Sunday, November 27, 2016

After Rain, Santa Cruz Police Eject Homeless Individuals Sleeping at City Hall and Make One Arrest

Santa Cruz police initiated a raid at City Hall on November 23 at 3:30 am, shortly after it stopped raining that evening, to clear from the area approximately two dozen individuals who had been sleeping and sheltering themselves from the weather under the eaves of the buildings in the complex. Officers issued citations to individuals, and made one arrest. City Hall property is closed to the public between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Many of those sleeping at City Hall were participating in the weekly Freedom Sleepers sleep protest, while others were simply sheltering themselves from the wet weather temporarily with the group.

SCPD officers wake up individuals sleeping at Santa Cruz City Hall to avoid the rain on November 23.

The evening of November 22-23 marked the 72nd community sleepout organized by the Freedom Sleepers, a coalition of unhoused and housed activists who have been sleeping at Santa Cruz City Hall since July 4, 2015 to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness.

The Freedom Sleepers generally sleep on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. By choosing to locate the protest on the sidewalk, the group receives less attention from police, who have raided the sleepouts many times in the past.

Despite intense pressure from the city, police, and park rangers to prevent people from sleeping at City Hall, many of the Freedom Sleepers are receiving feedback from houseless people that the sleepouts are the only place in Santa Cruz where they can get a full night's sleep.

Before the police arrived on November 23, a group of five security guards with First Alarm conducted an initial sweep of City Hall to wake some of the sleepers up.

One person said he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep after being woken up by the security guards.

Later, another person who was issued a citation questioned its validity. As police officers were writing him up, he stated loudly that he would simply be moving across the street to sleep when law enforcement was gone.

After the raid, quite a few people did leave the area. The concrete was damp, and the temperature was dipping into the mid-forties.

The sky had cleared, however, and by 5 am about a dozen individuals had moved to the sidewalk to go back to sleep while it was still dark.

Two First Alarm guards stayed through the morning time to keep City Hall clear of sleepers.

The Freedom Sleepers have said they will continue to sleep every Tuesday night at Santa Cruz City Hall indefinitely.

At 3 am dozens slept under the eaves of City Hall, but one person was sleeping on the wet sidewalk

Police wake a person in a sleeping bag at City Hall

SCPD issues citations

One person is arrested

As one person is arrested, another moves their possessions onto the sidewalk

Police shine their lights on people watching the raid from the sidewalk

One person packs up the cardboard they were using as a sleeping pad

After clearing City Hall, police looked on for a while

Police leave City Hall driving through puddles

About a dozen sleepers were on the sidewalk at 5:30 am

A sign left on council chambers during the city council meeting held earlier that evening

At 6 am, a truck drives by those sleeping at City Hall (three people are sleeping in this photo)

One of the police vehicles that arrived at City Hall at 3:30 am was missing a headlight

Monday, November 14, 2016

Attendance at City Hall Sleepouts Remains High

On November 8, the 70th Freedom Sleepers community sleepout was held at Santa Cruz City Hall, with about three dozen individuals participating and making it through the night. There have been periods of wet weather recently, but Tuesday nights have been dry in Santa Cruz, and attendance at the sleepouts has remained consistently high since August of this year.

The Freedom Sleepers are a coalition of unhoused and housed activists who have gathered to sleep at City Hall one night a week since July of 2015 to protest local laws that criminalize homelessness.

Many of the Freedom Sleepers are also active as volunteers with Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, which shares food at the sleepouts and operates a "free market."

By sleeping at City Hall, the Freedom Sleepers are engaging in a civil disobedience protest that directly violates the city's camping ban, which outlaws sleeping anywhere in public between the hours of 11 pm and 8:30 am.

Despite intense pressure from the city, police, and park rangers to prevent people from sleeping at City Hall, many of the Freedom Sleepers are receiving feedback from houseless people that the sleepouts are the only place they can get a full night's sleep.

The Freedom Sleepers next sleepout is planned for this Tuesday night at Santa Cruz City Hall.

[The photos in this article were taken at the community sleepouts organized on October 18, October 25, November 1, and November 8.]

Santa Cruz City Hall

Brake lights from a passing vehicle illuminate the sleepers

Steve Pleich, next to the Food Not Bombs van

Community members drop off goods to be shared at the free market

Santa Cruz High School Students Walk Out to Protest Donald Trump

A group of students from Santa Cruz High School marched downtown on Pacific Avenue today, November 14, as part of a walk-out to protest the naming of Donald Trump as president. Their chants of "Not My President" could be heard a block away from Front Street, and one student carried a protest sign that read "Fuck Trump."

UCSC Students Organize Third Anti-Trump Demonstration Since Presidential Election

A third Anti-Donald Trump march was organized by students from UCSC on Friday, November 11, with participation from the greater Santa Cruz community.

Anti-Trump demonstrators hold a short general assembly on Front Street to decide where to march next.

Students first started gathering mid-afternoon on Friday at Quarry Plaza to create protest signs. They then marched from UCSC to Mission Plaza, where community members had formed a giant circle in order to host an open mic. More speakers were heard when the students arrived, and a march through the downtown was held, which attracted many onlookers as participants.

The energy was high. Individuals chanted as group "Not My President!" and "No Walls, No KKK, No Fascist USA!"

As the march made its way down Front Street, demonstrators held a short general assembly at Cooper Street, which determined the march would move onward through local neighborhoods, eventually passing through the Beach Flats and arriving at the Boardwalk for another brief discussion.

Students' first march took place on November 8, unfolding spontaneously on the evening of the election as vote counts were being reported. When Donald Trump was being named President-elect, students exited their residential halls and marched around the UCSC campus. A second demonstration was organized at UCSC on November 9. That evening a large group of students marched from campus to the downtown where they merged with another Anti-Trump demonstration that was organized at the Town Clock.

Mission Plaza Park

People with signs assemble for a group photo

Pacific Avenue, Downtown Santa Cruz

Assembling at Front and Cooper Street for a short general assembly

At the Boardwalk

One individual set a flag on fire. It was put out quickly by others in the group who disapproved.