Sunday, January 3, 2016

Community Sleepout #22

On December 8, community members in Santa Cruz joined together for their twenty-second sleepout at city hall. The sleepouts were initiated on July 4 by unhoused and housed community members to oppose laws that criminalize sleeping in public places within the city.

Sunrise in front of Santa Cruz City Hall
Over the course of the protests, the Santa Cruz Police Department and city staff have taken extreme measures to prevent people from entering and sleeping in the city hall complex at night. The area is marked "no trespassing" between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.

Police raids have been the norm for the majority of the sleepouts, with SCPD officers ticketing and sometimes arresting demonstrators for their participation.

No one was arrested or cited at the December 8 sleepout, but a group of security guards stood watch over, and patrolled, the city hall courtyard all night long.

Despite the heavy security presence, a small group of sleepers have made it through the night for every one of the protests since July 4. Protesters have mostly slept on the sidewalk, but some also take shelter in the landscaping area of the public library.

Organizers of the sleepouts typically have a variety of food items to share with those in need, and breakfast is also served each morning. Sometimes bedding and sleeping supplies are also provided, but those items go fast and people with no possessions usually sleep on cardboard.

On the nights the protests are held, the location has generally been the only place for people who have nothing to go.

Sleepers on the sidewalk in front of Santa Cruz City Hall

A sleeper creates a shelter next to the library

A sleeper uses an emergency blanket next to the library

Two sleepers on the sidewalk in front of city hall

A sleeper airs their clothing out in front of city hall

The no trespassing sign in the courtyard of city hall. Security guards watch on.

Breakfast was served at 7 am

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