Friday, August 21, 2015

Attendance Doubles at Sixth City Hall Sleepout

More than 60 people gathered at Santa Cruz City Hall on August 18 for the latest in a series of community campouts organized to protest local laws that ban sleeping in public. It was the sixth held at City Hall since July, and was attended by approximately twice as many sleepers as the previous campouts.

Santa Cruz City Hall

Santa Cruz City Hall is closed to the public at night. To sleep in its courtyard is an act of civil disobedience being undertaken by protesters to, in part, pressure the city to open up its parks at night for homeless people to sleep in.

Another one of the demands of participants is the repeal of the sleeping/camping ban, which outlaws sleeping in public (with or without setting up bedding) in the City of Santa Cruz between the hours of 11pm and 8:30am, in addition to prohibiting sleeping in cars.

The sleepouts are attended by people with houses and people without houses of their own to live in. Some have raised tents on the City Hall lawn, but most use some form of sleeping pad and stay out in the open using sleeping bags or blankets. Many use cardboard as a sleeping pad.

Some have slept directly on the ground or the sidewalk with little or no bedding.

At the August 18 sleepout, a small cardboard sign that was visible on top of a person's sleeping gear simply read, "I made mistakes."

The Santa Cruz Police Department has attempted to clear City Hall of four of the five previous sleepouts by warning and/or citing those found in the courtyard after hours. After the police leave, however, participants go back to sleep and stay the night.

On the evening of August 18-19, thirteen officers arrived at 1:30am, and issued at least two citations to individuals for being in the City Hall courtyard after hours.

A large group of sleepers eventually returned to the courtyard to stay through the night, and volunteers brought breakfast for everyone shortly before 7am.

Four police officers surround person and issue a citation

Police stand in the City Hall courtyard after it is temporarily cleared

A person parked their wheel chair next to City Hall during the sleepout

City Hall at 6am

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