Santa Cruz is attacking houseless people [link]
by Robert Norse [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/16/18735297.php]:
I received the following information by phone a few minutes ago. The charges against the two arrested were not clear, though they may be something like "camping" (i.e. survival sleeping during the day--which is not illegal).
I just received a preliminary report from two of six people who were accosted by authorities in the Pogonip about an hour or two ago. Two others in the group--Freedom of Occupy Santa Cruz and Andrew--were arrested for failing to leave (the charge was unclear). Since it was during the day, the Pogonip was open. One of those I spoke with, Baba, told me that when he asked what their crime was and why they were being told to leave, one of the three officers (a ranger, a SCPD officer, and a sheriff) told him "what if a family with some children came down and saw you here?"
Baba noted that he first found this offensive with the implication that they were "unsightly" because of their appearance (youthful traveling alternative culture folks). Then on reflection he was even more deeply troubled because the officer's comments implied that the area was open to families but not to "his kind".
Baba noted that the officers did not confiscate any property, gave them time to move their stuff (including two dogs), and told them they could "go to some other city". It was still not clear what Freedom and Andrew were arrested for, but I hope to learn more soon.
Freedom had widely announced her interest in convening a meeting to deal with safe and secure sleeping space for the 100 people denied shelter when the Winter Armory Shelter had its last night on April 14th-15th.
The weekly HUFF meeting, as described at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735243.php tomorrow at 10 AM will discuss the situation. All are invited.
I'm attaching a history of criminalization of the homeless from WRAP (Western Regional Advocacy Project), a group of West Coast organizations fighting for the civil rights of those outside.
Update: I just spoke with Cody by phone--who reported being there throughout the incident. He clarified that the "crime" for which the two were arrested was "being in a closed area" rather than sleeping. Cody's impression was that the officers (he counted two SCPD and one ranger) would have allowed them to go elsewhere in the Pogonip, though not necessarily to sleep the night (the Pogonip is "closed" at night).
According to the police, Cody reported, the two wouldn't be released until Friday. He said he urged the two of them not to be arrested, and was able to persuade one other in the group to leave. Cody said he'd be at the HUFF meeting tomorrow if people want a direct account.
Report Problems to Keep Us All Informed -
Please post any threats, abuse, or violence by police or vigilantes with time, date, and particulars. That's another subject to be discussed at the meeting today and in the days ahead. It would be great to have someone like Brent put together a video documenting recent abuses downtown by police in their massive overpoliceing against homeless and street people. In a separate comment, I'll be posting a form that can be downloaded and used.
I encourage those interested in restoring civil rights to check out the Saturday 2 PM meeting at Sub Rosa. Since folks do have to sleep every night, I encourage people to sleep in groups and seek out one person with a cellphone or other audio/video device a a form of protection and documentation.
If people do plan protests, I encourage them to seek support from housed people including witnesses, video, media contacts, and the prospect of having their property taken.
As outlined in a previous flyer ("Arm the Homeless with Cell Phones... at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/15/18735243.php ), issues to be discussed at that meeting include Organizing protection against the new rash of attacks on homeless people; Start a Thug Watch Santa Cruz; Education about the California Homeless Bill of Rights; Discussing the formation of a Homes Not Jails housing occupation movement; Strategies for Responding to the growing knowledge that we are facing another Great Depression.
While I'm a continuing supporter of sanctuary camps established with official buy-in over the long run, I'm not terribly optimistic about this prospect in Santa Cruz, given the history of prior attempts here by individuals as presitigeous and well-funded as philanthropist Paul Lee (the Eco-Village movement of a decade or two ago).
It may be particularly difficult given the ravenous right-wing hysteria of the last year, as well as the increasingly powerful position of toxic NIMBY drive-away-the-homeless groups like Take Back Santa Cruz, masquerading as Public Safety groups.
I don't think there is any magic bullet, but solidarity is a key factor here. If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately, as the old Ben Franklin adage goes.