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Archive for April, 2007

(This is one partial account of the events this morning, please involve yourself and be an active participant in this struggle, read bottom for more information on community response )

Early this morning around 6am the Peoples Project Encampment located on D st. and 11th was raided by Police.

At least 25 Police Officers were present, at times many more than that, there were too many to count. There were officers from police units from all over the area including Arcata Police Department, Eureka Police Department, University Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Park Ranger, Fortuna Police, and Humboldt County Sheriffs. The peaceful encampment was disassembled by the police and the belongings of the encampment were confiscated by police.
Participants in the encampment gathered peacefully in a circle were then arrested and put in Police Wagons and taken to Euerka.
16 People Were Arrested.

One man went into a seizure while being arrested, some accounts say he may have been stunned with a tazer gun.
Police made no apparent effort to call an ambulance for the man, protestors themselves called an ambulance. There were many people protesting the action by the police and actively observing police conduct. Many of the encampment participants were handled violently while being arrested.

The encampment protest has been organized by People Project to reveal the crisis of persistent cruelty and human rights violations that houseless people face every day and every night in this community. The goal of the encampment protest is to generate community support for a free, people-run and eco-sustainable campground.

The encampment successfully and peacefully created a safe place to sleep and eat since Saturday April 21st, embracing an honor code of respect, accountability, peaceful relations and health. Park Ranger Bob Murphy facilitated the removable of a rented B&B company portable restroom removed from the site on Saturday, the first day of the encampment leaving the encampment with no restroom.

There is no free and legal place for people to sleep.

People who are poor, houseless, homeless, and denied a dignified place to rest are Criminalized by policies and police.

This is a continuing community crisis that deserves our compassion, time and energy to end these human rights violations against our brothers and sisters that live in our community and create real alternatives that support peoples right to life, right to sleep, and a right to be on our own public spaces.


City Council Meeting
Tonight
Wed. 4/25/07
7pm

Community Meeting
D st Community Center
Thursday 4/26/07
6pm

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Squiggy Rubio or Verbena, (707) 407-5017

Growing Encampment Protesting Human Rights Violations Against Houseless People

PEOPLE PROJECT Proposes Free, People-Run, Eco-Sustainable Campground

Thirty-five houseless people and supportive community members began a demonstration on city property, the lawn of the ‘neighborhood center’ on D Street in Arcata Saturday afternoon. Later that evening, the demonstrators set up tents to form an encampment where people have been dialoguing, skill-sharing and sharing food during the day and sleeping at night. By Monday many more people are participating in, visiting and supporting the encampment. Early Monday a banner was posted over highway 101: “It’s a Crime to Sleep Outside. Is that alright with you?”

The encampment protest has been organized by People Project to reveal the crisis of persistent cruelty and human rights violations that houseless people face every day and every night in this community. The goal of the encampment protest is to ultimately generate community support for a free, people-run and eco-sustainable campground.

Some of the signs displayed by protesters read: “Sleep Deprivation is Torture;” “Where Would Jesus Sleep?;” and “Dignity and Respect for All.” Houseless activist Charlie said “we are reclaiming this public space to inspire dialogue with others in the community about the need for a people-run, free, ecologically, sustainable campground.” “It is already meeting a concrete need for many by providing shelter, safety and food” he continued.

Over 200 people in the Arcata area, children, veterans, grandparents, elderly, activists, teens, babies are without available shelter or even a safe outside place to exist free of harassment.

One young man attested, “I got woke up by APD the other day. They arrested me and I was beat up for no reason. The next morning both my arms hurt like hell, and I have marks on my wrists from hand cuffs, and I had a bump on my head, and my nose was all broken.” Even when houseless people do not get beat up, they are rousted from sleep often between 2am and dusk and forced to hide someplace else or stay awake. These types of reports are common at People Project meetings where houseless and concerned people meet Tuesday nights. At meetings people eat, share stories, organize around human rights, support each other and create autonomous solutions.

People Project wants to be clear that the encampment action is not asking for money or “help” from government. “We have found that to be useless” said longtime People Project participant, reflecting on a history of local protest and articulated needs by houseless people and advocates in local government forums. Rather, with this action People Project seeks to connect with caring community members and strengthen the houseless community’s vision of a campground.

As the first protest signs went up on rainy Saturday, “Ranger Bob” Murphy of the Arcata Police Department arrived. Murphy is notorious for ambushing people sleeping in the forest and harassing houseless people and people that he profiles “transient” and homeless. He promptly ordered B & B Portable Toilets to remove the port-a-potty for which demonstrators had paid earlier that day. Not only is it criminal to sleep anywhere in Arcata, but in addition, there are NO public restrooms.

An interaction at the encampment with Arcata City council member Paul Pitino, involved discussion about the illegality of the city’s policies that target houseless people and fly in the face of the 9th Circuit Court’s ‘Jones’ decision in 2006. For a community that considers itself progressive, it seems unthinkable that there would be such an increasing number of poor and houseless people falling victim to constant harassment and violations.

 

People Project believes that if the real day and night truth is known by caring people in Arcata and surrounding areas, and if prejudices can be broken down through the encampment, compassion, cooperation, and dignitywill flourish in the area.

Encampment participants invite the public to stop by anytime, day or night, and support the camp and a future free, people-run, eco-sustainable campground.

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Our HONOR SYSTEM:

This Encampment Protest, valuing life, dignity, and community, embraces an HONOR SYSTEM.

This HONOR SYSTEM means that while we are here:

– All participants, for any length of time, are celebrated;
– We maintain a dignified atmosphere that is empowering to ourselves and each other;
– We act with the knowledge that the interest and goals of the encampment are ‘larger’ than our individual self-interests;
– We are accountable to one another and to the ‘group’;
– We use no violence, neither physical nor verbal;
– We carry no weapons;
– We request that participants refrain from using substances that compromise the encampment;
– We show respect for the land and for each other’s health and safety;
– We communicate the principles of the Honor System with people as they arrive.
– Here, we are embodying our highest self—each of us is a necessary and ‘perfect’ person.

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PEOPLE PROJECT is hosting a public temporary liberated space (an encampment placing the act of sleeping on public lands as the primary form of direct action) in the later half of April to generate community wide support for a free, people-run, eco-sustainable Campground. We invite housed people in our community to act in solidarity!

The liberated space IS the direct action…

Please stop by for lunch, dinner, open mike, music, discussion, games and other events. Your presence is critical!

PEOPLE PROJECT believes in the creativity of people supporting one another and solving problems and believes that a people-run Campground is a more effective strategy to support houseless people. A campground is one step toward reclaiming dignity, the right to sleep and ending the criminalization of houseless people.

In this action we hope to expose and share the deplorable local effects of policies, poverty, and the war on the poor that affect so many. Houseless people are women, men, babies, children, elderly, teens, veterans, and activists.

Time and Location of this liberated public space to be announced. To find out how you can support this action email peopleproject (a) riseup.net.

Also see Honor System and purpose of encampment – [view as pdf here]
Handbill calling for support of encampment – pdf

Also see updates on the liberated space (encampment) and press releases.

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