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

No comments: