power in Santa Cruz send out their cops to
silence protests for human rights for the homeless, to silence protests
against the trillions of tax dollars given to the banks, and cut the
hours of care under the In Home Support Services program by 3.6% in
2011, hours of care that are needed to keep the disabled, elderly, and
dying living and in their homes. While the Democrats of the Santa Cruz
City Council support the city’s anti-homeless laws and police
repression, they oppose measures that would help fight homelessness like
an increase in the minimum wage and have been part of carrying out
austerity that includes the lay-off of workers and cuts in homeless
services while at the same time hiring more cops.
As the current
crisis of capitalism threatens the break-down all that is left that is
civil in our society, the Democrats charge ahead with the Republicans in
making sure it is the poor and working class who pay for the crisis of
capitalism, not capitalist profits. All reformist dreams of the Democrat
Party in any way being a source of any sort of “hope” should be
abandoned in favor of recognizing reality. Labor unions must abandon
their illusions in the Democrats and stop giving them our money and
instead prepare to fight by putting union dues into strike funds. The
true power of labor will never be found groveling at the feet of hostile
Democrat politicians. Instead, labor has the potential to win demands
by shutting down the profits of the capitalists.
As opposed to
the Democrat’s program of more war, more cops, criminalization of
poverty, political repression, and austerity; labor must move forward
with our own demands. Those could include a massive jobs program to
house the homeless and slow climate change, the seizure of housing
foreclosed by the banks to be used by those who need it, and an end to
capitalist medicine in the United States, a major cause of debt,
homelessness, and death. Without an independent fight-back of the
working class, using the power of the strike for political demands, the
situation will just continue to grow bleaker.
* Stop the Repression! Overturn the Convictions of Ed Frey and Gary Johnson! Drop the Charges Against Linda Lemaster!
* Drop the Charges Against the Santa Cruz Eleven!
* End Laws making it Illegal for the Homeless to Sleep at Night!
* Nationalize the Banks! Seize Housing From the Banks for those Who Need Housing!
the 1%! For a Socialist Planned Economy to Provide Housing, Jobs,
Healthcare, and Education For All! No Rent Charged Above 10% of Income!
the Capitalist State in a Proletarian Revolution! Disband all U.S.
Police Forces, Prisons, and Courts (all of which are anti-poor,
anti-working class, and racist). Build a Proletarian Democracy!
revolutionary workers’ party should be built to advocate and lead on
just such a class struggle program. To remain a tool of the working
class in the long run such a party also needs to have an anti-capitalist
program for the building of socialism. Political parties without a
clear and rapid revolutionary anti-capitalist program, once in power,
just become mere rulers over the inherent injustices of the capitalist
system. Instead of capitalism, an egalitarian socialist economy in the
United States with production based on human need rather than capitalist
profit could easily provide everyone with a job, housing, health care,
and free education. Such a society needs to be built on principles of
workers’ democracy rather than Stalinist dictatorship or American style
dictatorship of the wealthy.
Check out the Statement of Purpose of the Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Party (RTSP) [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/01/07/18704314.php]
Join RTSP discussions on Facebook: [http://www.facebook.com/yahoo#!/groups/RevolutionaryTendency]
2012-03-05 "Foreclosure Fight Coming Up!"
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
legalized persecution of the Santa Cruz 11 continues--as does the
Occupy Santa Cruz struggle to mobilize the community against abusive
Sunday March 11th 1 PM Courthouse Steps
Sheriff Wowak: Stop the Foreclosures !
Join the Raging Grannies, Street Theatre, Robbie & Friends, & more. Bank pit stops to include mic-checks,
inspirational speakers, signs, chants, drums. Moderator training & meditation at 12:30 PM
Sponsors include Occupy Santa Cruz Foreclosure Working Group, WILPF, Brown Berets, RCNV,
Occupy Monterey, Occupy Cabrillo,and the UCSC General Assembly.
Fight Foreclosure Fraud. Meetings every Saturday at 4pm. More info: [www.oscforeclosures.org].
Cautionary Note: Daylight Savings Time Begins March 11th Set your clocks ahead an hour!
unused building space for corporate profit in a era of deepening
unemployment and homelessness should be a crime. However, local
authorities instead make it a crime to sleep outside or in a vehicle on
any public property. This degrades the health, dignity, and safety of
Santa Cruz's 1500-2000 homeless people for whom there will be less than
200 beds on April 15 when the Armory Winter Shelter closes.
Some OSC activists continue to maintain a presence at the Occuplaza in front of the Courthouse on Water
St. in spite of harassment, assault, and the seizure of the information table by Sheriff Phil Wowak's deputies. The
6 PM OSC General Assembly continues to defy the unconstitutional 7 PM to 7 AM curfew Tuesdays & Thursdays.
Bob Lee continues his selective and harassing prosecution of OSC
activists on inflated, inflammatory charges of “conspiracy”, “vandalism”
and “trespass”. The charges appear to be SCPD payback for the
embarrassing though brief peaceful occupation of a 3 ½ year vacant bank
building downtown, leased by Wells Fargo Bank, a major predatory lender,
as speculative investment.
Five of the eleven charged are reporters for alternative media. Total charges: 44; Total Felony charges:
Our District Attorney's Office may now lead the country as the False
Felony Fabricating Capital of the Country, with Santa Cruz's D.A. Bob
Lee charging more felonies against OSC activists than any other city,
including Oakland and New York. Estimated cost: Several hundred thousand
dollars and rising.
Ed Frey, Gary Johnson, Linda Lemaster, & Chris Doyon, the PeaceCamp Four face 6 months jail for
protesting the City's Sleeping Ban with Judge John Gallagher's backing the unconstitutionally vague PC 647e.
Anti-Activist Arraignments 8:15 AM Dept. 7
Tuesday March 6th
Foreclosure Speak-Out 9 AM 5th Floor County Bldg
Other Court Dates
• Arraignments: Becky Johnson & Robert Norse 8:15 AM Tuesday March 6th Dept. 7
• Jury Trial for Gary Johnson 9 AM Monday March 19th Dept. 2
• Preliminary Hearing Santa Cruz Eleven 9 AM April 23 Dept. 7
Other Local Protest and Solidarity & Events Actions:
• Non-Violence Training March 7th 5 PM Courthouse steps on Water St.
• March Against Foreclosure Fraud March 11th 1 PM Courthouse steps on Water St.
• Mid-March: Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry speaks and marches TBA
• April 1 National Day of Action for the Homeless Right to Exist: Housekeys not Handcuffs TBA
D.A. Lee: Drop all charges against the Santa Cruz Eleven & the PeaceCamp Four ! 831-454-2400
meets Tuesdays & Thursdays at 6 PM, Saturdays 2 PM on the steps
of the County courthouse; Sundays at Main Post Office
More on OSC at [http://occupysantacruz.org] & [http://www.facebook.com/groups/occupysantacruz]
HUFF meets Wednesdays 10 AM to noon at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific Ave.
Free Radio Santa Cruz Updates Sundays 9:30 AM to 1 PM, 6 PM- 8 PM, Tuesdays 6-9 PM, Thursdays 6-8 PM 427-3772
Flier by Norse of HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833 [www.huffsantacruz.org] 309 Cedar PMB #14B S.C. 3-5-12
2012-01-11 "Indefinite Detention Santa Cruz Style: SleepCriminal Gary Johnson Held on $5000 Bail" by Robert Norse
Johnson, the homeless activist doing a nightly protest against the
Sleeping Ban, the Lodging Ban, and the curfew at the Courthouse, was
held from Friday 1-6 through Tuesday 1-10. On Tuesday morning he was
brought into Department 2 (John Gallagher's court) in shackles and
manacles in his orange jump suit on $5000 bail. He left in the same
condition after getting a February 3 1:30 PM date for a demurrer hearing
before Gallagher (challenging the Constitutionality of PC 647e, the
Lodging Ban. He was refused release and returned to jail on a bail of
Ed Frey, who was convicted with Johnson last year, of the
same crime he's been charged with for last week's peaceful political
protest, made several arguments before Judge Gallagher. Frey argued that
Gary had made all his court dates, his so-called crime was a
non-violent action which hurt no one, and that, as a homeless man, he
had no legal place to sleep in the City of Santa Cruz.
Gallagher insisted he could go to the "homeless shelter". To this, Frey
responded that the waiting list was many weeks long and the shelter
could only accommodate a fraction of the homeless community. Gallagher
echoed the district attorney's argument against a no-bail release
pending trial saying that Johnson had told deputies he would be
returning to sleep there in protest when he was initially arrested.
however, said, through Frey, that he would obey all laws, presumably
including 647e, the Lodging Ban, which Gallagher has previous
interpreted to include sleeping. Frey pointed out that under that
ruling, there was no legal place at all for Gary to sleep, and that
sleep was a biological necessity.
Gallagher pointed out that
Frey was "getting angry". Frey agreed. February 3 at 1:30 PM was the
date and time set for a "demurrer" hearing, which will argue that the
law is unconstitutional. Two similar arguments in prior cases have been
turned down by Gallagher.
SPEEDY TRIAL MIGHT LEAD TO A HUNG JURY OR JURY NULLIFICATION
nullification is the right of a jury to say "not guilty" in spite of
the judge's instructions and the law's wording in the interests of
Gallagher's clear bias led me to suggest to Frey that
instead of another demurrer hearing before Gallagher, Johnson demand a
speedy jury trial (required within 30 days, since he's in custody). If
one juror refused to find Johnson guilty--seeing the absurdity of the
charges perhaps--then the D.A. might be less likely to go for a second
trial (costing thousands of bucks). It might also discourage deputies
from citing Occupy Santa Cruz protesters for the offense---something
repeatedly done, followed by "disappearing charges" which don't show up
when the victims come to court. Frey said he would propose this to
Linda Lemaster's attorney Jonathan Gettleman has used a
different strategy against the protest-smashing 647e charge. He filed a
writ of habeas corpus in response to her 647e charge to which the
D.A.'s office has recently responded. Gettleman's brief can be found at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/20/18690858.php?show_comments=1]
SLEEPING BAN UPDATE
a review of court records reveals that the City's Sleeping Ban (MC
6.36.010a), the law against which Johnson has been protesting for
several years as far back as PeaceCamp2010 shows that the new fine for
sleeping after 11 PM outside or in a vehicle on public property is $155.
Those cited with this law are advised to get on a waiting list
at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center in order to have such future
tickets dismissed. HLOSC Director Monica Martinez is refusing to write
letters to the court acknowledging that the shelter is full--something
previously done as a matter of course under HLOSC Directors Ken Cole and
Doug Loisel. However, a law passed under protest pressure in the fall
of 2010 requires the City Attorney to dismiss MC 6.36 charges if the
person charged was on a waiting list for the HLOSC or the River St.
For those convicted of the City's Sleeping Ban
or Blanket Ban (MC 6.36.010b), the law limits judges from giving more
than 8 hours of Community Service. In Johnson's case, Commissioner Kim
Baskett has twice defied this requirement and given him 25 hours last
Just as Gallagher refuses to follow the U.S. and
California Constitutions, Baskett apparently has no problem ignoring
even the city's own legal code when by doing so, she can punish poor
people more severely.
2011-11-07 "Occupy Santa Cruz Stands Up to Order to
Leave on November 16th; Protests to be held Monday and Tuesday" by
This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free:
Santa Cruz City Government has issued a permit to Occupy Santa Cruz
that falsely accuses the camp of being unsafe and unsanitary. Yet the
permit has a deadline of noon on November 16th at which time the city’s
“authorization” of the right to protest ends.
In response the
General Assembly of Occupy Santa Cruz passed a resolution on November
6th that states in part: “While the General Assembly of Occupy Santa
Cruz appreciates the City authorities’ public recognition that our
assembly is within our First Amendment rights, we want to make known
that the unsolicited permit issued to us violates these rights. Our
permit is the First Amendment.”
Yet in a letter from Democrat
Mayor Ryan Coonerty to Occupy participant Justin White, Coonerty defends
the City’s position saying, “First Amendment case law for the past
hundred years recognizes that government can issue ‘reasonable time,
place and manner" restrictions on public gatherings.’”
Santa Cruz statement, however, states in no uncertain terms, “As people
of the United States of America, our rights to freedom of speech and
assembly do not end at a certain time of night, nor at noon on November
16th as indicated in the permit.”
After defending the City’s
position, Coonerty goes on to say, “I hope the protest complies with the
reasonable terms of the permit…” This request for compliance comes
after he also tried to distance himself from the letter saying he didn’t
write it and, “The permit and its enforcement was done by the Police
and City Attorney.”
So Occupy Santa Cruz is supposed to believe
that Mayor Coonerty has nothing to do with actions he supports and that
are being carried out by the police department and city attorney’s
office that he is the boss of.
In addition to the eviction notice
masked as a “permit”, the cops of the local Democratic Party controlled
government have been ticketing protesters under an anti-homeless law
that makes sleep illegal. The law is 647e, a California state law that
was recently toughened up by the Democrat controlled state legislature
making two acts of sleeping potentially punishable by a year in jail.
Santa Cruz protesters for the homeless, Ed Frey and Gary Johnson, were
convicted last summer of 647e and sentenced to 6 months in jail. This
was for protesting on the county steps against Santa Cruz laws that make
it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night. Bail was set for Ed
Frey, pending appeal, at $50,000. Their only act of civil disobedience
was sleeping. This occurred at a three month protest called “Peace Camp
2010”. Revealing the political nature of the draconian sentences, Judge
Gallagher told homeless activist Gary Johnson that he “could get some
sleep in jail” before they were dragged away in chains for their 6 month
sentences. The law they were protesting makes it illegal for the
homeless to sleep at night, outside, in a tent, or in a vehicle.
Friday, June 24, after two weeks in jail, Ed Frey was released on bail
pending appeal with his bail of $50,000 dollars reduced to $110.
Supporters quickly passed the hat and Ed Frey was released from jail on
bail. Gary Johnson’s bail was reduced the next week and he too was
released pending appeal. Both face a continuation of their six month
sentences if their appeals fail.
Another Peace Camp 2010
protester, Linda Lemaster, is still awaiting trial for the crime of
sleeping. Dozens of other protesters were ticketed during the protests
with tickets going to arrest warrants. Government repression eventually
shut down the Peace Camp 2010 protests.
Now the liberal
government of Santa Cruz has issued half a dozen 647e tickets to Occupy
Santa Cruz protesters as well. In addition, they have arrested one
protester, Felix Krull, who has been held in jail on $500 bail. He may
or may not have been released as of this writing. His “crime” was being
caught sleeping and then failing to show adequate ID to the police.
Occupy Santa Cruz statement says, “We are seeking cooperation from city
officials to prevent police repression of our assembly.”
local Democrats in power in Santa Cruz send out their county and city
cops to silence protests for human rights for the homeless, support
legislation against immigrants like the “Secure Communities” program,
and threaten to cut the already meager wages of In Home Support Workers,
wages needed to provide the care that helps keep the disabled, elderly,
and dying in their homes. While Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty supports
the city’s anti-homeless laws, police repression, and has signed on
with the anti-immigrant “Secure Communities” program, he opposes
measures that would help fight homelessness like an increase in the
minimum wage and has been part of carrying out austerity that includes
the lay-off of workers and cuts in homeless services while at the same
time hiring more cops.
As the current crisis of capitalism
threatens the break-down all that is left that is civil in our society,
the Democrats charge ahead with the Republicans in making sure it is the
poor and working class who pay for the crisis of capitalism, not
capitalist profits. All reformist dreams of the Democrat Party in any
way being a source of any sort of “hope” should be abandoned in favor of
recognizing reality. Labor unions must abandon their illusions in the
Democrats and stop giving them our money and instead prepare to fight by
putting union dues in strike funds. The true power of labor will never
be found groveling at the feet of hostile Democrat politicians. Instead,
labor has the potential to win demands by shutting down the profits of
As opposed to the Democrat’s program of more
war, more cops, criminalization of poverty, political repression, and
austerity; labor should move forward with our own demands. Those could
include a massive jobs program to house the homeless, the seizure of
housing foreclosed by the banks to be used by those who need it, and an
end to capitalist medicine in the United States, a major cause of debt,
homelessness, and death. Without an independent fight-back of the
working class, using the power of the strike for political demands, the
situation will just continue to grow bleaker.
potential of a real and massive fight for economic justice and against
brutal police repression, Oakland workers participated in a general
strike on November 2nd that shut much of the city down including closing
the Port of Oakland. At least 50,000 people protested.
on October 14th New York’s Mayor Bloomberg (Democrat) tried to take the
brutal repression that has taken place there a step further by clearing
the Occupy Wall Street Protesters from Liberty Plaza. Yet, a mass
protest defending the square that included strong union participation
caused Mayor Bloomberg to back down with his police.
organization of a mass defense of Occupy Santa Cruz at noon on November
16th should begin now. Mass support may be needed to defend Occupy Santa
Cruz at the time the “permit” expires. Union participation and the
participation of the entire community is urgently needed. People should
show up early. Hands off Occupy Santa Cruz!
In addition, the following actions have been called by the "Occupy Santa Cruz!":
Join the Occupy Santa Cruz March to City Hall
Monday, November 7th at 2:30
Meet at the Santa Cruz County Court House (at Ocean and Water at the Water street side)
March to City Hall and confront the City Council and City Manager at 3:00 PM
And on Tuesday, November 8th, at 5:00 PM
People will speak out at Oral Communications of the Santa Cruz City Council
Location: City Hall (809 Center Street)
Hands off Occupy Santa Cruz! No to the November 16th eviction date!
Drop the Charges Against Occupy Santa Cruz Protesters! Free Felix Krull!
Drop the Charges and Overturn the Sentences all Peace Camp 2010 Protesters!
End Laws making it Illegal for the Homeless to Sleep at Night and Occupy protest!
Housing From the Banks for those Who Need Housing! For a Nation Wide
Jobs Program Building Housing for All! Expropriate the 1%!
2011-09-20 "Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban
Struggle: Judge Accepts Considering "Writ of Habeus Corpus" by Becky
Johnson, Linda Lemaster, Robert Norse
pressure from pro bono attorney Jonathan Gettleman in an extensive Writ
of Habeas Corpus brief, Superior Court Judge John Galllagher postponed
the scheduled misdemeanor trial of long-time homeless activist Linda
Lemaster for at least a month. Before the trial, Gallagher will hear the
Habeas Corpus motion, which claims that Lemaster cannot even be tried
for "lodging" because the case is really one of political dissent being
suppressed by authorities.
Lemaster PC 647 (e) Case Postponed until October 28th
Cruz, Ca. -- Appearing in court on Wednesday, September14th for a
pre-trial readiness hearing, Linda Lemaster still faces misdemeanor
"illegal lodging" for allegedly falling asleep at PeaceCamp2010 on a
single night in August 2010.
Her pro bono attorney, Jonathon
Gettleman, filed a comprehensive writ of habeas corpus, claiming that
647(e) is vague and overbroad, and that Lemaster's freedom of speech was
truncated when County Sheriff Deputies used the antique "lodging" law
to break up an otherwise legal protest.
Deputy District Attorney
Sara Dabkowski again offered to reduce Lemaster's charges to an
infraction with zero public service as a consequence. Having previewed
the Writ a week earlier, Lemaster declined again.
In court, Judge
John Gallagher, Dept 2, ordered DA Dabkowski to answer Gettleman's
"well-written, voluminous" brief by October 14th, with Gettleman's
response to hers due by October 21st. A hearing on the 'writ' is set for
October 28th. If a trial is to result, the date will be set then. The
hearing is to take a closer look at the Lodging law as applied during
In related news, Ed Frey and Gary Johnson,
convicted of PC 647(e) in May 2011, have received the court-approved
complete transcript of their trial in order to file their appeals. Frey
and Johnson still face the remainder of their 6 month sentences should
their appeals fail.
# # # #
Linda Lemaster herself on Linda's Hearth at [http://www.hearthbylinda.blogspot.com/]
notes: I was very impressed by the "Writ of habeas Corpus", eighty
pages my attorney brought together to bring the First Amendment back
into these trials and hearings. As a long time advocate for homeless
families and individuals, I felt a kind of validation when I saw the
Jones and Eichorn cases, and the ghost of Mitch Snyner in gettleman's
citing the Community for Creative Nonviolence's supreme court's
decision, in this Writ.
I hope to be able to focus for a bit now,
health permitting, on a fundraising dinner. To raise money for legal
costs, but this event also hopes to function as a thank-you for both
attorneys involved so far with this lodging law stuff.
a "dinner committee" (and it 'may' not be a consensual one?). If any of
you would like to be contacted or included in planning and carrying out
such an event, e me back with your phone number or preferred contact
info (I have neither a meeting directory nor a computer in my home at
If you have not read "my" article in Street Spirit's
September issue, here's the URL to their dynamic website:
thestreetspirit.org. Putting "my" in quote marks because it was largely
and sensitively edited (two stories into one!) by Street Spirit's editor
Terry Messman, who deserves equal credit on the writing in this
More recent stories about PeaceCamp 2010, the
struggle against the City's anti-homeless Sleeping Ban, and those being
prosecuted for Sleepcrime can be found at "D.A. Bob Lee Tries Linda
Lemaster for Sleep Ban Protest" at [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/13/18690213.php] Follow the links there.