[Hpn] Chalkcrime Trial on Valentine's Day

Becky Johnson Becky_Johnson@sbcglobal.net
Thu, 13 Feb 2003 13:58:59 -0800


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HOMELESS UNITED FOR FRIENDSHIP & FREEDOM 309 Cedar St. PMB 14B-- Santa =
Cruz, Ca. 95060 (831) 423-HUFF fax (831) 429-8529 www.huffsantacruz.org=20

Chalk Crime Trial on Valentine's Day

"Commissioner Joseph has no love of the 1st amendment."

--- Robert Norse

Friday, February 14, 2003
Dept. 1, 10 AM



Santa Cruz, Ca. -- As the City of Santa Cruz contemplates school =
closures, budget cuts, and belt-tightening, one area where no scrimping =
is occurring is the City Attorney's office of Santa Cruz who has already =
launched an estimated $10,000 in costs to prosecute local activists Tim =
Rinker and Becky Johnson for using sidewalk chalk on a sidewalk. Their =
conviction on September 13, 2002 is being appealed. Not to be dissuaded, =
the City Attorney will be back in the court of Commissioner Irwin Joseph =
on Friday, February 14th to prosecute Becky Johnson for two more =
incidences of using sidewalk chalk.

The City in September called 7 city employees to the stand (all on the =
taxpayer's dollar) to testify that sidewalk chalk, sold at Palace Arts =
Stationery under the same name, SOLD is a menace to the City of Santa =
Cruz and must be stopped, no matter the price. As a war is looming =
against Iraq, 26 homeless people died in Santa Cruz County this past =
year, and the Citizens Police Review Board has been eliminated due to =
budget restraints, justice against sidewalk chalkers will prevail!!!

"I was ticketed on July 21st," defendant Becky Johnson explained. "when =
the second reading of the anti-homeless downtown ordinances was only 2 =
days away. These ordinances vastly limit where people can play music, =
set up a political table, sit, beg, or perform and I was merely chalking =
the edges of the "safe zones" so that the public could see how small the =
areas will be." Maps provided by the City showing the safe zones were =
innacurate. Rinker and Johnson both claim that using sidewalk chalk to =
write political messages is a first amendment activity, does no damage =
to the sidewalk, is easily removed, and the ordinance in question makes =
no mention of sidewalk chalk as a prohibited activity.


"Redevelopment Agency analyst, Julie Hendee testified at my first =
trial," said Johnson. "She basically said that chalking leads to =
lawlessness, leads to vandalism, leads to the decline of sales in =
businesses and leads to loss of revenue for the City. I think that's a =
pretty big stretch. That's like saying drinking mother's milk in =
childhood leads to heroin addiction." "Basically what we have is an =
ordinance which has been on the books unchanged since 1964, but only in =
the last two or three years have the police begun using this ordinance =
against sidewalk chalkers. And then only against activists and homeless =
people."

The Citizens Police Review Board asked City Council to halt any SCPD =
selective enforcement months before the City Council suddenly eliminated =
the board -- a resolution buried by the City Council in violation of =
City Commission procedures.

In Johnson's previous conviction, Commissioner Joseph dismissed =
Johnson's concerns that she was targeted as a political activist. He =
ruled for the first time that erasable chalking on the sidewalk was not =
a constitutionally protected activity. All such chalking apparently now =
constitutes "defacement" from hopscotch patterns to peace symbols.

"I've been attempting to get discovery on this for my chalking case =
since November 15th. I asked for the list of prosecutions against =
chalkers from 1964 to January 2000. In early January, I was assured that =
while they did not have records that go back to 1964, they do have =
records that go back the previous ten years. I was told that I need only =
come down to the police station to pick up the records. But when I went =
down, they could not find any records for me. Joanne Hopkins of the xxx =
called me back and said "Our computers don't go back that far." She was =
only able to give me data for one month, January 2000.

Furthermore, B. Shepardson, the SCPD Records Supervisor in a memo dated =
2-13-03 stated "..our new Record's Management System was implemented on =
January 1, 2000. In addition, the purge criteria for citations for the =
City of Santa Cruz is two years, therefore all citations prior to =
January 2001 have been destroyed."

Johnson faces two charges of defacement with sidewalk chalk. The second =
charge, for writing in the gutter "Are we so mean-spirited that we would =
deny a homeless person the right to sleep at night, to beg for food with =
a sign after dark, to sit, or to cover up with a blanket?" involved Ms. =
Johnson's arrest, handcuffing, booked, jailed, and $1000 bail for =
misdeanor vandalism. The charge was reduced without explanation to an =
infraction, defacing the sidewalk.

The trial will be held in Department 1, 701 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz, Ca. =
near the intersection of Water St. and Ocean St. at 10 AM. on February =
14, 2003

Photos of the chalkcrime arrest of Becky Johnson can be viewed at =
http:/huffsantacruz.org/becky

For more information: Call HUFF (831) 423-HUFF

Becky Johnson can be reached at (831) 429-8529

Attorney Ed Frey, who filed Becky Johnson and Tim Rinker's appeal

can be reached at (831) 479-8911




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<DIV><B>
<P align=3Dcenter>HOMELESS UNITED FOR FRIENDSHIP &amp; FREEDOM 309 Cedar =
St. PMB=20
14B-- Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060 (831) 423-HUFF fax (831) 429-8529 <A=20
href=3D"http://www.huffsantacruz.org">www.huffsantacruz.org</A> <FONT =
size=3D5></P>
<P align=3Dcenter>Chalk Crime Trial on Valentine's Day</P></FONT><FONT =
size=3D4>
<P align=3Dcenter>"Commissioner Joseph has no love of the 1st =
amendment."</P>
<P align=3Dcenter></FONT><FONT size=3D2>--- Robert Norse</P></FONT><FONT =
size=3D5>
<P align=3Dcenter>Friday, February 14, 2003<BR>Dept. 1, 10 AM</P>
<P align=3Dleft><BR></B></FONT><BR>Santa Cruz, Ca. -- As the City of =
Santa Cruz=20
contemplates school closures, budget cuts, and belt-tightening, one area =
where=20
no scrimping is occurring is the City Attorney's office of Santa Cruz =
who has=20
already launched an estimated $10,000 in costs to prosecute local =
activists<B>=20
Tim Rinker </B>and <B>Becky Johnson </B>for using sidewalk chalk on a =
sidewalk.=20
Their conviction on September 13, 2002 is being appealed. Not to be =
dissuaded,=20
the City Attorney will be back in the court of <B>Commissioner Irwin =
Joseph=20
</B>on Friday, February 14th to prosecute <B>Becky Johnson </B>for two =
more=20
incidences of using sidewalk chalk.<BR><BR>The City in September called =
7 city=20
employees to the stand (all on the taxpayer's dollar) to testify that =
sidewalk=20
chalk, sold at <B><I>Palace Arts Stationery </B></I>under the same name, =
SOLD is=20
a menace to the City of Santa Cruz and must be stopped, no matter the =
price. As=20
a war is looming against Iraq, 26 homeless people died in Santa Cruz =
County this=20
past year, and the <B><I>Citizens Police Review Board </B></I>has been=20
eliminated due to budget restraints, justice against sidewalk chalkers =
will=20
prevail!!!<BR><BR>"I was ticketed on July 21st," defendant <B>Becky =
Johnson</B>=20
explained. "when the second reading of the anti-homeless downtown =
ordinances was=20
only 2 days away. These ordinances vastly limit where people can play =
music, set=20
up a political table, sit, beg, or perform and I was merely chalking the =
edges=20
of the "safe zones" so that the public could see how small the areas =
will be."=20
Maps provided by the City showing the safe zones were innacurate. Rinker =
and=20
Johnson both claim that using sidewalk chalk to write political messages =
is a=20
first amendment activity, does no damage to the sidewalk, is easily =
removed, and=20
the ordinance in question makes no mention of sidewalk chalk as a =
prohibited=20
activity.</P>
<P align=3Dleft><BR>"<B><I>Redevelopment Agency </B></I>analyst, =
<B>Julie Hendee=20
</B>testified at my first trial," said Johnson. "She basically said that =

chalking leads to lawlessness, leads to vandalism, leads to the decline =
of sales=20
in businesses and leads to loss of revenue for the City. I think that's =
a pretty=20
big stretch. That's like saying drinking mother's milk in childhood =
leads to=20
heroin addiction." "Basically what we have is an ordinance which has =
been on the=20
books unchanged since 1964, but only in the last two or three years have =
the=20
police begun using this ordinance against sidewalk chalkers. And then =
only=20
against activists and homeless people."</P>
<P>The <B><I>Citizens Police Review Board </B></I>asked City Council to =
halt any=20
SCPD selective enforcement months before the City Council suddenly =
eliminated=20
the board -- a resolution buried by the City Council in violation of =
City=20
Commission procedures.</P>
<P>In Johnson's previous conviction, Commissioner Joseph dismissed =
Johnson's=20
concerns that she was targeted as a political activist. He ruled for the =
first=20
time that erasable chalking on the sidewalk was not a constitutionally =
protected=20
activity. All such chalking apparently now constitutes "defacement" from =

hopscotch patterns to peace symbols.</P>
<P>"I've been attempting to get discovery on this for my chalking case =
since=20
November 15th. I asked for the list of prosecutions against chalkers =
from 1964=20
to January 2000. In early January, I was assured that while they did not =
have=20
records that go back to 1964, they do have records that go back the =
previous ten=20
years. I was told that I need only come down to the police station to =
pick up=20
the records. But when I went down, they could not find any records for =
me.=20
Joanne Hopkins of the xxx called me back and said "Our computers don't =
go back=20
that far." She was only able to give me data for one month, January =
2000.</P>
<P>Furthermore, <B>B. Shepardson</B>, the SCPD Records Supervisor in a =
memo=20
dated 2-13-03 stated "..our new Record's Management System was =
implemented on=20
January 1, 2000. In addition, the purge criteria for citations for the =
City of=20
Santa Cruz is two years, therefore all citations prior to January 2001 =
have been=20
destroyed."</P>
<P>Johnson faces two charges of defacement with sidewalk chalk. The =
second=20
charge, for writing in the gutter "Are we so mean-spirited that we would =
deny a=20
homeless person the right to sleep at night, to beg for food with a sign =
after=20
dark, to sit, or to cover up with a blanket?" involved Ms. Johnson's =
arrest,=20
handcuffing, booked, jailed, and $1000 bail for misdeanor vandalism. The =
charge=20
was reduced without explanation to an infraction, defacing the =
sidewalk.</P>
<P>The trial will be held in Department 1, 701 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz, =
Ca. near=20
the intersection of Water St. and Ocean St. at 10 AM. on February 14, =
2003</P>
<P align=3Dcenter>Photos of the chalkcrime arrest of Becky Johnson can =
be viewed=20
at http:/huffsantacruz.org/becky</P><B><I><FONT size=3D3>
<P align=3Dcenter>For more information: Call HUFF (831) 423-HUFF</P>
<P align=3Dcenter>Becky Johnson can be reached at (831) 429-8529</P>
<P align=3Dcenter>Attorney Ed Frey, who filed Becky Johnson and Tim =
Rinker's=20
appeal</P>
<P align=3Dcenter>can be reached at (831)=20
479-8911</B></I></FONT><BR><BR></P></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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