Thursday, September 25, 2014

Protesters Demand Faster, More Complete Response from SCPD Regarding Records Requests

Following a year of complaints about SCPD public safety Officer Barnett, who is assigned to patrol downtown Santa Cruz, the organization Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) has begun an inquiry with the Santa Cruz Police Department to study the citations Barnett has issued. According to HUFF, Barnett has been, "accused by numerous community members of anti-homeless and racist harassment." To raise more awareness about this issue, and to pressure the Santa Cruz Police Department to release the information about Barnett's law enforcement practices more promptly, HUFF held a demonstration outside of the police station on September 17.

Through a series of California Public Record Act requests, HUFF has obtained a cache of incident reports distilled from citations officer Barnett has written downtown. The group reports, however, that SCPD has required them to inspect the original physical copies of the citations at the station in person if they wish to gather any information concerning the race or ethnicity of the individuals targeted for enforcement, and that those citations were not ready to be viewed. Members of HUFF eventually did view the citations on September 24.

The police station, located on Center Street, is a hub of activity with officers constantly arriving and departing in patrol vehicles.

At the September 17 demonstration, members of HUFF shouted out to communicate to the SCPD officers, and they physically oriented their protests signs so that officers could read them.

HUFF offered those passing by the demonstration free coffee and chocolate brownies on a table, which also displayed protest signs that read, "No Ferguson in Santa Cruz" and "Decriminalize Poverty."

Many cars driving by honked in support of the demonstrators and gave them thumbs up sign. Others jeered, and some flipped the group the "birdie."

Robert Norse, the founder of HUFF, initiated a "Too many cops in Santa Cruz" chant, and a man in a car yelled out in response, "Yes, I know!"

Another demonstrator chanted repeatedly, "Go after the real criminals. not after the homeless. The police must protect and serve."

Robert Norse

ARM the HOMELESS with cell phone cameras, community support and dignity

This sign refers to complaints HUFF has received concerning certain local coffee shops that have refused to serve customers carrying homeless survival gear and/or large backpacks.

Entrance to the police station lobby.

Instructions for Homeless people on how to retrieve seized property are located on the front door of the police department's lobby.

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