Today, Friday, January 8, 2010, Verbena won the case which arose from her arrest at the City Hall Safe Sleeping Space/protest! There are lots of important issues that need to be addressed related to the huge police action at City Hall on December 6, 2009. We (PEOPLE PROJECT) will post something in detail about them soon.
About the court victory….
At first, the DA charged Verbena with three misdemeanors (trespass, camping, and resisting), but then the DA chose to scrap those charges and accuse her of an infraction trespass. The trial involved testimony from: Eureka City Manager, David Tyson; Eureka Police Department’s own Patriarch of Corruption, Murl Harpham; and a woman who works in personnel at City Hall.
A highlight (of sorts) was the last question to Harpham:
He admitted that there is NO place where people (who cannot pay) may sleep without being subject to Eureka Municipal codes.
Here’s a few more quotes from Murl Harpham from the Times-Standard (Sept 3, 08)article: Humboldt authorities combat transient camps: http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_10369336:
“The solution is “just to make it uncomfortable here for them.” …
…At least twice a week, he [Harpham] said, officers sweep homeless camps. But without any place to move to, the camp’s residents are forced to find another space to set up camp. …
“We just keep moving them around.” …
After a complaint is issued, Harpham said Eureka officers respond to tell the trespassers to leave. Their information is reviewed in a database, and if they are repeat offenders, they are either arrested or cited.
[“repeat offenders” are “repeat sleepers”?]
Below is quoted from published California Appellate Court Opinion:
Sleep is a physiological need, not an option for humans. It is common knowledge that loss of sleep produces a host of physical and mental problems (mood irritability, energy drain and low motivation, slow reaction time, inability to concentrate and process information). Certainly, no one would suggest that a groggy truck driver who stops his rig on the side of a road rather than risk falling asleep at the wheel does not act to prevent a significant evil, i.e., harm to himself and others.
Indeed, Judge Margines had denied Eichorn’s request for funds to hire an expert to testify about the harmful effects of sleep loss: “I mean it doesn’t take an expert to tell us that, to convince a person, that there are ill effects that arise from sleep [deprivation].”