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Posts Tagged ‘Safe Ground’

Law Center’s Advocacy Creates International Pressure

February 06, 2012:  In an unprecedented letter to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the United Nations has delivered a clear message: by not providing sanitation and safe drinking water, the city is violating the human rights of homeless persons.

The letter, sent by UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque, cites targeted closings of public restrooms, decommissioning of water fountains, and a lack of other clean water sources as blatant violations.

Albuquerque visited Sacramento in February 2011, as part of a fact-finding mission organized by the Law Center and Sacramento-based Safe Ground and Legal Services of Northern California.  She heard direct testimony from homeless campers, who are forced to rely on makeshift privy systems to deal with privacy and human waste issues.

“The UN has delivered a powerful message: the U.S. doesn’t get a free pass on its human rights violations.  Sacramento must take immediate steps to address the needs of its homeless population, ” said Eric Tars, human rights program director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center).  “Access to water and sanitary facilities is one of the most fundamental of human rights — essential to everyone’s health, dignity, and continued life. ”

To read the full press release, click here.

To read the full letter to Mayor Johnson, click here.

To read the UN’s report, click here.

http://www.nlchp.org/news.cfm?id=178

The organization has a newsletter, free, online subscription.
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
www.nlchp.org  and WDC ph.  202-638-2535
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REPORTS from only three days!

May 6, 2010

This morning I was wakened from sleep at around 7 in the morning by four men in uniform, led by Sgt. Swithenbank.

I was sleeping under the Bear Gulch bridge.

They told me they were having complaints about “you people”.

I said I wasn’t “you people” but they said yes I was.

They gave me a white paper notice of trespass warning with the County of Humboldt and Swithenbank’s name on it.

They said I would be arrested if they found me sleeping anywhere.

They photographed me with a board with my name, first and last, and something else written on it. I objected briefly before being photographed but one officer pulled out his handcuffs and said “I’ve been waiting to use these”.

I then let them take my photograph.

I wear glasses, I was not able to see the officer’s names. I know Swithenbank by sight; the others I think are new to our area.

I think referring to anyone as “you people” is stereotyping or profiling.

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At about May 6, 2010 at about 7:30AM I was sleeping in my tent on the ridge north of Redway and I heard “you in the tent, come out”. I asked if I could put on my pants; he said no, come on out. I had long johns on so I stepped out.

I was surrounded by 8 officers, including a female.

The female was blonde and tall. The guy making demands was dark haired with a mustache and a chiseled, hawk like face. I did not get the names of the officers.

They asked what brought me to Humboldt County. I said “camping”. They said you’ve been camping for a while and I said I’d been ripped off by 3 companies and decided to live different.

They said I was trespassing on private property and asked me to produce my ID. I did. I had glass beer bottles containing water in my tent; I use glass bottles because they are safer and chemicals don’t leach into my water. They said “you’ve got your 40” and I told them it was water. Are you sure you aren’t making moonshine he asked. I was reaching in to get one of my water bottles and he yelled “hey, get out of there, you might have a gun”

I said “no, no, nothing like that”.

He said “Stand up, we’re gonna take your picture” They put a board with my name in front of me. One of the officers made a joke about my morning hair looking like a rooster and another officer said it was the best photo of the morning.

They gave me a white piece of paper and told me “If you’re here again it will be a fine. You have an hour to get out of here”. I told them it might take a little while longer.

They tazed someone the other day. I didn’t want to provoke them, there were 8 of them, and one of me and I was alone in the woods.

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From an Iraq veteran.

On May 6, 2010, yesterday, about 0700 me and my girl were already awake after staying up all night watching shooting stars on the hill a little north of Garberville. Swithenbank and his officers came out and gave us papers and teased us about being a couple. We had no garbage there, nothing, the camp was clean. There were 4 or 6 officers and animal control, they seem to want to just take the things homeless people have, and their dogs, and everything.

They ran our names to see if we had warrants. I don’t understand why they took my picture.

I’ve been cleaning up this town for years; they need to stop harassing us. I have a fiancé, I’m trying to keep things together.

They said we can’t camp down by the river either. They didn’t tell us where we could go.

I grew up around here and Redding, I was part of a homeschooled family. My grandpa died and I was left homeless.

I’m trying to start my life again.

Two years ago I got laid off 9 times; I was doing jobs I never did before, like welding.

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from Vietnam era vet:

On May 6, 2010 at about 10AM I was sitting in my chair drinking a cup of coffee, enjoying the quiet morning. My cat alerted me that intruders were coming. Four deputies walked up into my camp. I saw them first, I said “good morning, how’s it going”. They asked if I had any ID. We don’t know if you are America’s top ten wanted, please have a seat (on the poison oak). They ran my name and told me I was camping illegally on private property and told me I was being issued a trespassing/littering notice. And that I should leave as soon as possible.

I told Swithenbank it would take me at least 24 hours to get things together (which I did, but I have to go back to get my cat).

They took my picture with a board in front of me with my name, as if I were a criminal.

They said they would come back and would be checking. If I were still here they would “have to take appropriate action”

One cop asked if I was on drugs like heroin or meth. I said no.
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9 Contacts from the raids on the homeless in SoHum
May 6, 2010 from 7AM till around 1PM

-Man at Bear Creek Gulch (just north of Garberville) contacted by cops with Sgt Swithenbank. Cops took picture, issued warning. Land owner Humboldt County (aka public property)

-Man at Redwood Drive by Bear Creek Bridge contacted by cops w/Swithenbank. Took picture, issued warning. Land owner Humboldt County(aka public property).

-Man Contacted by cops under Bear Creek Bridge, took picture. He’s from out of state: Swithenbank told him “to leave Humboldt county and if they come back he would go to jail”

-Young man contacted by cops at Bear Gulch. Cops took picture. Gave warning.

-Young man contacted by cops. Took picture, gave written warning.

-Man contacted by cops. Cops took picture, given warning.

-Woman contacted by cops at 10:45 AM. Cops took picture, gave warning. Contact was behind Blue Star Gas
(north of Garberville, near the freeway). Cited for no rabies tag on dog. Officer C. Nikolaus #99704. Cops were very rude.

-Young man contacted by cops behind Blue Star Gas. Cops took picture, issued warning.

-Man contacted by cops at Raven’s Cliff (Redway, above the river). Cops took picture, issued warning.
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Woman who was born in this area. Her boyfriend used to work for John Casali.

On Friday May 7, 2010 early in the morning around 6:30 we were in our tent about a quarter mile out of town (Redway). Police approached us and told us to get out of the tent. We did. They asked for our ID’s and our names. They said “We’re taking your pictures” and they wrote our names and dates of birth on paper on a clipboard and held it in front of us and took pictures. They did not ask our permission to take photographs of us.

They gave us a paper saying we were trespassing and that we should move immediately. They cited me for having a dog without a rabies tag even though I had mailed in my papers to get the tag.

We moved down to the other side of the road, to the bridge near Dean Creek.

Hamilton came by on Saturday, gave us till 9 AM Sunday to move and told us he was arresting us, but releasing us at the scene. Tresspassing and littering is what it says on the ticket, although we were not at the same location as we had been and were not littering.

Hamilton came on Sunday and gave us till 1 PM to move.

I get my food stamps here, and counseling, I was in a house
in Myers Flat for 4 years but now I am in a tent. I have no place else to go. I was born in Humboldt County. I feel I am being pushed from my home. I have Cherokee in me.

We keep our camps clean.
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Ticket issued today, May 8, 2010 by Sheriff Deputy Hamilton for trespassing and littering. However, the circumstances were that the guy returned to the river bank with a few friends to have lunch there. There is a firepit; they were heating their lunch. They informed Hamilton they were just there for lunch, not to stay, but he said they’d been warned.

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more from May 8, 2010:

1) Man contacted by cops. Picture taken, warning given. He was on Public Land

2) Woman contacted by cops on public land. Picture taken.
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LIVE FROM TENT CITY

Real Life, Take One.

Watch Costa Mantis‘ videos from Sacramento’s Safe Ground movement: http://livefromtentcity.com/blog/

Here is a link to video (by Costa Mantis) from PEOPLE PROJECT’s Safe Sleeping Space on the City Hall Parking lot (Nov, Dec 2009), raided by the City of Eureka and EPD on the 33rd night: https://peopleproject.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/we-need-some-safe-ground-in-eureka/

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