Red, a participant in the Peace Camp 2010 protest against the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban, said that she and about 15 other demonstrators moved to City Hall at 3am on Wednesday, August 11th. The Peace Camp had been at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse since July 4th, and persevered through six Sheriff raids.
“We took it to the city because it’s a city problem,” said Red. “So we’re camped outside the mayor’s office.” Bob, one of the demonstrators, was reportedly cited for falling asleep in violation of the city’s municipal code against sleeping.
In a frank voice, Red proclaimed, “They chase us around, but there really is no place for us to go. They don’t have shelter space for us. They are prosecuting us for something we can’t help. That’s what the Jones decision was about.”
Red was referring to the 2006 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, in which the court struck down a Los Angeles ordinance criminalizing people who sleep on the streets when no shelter is available.
“The Eighth Amendment prohibits the City from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles,” wrote Judge Kim Wardlaw.
Although Sleeping Bans have been ruled unconstitutional and overturned in several California cities, including San Diego, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles and Richmond, it is still enforced vigorously in Santa Cruz.
“I got three tickets,” revealed Red. Then she clarified that Wiley, her Long-haired Chihuahua who is becoming the Peace Camp mascot, actually received one of the three citations. Red reports that Wiley was singled out amongst other dogs with their humans on August 9th while resting in San Lorenzo Park where four-legged barkers are officially banned. Wiley was next to Red and her bag of clothing, while the ticketing Ranger was ignoring other pooches in the park, who apparently were of a higher pedigree.
According to Red, Peace Camp 2010 is now an ongoing, around the clock protest at Santa Cruz City Hall. She said that people can sleep there during the day, which is something spokesperson Chris Doyan was trying to do for a little bit. However, that fundamental human function may be interpreted as being in violation of California’s anti-lodging law, PC 647(e), which was used repeatedly by County Sheriffs against demonstrators in the first week of August as they protested at the Courthouse.
During Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban hours, 11pm to 8:30am, Red stated that people had to sit up and be awake while protesting at City Hall, or risk being ticketed for falling asleep. She also said that demonstrators agreed to maintain peace and cleanliness.
The Peace Camp 2010 demands, reports Red, are “lift the Sleeping Ban and amnesty on all tickets.” She added, “Give us a place, a tent city. Until we can get back on our feet again.”
Actually, it’s hard for Red to stand on her feet at all. Sometimes she is pushed around in a cart and other times walks with a cane. Red has a painful degenerative bone disease, also called osteoarthritis, and says that she has been checked out at the county hospital.
Although Red has plans to be back in a vehicle very soon, she says she will, “still demonstrate against the Sleeping Ban because it is wrong.”
I also spoke with Red on August 10th, which was the previous day, and published an article with photos titled after a couple signs she displayed: One Big Earthquake and You’re All Homeless: End the Sleeping Ban
Crossposted at Indybay.org.