Saturday, June 11, 2011
Santa Cruz California lawyer Ed Frey jailed for protesting anti-homeless laws has had his bail (to allow for post-conviction appeals) reduced from $50,000 to $110. Other charges against co-defendant Gary Johnson dropped (21 counts). Johnson is still imprisoned for six months on a single protest conviction [More]"Leave no brother or sister behind enemy lines..." ~~POCC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee).
A protest is scheduled for Monday, June 13th 2011, on the Santa Cruz California County Courthouse steps beginning at 7:30AM and continuing until....
Let's start with a brief summary of events.
[Above: Pseudo-Legal Camping (to spend money) Cinema 9 Theater]
Note that sleeping in plain sight, even on your own property, is illegal in Santa Cruz.
[Above: Pseudo-Illegal Camping (to protest city policies) @ SC County Courthouse]
The PeaceCamp 2010 protest and sleep-in responding to the unavailability of shelter space for the droves unemployed and homeless people in Santa Cruz California began on the steps of the Santa Cruz County Court House on July 4 last year, eventually moved to Santa Cruz City Hall, and continued 24/7/365 until October 2, with the admonition by lawyer and organizer of the event Ed Frey's words:
"the struggle is now moving into the courts"In the Cabale News Service report for August 09 2010, yours truly wrote:
Sorry occifer! we don't have relatives in Oklahoma Kansas Georgia Tennessee like the po' folk did in the 30s.
Santa Cruz California Peacecamp2010 has been under siege over the weekend with dozens of Misdemeanor citations written and almost a dozen arrests. The camp's lawyer, Ed Frey, and other participants have been arrested for refusal to cooperate and sign the tickets, claiming the law they are being cited for is unconstitutional and invalid.
One man is on hunger strike and remains incarcerated until a Tuesday hearing.
One person was overheard telling the sheriffs involved in the raid: "Someone just got hit by a drunk driver... because you were here enforcing this unconstitutional law instead of patrolling the highways on Saturday night."
This correspondent saw the officer's shoulders rise with tension and one can only hope his 'dop kit' contains antacid.
The protest revolves around the apparent unconstitutionality of a total ban on sleeping outdoors, covered with a blanket, or in any manner, between the hours of 11pm and 8am anywhere within the city limits.
HOWEVER, to avoid testing the city of Santa Cruz' 'camping ban' ordinances, the law the arrestees are being cited for is California State Penal Code 647(e).
It is understood from sources that the Santa Cruz police department has refused to cooperate with the Santa Cruz Sheriffs in citing under their own 'ordinance' (not 'law'... 'ordinance').
California State Penal Code 647(e) is applicable to anyone...
...Who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it."This State Code implies that it's illegal to bed down (or perhaps even rest by the side of the road) anywhere in the state without domicile (housing) or a welcoming place to stay (the meaning of 'lodging' itself).
Put simply... without 'some place to go', it's apparently illegal to be "(any) place" in the state for any length of time (because one MUST rest or sleep).
[Santa Cruz lawyer Ed Frey forced to cooperate with arrest process]
It is a 'law' that should date back to slavery days when California was a 'free' state attempting to control the influx of escaped 'Nigras'. This law is eerily close to the "Vagrancy Laws" overturned or sun-setted since the 40s, except in the South where laws like this were used into the 1960s to control the movement of the African American U.S. citizens.
Funny thing... (but I'm not laughing) you'd think this law was probably last used extensively in California during the GREAT DEPRESSION of the 1930s, but in reality this law was added to the state's law books over the last few years...
There are more writings on the PeaceCamp 2010 protests in the August 06 2010, August 09 2010, August 12 2010, and August 25 2010 editions of the Cabale News Service Report. Also see the PeaceCamp 2010 tag @ Becky Johnson's One Woman Talking for more extensive reports, documents, and details, and this posting at Santa Cruz IndyMedia, where you can see the hatred exhibited by certain elements of the community, typically representing the business community rather than the average Santa Cruz citizen, towards their disenfranchised neighbors.
Now, to the issue at hand...
Becky Johnson, host of the blog "One Woman Talking" attended the trial of the PeaceCamp Six and it's aftermath.
(Santa Cruz California lawyer Ed Frey to Judge John Gallagher, Santa Cruz County Superior Court:)
"Where did you get the authority to claim the definition of illegal lodging included sleeping? It's not in the law itself. Opposing counsel cited two authorities, neither of which addressed sleeping as a criminal act. The defendants last August had no access to a definition of "lodging." The sheriff's who enforced it had no guidelines or definition to determine what "lodging" was. Only when we get to trial do we find that you, yourself provide that definition to the jury. Where did you get that definition? On what authority did you base it?"
"And how were the defendants last August supposed to know what "lodging" is? You, yourself said it is equivalent to sleeping. But where did you get that?"
"I got it from a dictionary," Gallagher admitted, so softly his words were barely audible. "And the defendants were warned first that they were illegally lodging."
[Click for larger image]
JURY FOREMAN: Personally I found it pretty crappy that it was clear that they were citing people as soon as they fell asleep. That was the one thing they were really going after.Frey was adamant about pressing this point. He had filed a motion to dismiss based on vagueness of PC 647 (e) at a January 21st hearing this year. At that hearing, DA Sara Dabkowski argued that a definition was not necessary since "everyone knows what "lodging" means. It is a common word that puts people on notice that they can't lodge, can't live, can't stay the night, can't sleep somewhere, can't set up roots somewhere if they don't have permission. So it's not unconstitutionally vague on its face as written." (A complete transcript of that hearing can be found here.)
Yet at trial, and against the objections of the defense, Judge John Gallagher introduced his own definition of "lodging".
Indeed, Gallagher's language, which he claims came from a dictionary, contains suspect language. He used the term "settled in" as an indication of illegal behavior.
There is legal precedent for this language. Article 13 of Indiana's 1851 Constitution stated
"No Negro or Mulatto shall come into, or settle in, the State, after the adoption of this Constitution."While PC 647 (e) does not prohibit blacks from coming into the State, it does condemn to jail any person found within the State boundaries who does not have some form of permission to to sleep, live, or spend the night. That means any person in the State of California can be arrested on sight if they can't prove they have permission to "live" somewhere.
This sounds little different than article 13 of the Indiana State Constitution of 1851.
Just substitute the word "homeless" for "Negro."
But the County of Santa Cruz, the County Sheriffs, City police, and the judges at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse have all decided that sleeping is a criminal act. They have decided that depriving homeless people of any right to sleep, any ability to sleep on either public or private property is the cornerstone of their policy to criminalize homelessness. And the jails are full of homeless people.
"I instructed correctly at trial that sleeping is part of the definition of lodging. And you can be punished for that conduct."DA DABKOWSKI moved on to the sentencing phase.
"We are asking for 400 hours of community service from Mr. Frey. People who worked at the County Building said they feared for their safety when they had to walk by people."Frey argued,
"We were expressing ourselves. The first amendment is the most valid right we have. 400 hours of labor for expressing ourselves? That's outrageous. I didn't even know there was a "lodging" law. We were there to protest the Sleeping Ban of the City. We were speaking on behalf of the poorest of the poor. 400 hours is outrageous. I won't serve them."
"Then I sentence you to 6 months in County Jail,"Gallagher announced, the maximum sentence possible under 647 (e). Frey asked to be released long enough so he could file an appeal.
"Okay. $50,000 bail!"
"I can't find it in any of the laws that were cited that you can't sleep. Go home tonight and sleep if you can, and let my words ring in your ears."Then Gallagher turned to Gary Johnson, who is homeless.
"Do you accept 400 hours of community service?"Gary Johnson and Ed Frey were handcuffed and led off to jail by County Sheriff's. A protest is scheduled for Monday, June 13th, on the County Courthouse steps beginning at 7:30AM and continuing until....
"I have more of a problem with the 3 years probation clause "obey all laws." I have to sleep. I can't go three years without sleeping."
"Are you turning down the conditions?"
"It's not that I won't. I can't. I have to sleep. I have to sleep tonight. Where can I go and legally sleep in the State of California?"
"Do you accept the 400 hours of Community service?"
"As a citizen and a patriot, I cannot."
"Okay. Then 6 months in the County Jail for you too. Report to jail next Friday at 3PM."
"But I have to sleep TONIGHT."
"Okay. You can sleep in jail. You will be remanded into custody at the end of this hearing."
In Full @ Becky Johnson's One Woman Talking
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