[Hpn] ALERT - Santa Cruz Homeless Activists Banned from City Hall - HUFF press release - CA USA HUFF press release - CA USA

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Fri, 29 Dec 2000 23:01:58 -0800 (PST)

CIRCULATE PLEASE to nonviolent defenders of Homeless People's Civil Rights: FWD 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. END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People organizing: *********************************************************** 9000+ articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people INFO & to join/leave list - Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***********************************************************