Posts Tagged ‘civil rights violation’

NOVEMBER 3, 2010


This letter is a reminder that I am still entitled to the documents requested in my June 2008 Public Records Request and that the HCSD continues to have a legal obligation to preserve documents material to this request until inspection as requested has been completed and all disputes regarding the availability and production of documents have been finally resolved. Please reference the June 2008 Request to be sure that the HCSD preserves what is mandated by law pursuant to my Request.

As a reminder, the purpose of my request is threefold:
1) to permit public scrutiny of the HCSD customs, practices, and procedures material to contact with homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks;
2) to permit public scrutiny of the specific actions of HCSD in the Garberville/Redway area in relation to homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks, and;
3) to evaluate the need for additional training, guidance, oversight, and monitoring regarding HCSD interactions with homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks to prevent the violation of said peoples’ rights (rights established by law, by the California and United States Constitutions, and by international treatises).

Due to the HCSD’s initial and now long-time refusal to comply with the request, and due to the HCSD’s increased and escalated activities related to and against homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and people sitting on public sidewalks, the records that the HCSD is now required to produce responsive to my June 2008 Request have increased exponentially.

To see the letter in its entirety, CLICK HERE

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Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department Refuses to Comply with California Public Records Request

In 2008, while Sheriff’s made nasty raids of houseless peoples’ camps in Southern Humboldt and attacked houseless and travelling people in the day (for “crimes” like sitting under shade trees during record heat) a Southern Humboldt resident made a CA Public Records Request.

Click on the title link above to read some of the background and see the documents.

Because the Sheriff’s Dept. has failed to comply with the request, it has dragged on to now. Now that Humboldt Sheriff’s Officers are doing STREET SWEEPS and CHECKPOINTS FOR LOCAL ID (with none, you’re run out of town or arrested), they are going to have to give up lots more info in response to the request about what they are doing to people. If they don’t give it up soon, it’s going to court.

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This is an Invite and Call To Action!

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Peace Protesters Call for an End to the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban

Since July 4th, a couple dozen people have been protesting the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban by camping each night from 8pm – 8am at the County Courthouse. Organizer Ed Frey says that the demonstration aims to “convince local and national government to stop breaching the peace, especially that of peaceful sleepers, and to instead use resources to discourage violence and warfare in all its forms.”

Indybay contributor Skidmark Bob spoke with Ed Frey, Robert Norse, and other campers who are participating in the civil disobedience in violation of the City of Santa Cruz Sleeping and Camping Ban, officially known as M.C. 6.36.010.


4th July 2010 Sleepout/Camping Ban Vigil at S.C. County Bldg. | Santa Cruz Courthouse Sleepout Day 3 |Free the Land on Peace Camp Night 3

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The word is that raids will begin on Monday, July 19th. Cops hunt down outside-sleeping people every night, but these raids will be broad-sweeping and perhaps more orchestrated.

These raids will violate the rights of the houseless people. There are no legal, free-of-charge places to sleep in Eureka (or Arcata), so there are no options for almost all people who have no shelter except to sleep where they can find a hidden piece of ground. Then ya gotta be able to protect yourself from the rain, wind, cold, dew.

This is not a new situation. But all too often, people who are housed dismiss the reality of the situation by simply saying, “Well, there are homeless shelters for them to go to.” That is completely INACCURATE.

All of us need to sleep. That is a NECESSITY. And even the crooked, ruled by the rich courts of the U.S. say that because none of us can go without sleep, it is more of a “significant evil” to deprive a person of sleep (as do the laws against sleeping on public property and the cops who wake people up) than to break a law that prohibits you from sleeping. When someone is punished for something- like sleep- which they cannot go without, it is (here’s the court again) “cruel and unusual punishment.” I would also call it discrimination. And the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, among other things completely defied by policies throughout the U.S. :

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of oneself and of one’s family, including food, clothing,
housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to
security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond one’s control.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 25, Section (1)

So, if you’re a person who still needs to see something in the “law books” to really believe it’s legitimate, there is plenty to support that people have a right to sleep, even when they don’t pay rent somewhere. And if there are no available options besides a small piece of Earth (or a doorway, or a dumpster or a person’s own vehicle), people are to be left alone.

These raids of sleeping people violate a bunch of human and Constitutional rights, including the right to privacy, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, etc. When cops (or John Shelter in Eureka or John Cassali in SoHum) steal and/or destroy peoples’ property, it doesn’t matter what they want to call it- “cleaning up”, “helping out”, “warning” -it is illegal. It is stealing. It’s cruel. It ain’t right.

Another thing that happens during these raids (and any random night): When the cops approach someone sleeping (how scary, huh?), they not only wake the person up (say 3:30am, flashlight in the eyes, hand on the gunbelt), but they often physically hurt the person. Cops slash tents, kick people in the ribs, threaten people with guns, pull folks out of their vehicles, grab people’s arms so hard they bruise, bang on windows, tow away someone’s only private space… It IS really that bad.

Every Saturday there are PEOPLE PROJECT meetings at PARC [Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community] at 1:30pm. These are spaces where we can figure out how we will fight this painful and ongoing injustice.

Please contact PEOPLE PROJECT if you want to do something about this upcoming raid situation. (707) 442-7465

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So today (July 14th) the Mateel meal was held at the Vet’s park across the street from the bookstore in Garberville(because the Mateel kitchen staff is down at the reggae site). Police (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept) arrived and told people that the Veteran’s have said they don’t want anyone sitting in the park, that they want it cleared out. People asked where they could go and there were no places. Police said they will arrest people who are sitting in town anywhere.

One of the people who cooks the Mateel meal reported that when she asked Deputy Ken Swithenbank where people could EAT, he responded, “They can go a day without food.”

A call was made by a caring resident (and business owner) in the area about the cops’ Vet’s Hall claim. The call went to Brian Ormond, who is supposedly the vet in charge, but he is out of town till Monday.

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An Open Letter to a Mayor Reluctant to Decriminalize Homelessness



Last week, criminalization of the homeless in Boulder, Colorado got the attention of End Homelessness readers as grassroots activists fought to put an end to a camping ordinance that unfairly targets the homeless. Thanks to Change.org readers and a protest organized by the homeless and their supporters, Mayor Susan Osborne agreed to make camping tickets a priority. She also ordered her city manager to write up an emergency moratorium on camping tickets. It looked like a victory. But politics being what they are, Mayor Osborne backslid. The following is an open letter to Mayor Osborne.

Sign our petition to keep the pressure on Boulder’s leadership.

Dear Mayor Osborne,

I’m writing to you because we want the same things. We share this little city and want it to be a safe place for everyone, both the homeless and the housed, those alone on the streets and those at home with families, the wealthy and the not-so-much, small business owners and the unemployed. I write to you as a friend because I know we share a desire to end criminalization of the homeless in Boulder and uphold the human rights of every single citizen. That’s why you became mayor; that’s why I write about and work with the homeless.

I read this weekend in the local paper that you felt “boxed in” by petitioners and protesters at the Boulder city council meeting last Tuesday. You said this pressure was largely the reason you promised to consider an emergency ordinance putting a temporary halt to ticketing homeless people for sleeping in public places.

Now it looks as if you’ve rescinded that promise, citing the need to reconsider without the interference of a public meeting or the review of the citizens who elected you. The paper made it sound as if you only agreed to stop punishing the homeless because you were intimidated by all the protesters. That’s disappointing, because it’s exactly the opposite of what our grassroots coalition hoped to do. The point was to convince, not coerce. And now it sounds as if you believe we twisted your arm.

Rather than intimidating you, we hoped to inspire you with the possibility of creating a city that does not punish those who don’t have homes. We hoped to appeal to not just your sentiment to do the right thing and end criminalization of the homeless in Boulder, but to your sound judgment as well, based overwhelming evidence that anti-homeless laws are bad policy.

It seems more likely to me that you were influenced by other stakeholders who expressed fear about the possibility of seeing a tent city spring up in a town known for its beauty and affluence. People are scared. I know. I’ve heard parents who have never interacted with a homeless person argue against allowing space for them to camp without harassment because they’re afraid it might lead to a city where children aren’t safe to play. But we both know that letting fear dictate policy is not the answer.

Widespread economic volatility creates difficult situations for a small community with disparate needs. Families need to feel comfortable. But to punish the city’s dispossessed with cruel and unconstitutional laws is cutting corners in the effort to make our community a better place for everyone. Alienating a marginalized group through discriminatory laws hurts more people than it intends to help. What’s more, and this is what saddens me the most, it creates unnecessary class conflict in a town once known for its progressiveness.

As the fight over Boulder’s mistreatment of the homeless continues, people all over the world have come to know about it. The shame of this fact is an eyesore uglier than any encampment. The ACLU agrees. In addition to bad publicity, hundreds of people have protested the city’s willingness to punish the homeless for not having a home. Concerned citizens from Boulder to Lisbon have written you with two requests:

1) Suspend what’s become known as the camping ticket ordinance.

2) Hold a transparent meeting with leaders from grassroots organizations like H.O.M.E., the Homeless Ordinance Moratorium Endeavor, who have already submitted to you alternatives to the current law.

Of course homelessness is much larger than this small ordinance. Anyone could get lost in the issue. It’s maddening to tackle. But this is something we can do to address the suffering of our city’s most vulnerable. Please join me in fighting for our city and its integrity.


Noah Jennings

Photo credit: Marty Caivano/The Daily Camera


Related Action
Tell the City of Boulder to Stop Punishing the Homeless

Sign our petition to keep the pressure on Boulder’s leadership.

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