Santa Monica squatters fought the law & won [Jennafer Waggoner]

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 10:06:40 -0700 (PDT)


FWD  CC Replies to JENNAFER WAGGONER <refugee@gte.net>

Subject: We fought the law and... we won!

The Flamingo Has Landed...

There are two very happy homeless activists in Santa Monica today.  The
City of Santa Monica agreed to drop the trespassing charges against
David Busch and Jennafer Waggoner, pending completion of 50 hours of
community service.  Several months of negotiations ended in a
lock-jaw-stand-still between the Santa Monica City Attorney's office and
the defense attorneys from the Lawyer's Guild and the Working People's
Law Center.  The over worked and under paid civil rights defenders had
to step out of proceedings that were becoming too time consuming because
of SM City Attorney Norm Wagner's erratic courtroom behavior, who
flushed a deal the activists had made in March.  The activists with
their attorney's consent, went pro per and challenged the City
Attorney's office with the City's record of human rights violations;
Commissioner Roberta Kyman stated that human rights were not in this
court's jurisdiction.

In a move that even Commissioner Kyman repremanded the City Attorney for
repeatedly, the City Attorney refused to meet with the activists in
pre-trial conference.  Commissioner Kyman stated for the record that
their actions were unusual and not according to court protocol, forcing
the pre trial negotiations to be heard in her presence.  When the
activists walked through the court chamber doors, they faced 6 months in
jail and $1,000 dollars in fines in relation to charges of trespassing
imposed on the activists for their non-violent action to save human
lives in the rains of November last year.  The activists rejected the
City Attorney's offer and made an offer of their own, which the court
accepted.   "We agreed to settle the case to save the citizens of this
community the unnecessary burden of watching the City humiliate itself
by prosecuting us for a crime they forced us to commit" commented David
Busch.

"Is it an irony that the charges are being dropped against us right now,
during a period where the cold wet weather shelters are again, in
unreliable operation?  They have been temporarily extended in phase 3
operation, which means they are usually closed when it rains and open
when no one knows about them.  The rains and cold wet weather season has
not yet left us and homeless people still have no legal place to go to
avoid suffering and citations in Santa Monica," asserted Waggoner.

Jennafer Waggoner recently received a letter from the Social Services
Commission asking her to resign or face an eviction by the Santa Monica
City Council.  Jennafer Waggoner is the only homeless person ever
elected to a city commission that reviews the funding of social services
funded by the City directed towards services for poor and homeless
people.  She feels that this retaliatory action was initiated by her
participation in the Flamingo Human Rights Campaign.  Jennafer also
alledges that the City Staff has repeatedly sabotaged her attendence by
resetting venues for commission meetings without notifying her and she
has on several occasions gone to the meetings and then told by Ken
Edwards Center staff that the meetings had been cancelled.  "It started
in November after the Flamingo Occupation, and it has happened so many
times, it can no longer be just an on-going mistake.  I now expect it.
I have received all my mail from Commissions I am not even on,
announcing meeting dates and times, for some reason, the meeting
announcements for the Social Services Commission never come.  I even
called the City numerous times to check my address, it was correct on
record every time."  She also asserts that a number of City
representatives have told her that she should bow out quietly and not
create a controversy.  She is told that such a controversy might muddy
the trail for current incumbents seeking council seats this next
election.

As for Jennafer's plans for community service, "It says on the volunteer
form that I can spend my community service hours doing administrative
work for the City.  I'm going to ask for the City's Human Services
Division (which coordinates funding for homeless services) and spend my
50 hours there.  I can't wait to see their faces when I walk in the
door."

David and Jennafer both left the courtroom to celebrate their victory by
joining Santa Monica College students in the weekly Food Not Bombs/Homes
Not Jails Outdoor Meal Distribution Program and served over 100 meals to
the homeless in Palisades Park.  The activists will be including this
latest round of confrontations with the City of Santa Monica as part of
their violations report being filed with the United Nations this year.

For more information:

Homes Not Jails/Food Not Bombs...   Santa Monica
Jennafer Waggoner (310) 289-7446                David Busch (310) 358-5916

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