[Hpn] ALERT - Santa Cruz Homeless Activists Banned from City Hall -
HUFF press release - CA USA
HUFF press release - CA USA
Fri, 29 Dec 2000 23:01:58 -0800 (PST)
CIRCULATE PLEASE to nonviolent defenders of Homeless People's Civil Rights:
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
309 Cedar St. PMB 14B - Santa Cruz, Ca. USA 95060
(831) 423-HUFF fax (831) 429-8529 e-mail HUFF <Wmnofstl@cruzio.com>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 28, 2000
MAYOR BANS PETETIONERS FROM CITY HALL
FITZMAURICE IGNORES HOMELESS DEATHS, TARGETS ACTIVISTS AGAIN
Santa Cruz, Ca.- Rather than address the record 41 homeless deaths in 2000,
on December 26th, Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice orchestrated a Temporary
Restraining Order barring petitioners from the previously public City
Council Offices during business hours at 809 Center Street. Coming on the
heels of the highest homeless death toll ever announced at the Homeless
Services Center in the December 21st "Reading of the Names of the Dead",
the Injunction targeted protesters trying to get Sleeping Ban and Blanket
Ban Repeal on a special winter City Council agenda session.
Since December 4th, activists from HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship &
Freedom), the Homeless Working Group, Humanity Now!, the Free Mumia
Coalition, and independent homeless activists have been waiting in the
public foyer of the City Council offices to speak to Council members with
signs and flyers. Every week day morning at 10 a.m., the City Council
Koffee Klatch and Tag-Team Teach-In has served pastries and coffee and
invited community members to educate the Council on the Winter Shelter
Emergency. Less than 160 homeless out of 1500-2000 in the City have legal
shelter; the rest are subject to $54 "Sleeping" tickets, midnight police
move-alongs, and random beatings by "trollbuster" bigots. The United Way
Homeless Census 2000 documents the crisis vividly.
On December 12th at the last Council meeting of the year, activists
displayed a symbolic coffin emblazoned with the name of "Boxer" Billy
Denson, who died of exposure in the Beach Flats on November 11th. In spite
of repeated pleas, Councilmembers put nothing on the agenda to increase
shelter space or decriminalize sleeping, instead cutting off a homeless
rights speaker during Public Comment.
Becky Johnson, Robert Norse, and a third activist are barred from 150 foot
radius of the City Council offices. The circle includes virtually the
entire City Council complex, the front of the Civic Auditorium, the Parks
& Recreation Department, and some of the main Public Library. The 21-page
legal order, signed without an adversarial hearing or notice to the
activists by Judge Samuel Stevens, stems from a complaint by Anna Brooks,
an office worker. In a supporting declaration, Brooks accuses the three
activists of harassing and intimidating her by "pilfering pens", "speaking
in a loud voice into a tape recorder", "engaging members of the public in
conversation", "using the office chairs", making "Public Records Act
requests", and other actions that are for her "emotionally traumatic".
Activists say Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice is the real force behind the lawsuit.
"He doesn't want to deal with the issue of homeless deaths and the
Sleeping Ban. He has repeatedly demanded we leave the office and is hiding
behind his workers," commented Johnson. "This lawsuit is not about us and
Anna Brooks. It's a SLAPP-suit [Strategic Lawsuit Against Public
Participation], designed to intimidate us and others from lobbying to
restore homeless rights."
"Waiting for City Council members in those offices is a constitutionally
protected activity," said Robert Norse. "The City Council has become less
and less tolerant of homeless criticism in the last year; I've been
arrested three times with no charges filed. This latest outrage shows
official determination to shut down even peaceful protest."
"I think the charges are petty and won't hold up in court," said David
Silva, who has filed his own claim against the city for being hauled off
abruptly from a Council meeting last June. Coincidentally or perhaps by
design, the Injunction goes to court on January 10th.
Hence, the injunction excludes activists from attending & speaking at the
January 9th first City Council meeting of the New Year on homeless issues.
"Just another in a long line of Brown Act violations," Norse snapped.
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