SC Homeless hold sleep protest at City Hall


Homeless advocates feel it's a civil rights issue, and hope their presence activates change.

On Wednesday morning, Santa Cruz police cited one man for sleeping by the City Hall fountain. Regardless of protests by homeless advocate groups, the city is not holding back enforcing its overnight public sleeping ban.

"The one individual that we cited last night is also from out of the county. We're not exactly here to lay down the welcome mat to city hall for people that are here to blatantly ignore our local laws," Santa Cruz Police Spokesperson Zach Friend said.

Santa Cruz has had a no-camping ordinance on the books for at least 40 years now. It prohibits sleeping in public places from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

"This is absolutely ridiculous. I mean we need to sleep, every human being needs sleep. They want to punish us and make us criminals for sleeping?" homeless man Orbit said.

A group of homeless advocates who call themselves "Peace Camp 2010" have been camping on a patch of lawn outside the county courthouse since the 4th of July in protest of the sleep ban.

Sheriff's deputies eventually arrested nine people and issued 24 citations for illegal lodging and other violations. They say there's no other place to go.

"There is absolutely no room in the shelters. There's a waiting list that goes on for months," homeless man Red said.

"They're criminalizing us for something that we can't avoid and sleeping outside," homeless man Crow said.

For example, at the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center, there are 40 beds and there's currently a 10-day wait list. Protestors say they plan to stay outside City Hall until the ordinance is scrapped, or the city offers alternative solutions.

"What we need to establish is some sort of a safe zone, I mean that is common fairness. We learned it when we were kids playing tag for god's sake, there's always a safe spot. But if these stupid sleep wars in Santa Cruz are going to continue, then fine, we're up for the battle. But in the meantime, these people need some safe place to sleep," homeless advocate Christopher Doyon.

Not only do the homeless protestors want the law rescinded, but they're asking the city to forgive all illegal camping tickets ever issued. The city attorney can actually dismiss such citations, if there's proof that all available beds at the city's various shelters are full.

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