(FWD) San Diego: Mayor Golding unleashes gestapo

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Wed, 22 Jul 1998 06:49:03 -0700

---------forwarded message---------
How the City of San Diego "Broke up" the Homeless
Protest After Four Months

      by Anne Curo

      On Saturday morning, July 18, the City of
San Diego finally evicted the 200-plus homeless
demonstrators who had been keeping a protest vigil
in the City concourse since March 15. They did it
by threatening to take the pitiful bundles of
personal property homeless people must carry with
them at all times and arresting anyone who
remained with their property.

      At 6 am, protesters were wakened by a
special detail of about 25 to 30 uniformed police
officers handing out fliers. The fliers read, "It
is unlawful to place or leave personal property on
Public Property or Public Rights-of-Way. All
personal property must immediately be removed.
Failure to remove all property will result in that
property being removed and/or destroyed. Those
persons failing to remove their property after
being requested to do so are subject to arrest."

      A list of ordinance and statute sections
followed. Attached was a reprint of an obsolete
social services list.

      It took almost four hours for most of the
demonstrators to clear out with their bedrolls and
bundles. Many who wanted to remain were able to
store their belongings temporarily in vehicles
owned by activists.  Forrest and I had slept there
overnight. We packed our borrowed air mattresses
and blanket in the car and remained seated on our
pillows to observe and pray.

      On the afternoon before the eviction, a
woman had brought in a truck-load of her personal
possessions, including a filing cabinet and
credenza. On top of the credenza she had placed an
art project which her 11-year-old son had created.
Her son had been taken from her. Some of the
protestors blamed her for the sudden crackdown.
Everything she couldn't carry away was impounded.
The belongings of people who had left for jobs
before 6:00 am were also placed in the city van.

      No one was arrested at that time. Forrest
and I with our pillows were ignored. Media
reporters arrived in time to photograph the
proceedings. Many of the protestors were angry and
expressed their outrage to the press, but
there were no acts of violence.

      At a meeting with police and City Manager
representatives on Friday, July 16, five members
of the group had been assured that no action would
be taken without a 24-48-hour written notice. But
during an extensive videotaping exercise on
Wednesday, July 14 by police, a police officer had
told one of the demonstrators when asked, "We're
collecting evidence. On Friday you'll be out of
here." So some of us were not surprised.

      A small group of us remained all day with
our signs, outnumbered by watchful police. After
media reporters had left, we were told that
certain areas of the concourse would be
off-limits. A barrier was assembled around
the Civic Auditorium, where we were sitting with
our signs, delimiting a new "business zone" which
we were asked to leave.

It was explained that the coffee cart business
which is there only on week days owns the lease on
that property--almost one third of the plaza area
including most of the trees, benches and shade.
When we said that they were doing this because the
area had been a public forum where we were
protesting, the owner insisted that it was being
blocked off for cleaning. But that area was never
hosed down.

Neither was the area by the fountain where we
moved next. But a high-pressure water sprayer was
brought out, and we were told to move for
cleaning. We did, but only the top edges of the
fountain were sprayed while activist Roger Scott
danced around the stream. Then they told us they
would be cleaning the area we'd moved to, so we
returned to the fountain.

      All day Saturday, police closely monitored
the remaining protestors insisting that any time
someone got up to go to the restroom they must
take their pillow or sign with them. At about 4 pm
there was a change of shift.

The new police officers who arrived immediately
confronted some of the protestors whose property
was on the ground, insisting they keep everything
on their laps.

      A group of protestors remained through
Saturday night. They reported that police
continually harassed people about closing their
eyes while sitting up. (Lying down, of course, was
out of the question.) Rose told a police officer
she was meditating and was informed that she would
have to meditate with her eyes open or go

      On Sunday, Forrest and I took the day shift.
Several children who'd been visiting the reptile
exposition in Golden Hall hurt themselves by
attempting to hang on the barrier fence around the
"business zone." Later that day, we observed a car
pull up, park in a red zone, and unload five
pieces of baggage and a guitar on the sidewalk.
The property remained there for about an hour.

      I went up to a group of police officers who
were monitoring the protest and asked about that
property. I said I'd seen them remove the property
of protestors from the same area. Was it legal for
these people to store their baggage there? I was
told that it was OK. These were "professionals" in
the upcoming show "Miss Saigon" and were waiting
for someone to unlock the Civic Auditorium. I
asked them if this could be considered selective
enforcement, and they told me it was not.

      At about 5 pm, Roger Scott returned after
four hours of rest at the Street Light office,
refreshed and full of enthusiasm. I left shortly
afterward, tired and glad to see that replacements
were coming in.  A few minutes after I got home,
Forrest called and told me Roger had been
arrested. Several people witnessed the incident.

      Roger had set down a cheap plastic American
flag mounted on cardboard to get a drink of water
from a water jug. A cop immediately tried to
confiscate the flag. Roger objected and tried to
take hold of the flag. Four cops dragged Roger
around the corner behind the fountain out of
sight, but several protestors followed and watched
as police threw him to the ground, elbowed him,
handcuffed him, then demanded that he get up. When
he couldn't rise, they placed numchucks on his
upper arms and yanked him to his feet. The police
were yelling, "Stop resisting!"

      The next day, when we bailed him out, I
observed the bruises, scrapes and scabs on his
upper body, arms and face. His walk was slow, and
he said, "They hurt me." Forrest took him to a
hospital, because the jail had refused him medical
attention. But nothing was broken, not even his
spirit. He is charged with assault and battery and
resisting arrest. But none of the witnesses saw
him even try to lay a hand on any of the police

      (A camcorder would have been useful during
this incident and perhaps would have discouraged
the police from using excessive force. If anyone
would like to donate one to this protest contact
Street Light at 925 E Street, San Diego, CA

      What happened to the many homeless people
driven away from the concourse? Some moved their
gear to the Dancing Waters area, where a former
leader reportedly had told them they would not be
molested. But homeless informants tell us police
swept the area late Sunday night, arresting and
taking the bedding of many of them.

      Tuesday morning, from about 3:00 am to 6:00
am, there was a period when no protesters were
present at the concourse. Most of the signs, taken
to where people were camped outside a nearby
Scientology building, were confiscated when police
came that night. Police told people they could
have "one sign apiece," and took the rest.

      Roger and Rose, on their way to his
arraignment for "illegal camping" in protest,
found an 8 1/2 X 11 piece of cardboard and wrote
on it: "The protest lives." Others joined them
later with new signs, including activist
Larry Milligan, who has been fasting since Sunday
ight in response to the City's lies, lack of
compassion, and senseless intimidation of their
weakest citizens. Police still outnumber
protesters by roughly 2-to-1; we are exhausted and
can't always coordinate our shifts. But the
protest lives.

California Homeless Civil Rights Action Network:

Alert #4

Police Brutalize Homeless Protest Encampment
Hundreds Dispersed--Property Stolen

             The Issue: San Diego has no shelter
for half of its 5000 homeless people.  For 4
months, San Diego homeless calling themselves The
People's Establishment have been sleeping
peacefully in front of City Hall Concourse,
petitioning city leaders to provide shelter or
decriminalize some area for them to sleep without
fear of arrest.  The self-monitoring protest has
generated such a good reputation that police
officers themselves have brought women and elderly
men to the encampment, telling them it is a "safe
place" to be.

           The Protest: Mayor Susan Golding has
refused to respond to basic needs of  the San
Diego homeless, instead refusing to recognize
homeless speakers at the weekly City Council
meetings.  In response to police shooting of 3
homeless people in the greater San Diego within
the last 11 days, protesters marched to the San
Diego Police Department and issued a press release
in solidarity with the victims.  They also noted
that within the last 11 months, more than 15 San
Diegans had been the victim of police violence.

        The Crackdown:  In spite of promises that
there would be 24-48 hour warning before police
took action against the 300+ sleepers downtown,
police began driving away protesters on Saturday
July 18th by seizing homeless survival gear.  On
Sunday June 19th police arrested protest leader
Roger Scott for an American flag protest sign.
Scott was brutalized, jailed, denied medical
attention, and released after friends of the
protest raised $4000 bail.  A woman praying was
told that unless she opened her eyes, she would be


        What The Protesters Need:  The People's
Establishment  desperately needs lawyers legal
observers, assistance with publicity, access to
media, and office supporters.  Street Light editor
and writer Forest Curo has applied for an
Injunction to stop the police harassment, but
needs legal help.  Protesters also face
prosecution for peaceful occupation of the
Nimitz Naval Center  [Code Sec 11411 Sec B #2A
(i), (ii) Ident and Use of Surplus Fed Property
states priority be given to housing the homeless
in excess federal property such as closed military


Mayor Susan Golding, 202 C St., Suite 11A, San
Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-236-6330    Fax:  619-236-7228
E-mail: mayor@sdmayor.sannet.gov

        GO TO THE PRESS:  "More News about Those
in Need & the City without Pity!"

                Write a Letter to the Editor to
the San Diego Union-Tribune: P.O. Box 191, San
Diego  CA 92112-4106  Phone: 619-293-1847
Fax: 619-293-1440  E-mail:

Contact the News Department and ask them to cover
the protest!

        SUPPORT THE PROTESTERS:   "Stand Your
Ground!  We are Behind You!" Street Light, 935 E
St., San Diego CA 92101 (open M-Sat 9 AM-4 PM)
Phone: 619-338-9081   Fax:  619-338-8048
E-mail:  forest@cts.com

The Protest needs funds, LEGAL SUPPORT, ideas,
publicity, and bodies!

Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship &
Freedom)  309 Cedar #14B, Santa Cruz, CA
Phone: 408-423-4833  Fax: 408-429-8529   E-mail:


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Graeme Bacque
#14909975 on ICQ
*Question and challenge *all* human 'authority'*