USA: West Coast Homeless Rights Update (POST fwd)

Tom Boland (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 15:58:52 -0400

FWD via (Becky Johnson)

West Coast Civil Rights Round-Up
for December Street Sheet

Santa Barbara
        Writer and civil rights activist Peter Marin reports that after
Sit-Down protesters successfully challenged the State Street Sitting Ban
last fall (by pushing legal challenges which the City Attorney refused to
take to Court), poor folks are sitting down again on the "forbidden"
sidewalk in spite of the anti-homeless law.
        In mid-October a new group of young homeless activists approached
City Council and put on its agenda the repeal of the City's Sleeping Ban.
To people's surprise, two of seven on the Council sent the issue to the
city staff for further investigation.  Merchants, petrified at the
prospects of homeless winter shelter facilities two blocks from downtown
have ponied up money to stash the homeless in the Armory again.  To help
the civil right struggle there, contact Sty-in-Their-Eye Sy at

        Free Radio Berkeley--the flagship station of the microbroadcasting
movement--resumed broadcasting on November 23rd--returning homeless and
poor voices to the airwaves.  "Mean" Shirley Dean, reelected Mayor in a
campaign that scapegoated the young and the homeless, using old bad laws to
criminalize both groups on Telegraph Avenue.   A vicious, cynical, and
manipulative use of the Drug  Laws has jailed over 80 in Santa Rita for
small-time sales of grass on felony charges with the sole purpose of
"disappearing undesirables" from the downtown.   Stop by Jackhammer John
Vance''s table at Telegraph and Haste or give him a call at the First
Amendment Center:   5 p.m.   510-287-9406.    Coming December 12=15 and
December 19-23, Holiday Crafts Fairs on Telegraph.   Add some color to the
grim grey December days.

Santa Cruz
        In spite of a letter apology from the police chief for falsely
citing a Street Spirit vendor downtown, SCPD streetstalker "Grimgrip"
Garner brutalized and arrested activist Steve Argue for selling the same
paper downtown.  Argue was arrested the same day his photo appeared in the
paper as an organizer of the successful rally against police violence,
commemorating the cover-uped slaying of homeless activist "Happy John" Dine
a year ago. Other armed homeless-hasslers have intensified their attacks on
the poor, with mass ticketing of houseless hackeysackers, peaceful
panhandlers, and bayside bicyclists.
        All three new City Council members, though on record denouncing the
"go to sleep, go to jail" laws, by Thanksgiving made no clear proposals to
decriminalize 500-1500 homeless people with no legal place at night
(maximum emergency shelter space: 220).   Homeless United for Friendship &
Freedom (HUFF) announced "Shame the Shopkeepers" protests from Thanksgiving
to Christmas on downtown Pacific Avenue to "punish prejudice with a punch
in the pocketbook".   They are also inviting San Francisco's Biotic Bakery
Brigade to throw cookery workshops in hopes of creating a better pie to
present to pontificating politicians who talk compassion, but pratice a
politics of exclusion. that  leaves the homeless shivering.   Join  the
plucky protesters at  831-423-4833.

Eugene, OR
        Merchant pressure ended legalized sleeping in vehicles on August
10th, sun setting a landmark  liberal law which decriminalized vehicular
homeless sleeping in industrial zones.   Vehicular sleepers remained
decrimnalized on private property with owner permission, gained 14
city-mandated (and Portapotty equipped) parking/sleeping spaces on public
property, and successfully appealed to merchants and charities to offer
enough spaces to peacefully and legally relocate many urban
        Eugene also funded a "facilitator" to act as buffer between campers
and complainants.  The bad news--for repeat violators:  $500 fine, 10 days
in jail,  and an impounded vehicle.   These are  new harsher penalties for
"unlawful sleeping."   Meanwhile folks not in vehicles have no legal places
to sleep outside at all.  Fight back and find out how.  Contact  Homeless
Action Coalition activist Tom Musselwhite, who also edits 'Oikos--the
Eugene street paper--at 541-687-2438.

Portland, OR
        In early September the Campaign for Legal Places to Sleep presented
support from seven churches and 8200 resident signatures in support of the
CLPS proposal to suspend or repeal the City's anti-camping law [Ordinance
#14.08.250], which bars sleeping in one's own car, a tent in a friend's
backyard, a public park, or a sidewalk.  CLPS  also proposed on a one year
trial basis--five camps for homeless people, serving different populations,
utilizing vacant lots, and maintained by the campers themselves.
        Mayor Katz rather brusquely rejected the proposal, prompting CLPS
hit the streets in protest in early November and plans a renewed campaign
in Easter.  For more info contact Sharon Pearson, who formerly edited the
homeless-run, written, and distributed Burnside Cadillac (now called Street
Roots), at 503-224-3212.

California Homeless Civil Rights Home Page is still   Go to your local library; use their
free computer services.  Tell us and all the world what's happening in your
berg by posting on the page and e-mailing Bathrobespierre Robert at  for next month's Street Sheet.
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