Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

LOCAL Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

On Human Rights Day Tony Madrigal still talks-the-talk but will not walk-the-walk of human rights for the poor.

Sleep is a Crime in Santa Cruz
Ask Tony Madrigal Why ?
Sleep is a Crime in Santa Cruz
Ask Tony Madrigal Why ?

The City’s Sleeping Ban law--MC 6.36.010a affects 1500-2000 homeless, only 160 of which have any emergency shelter tonight. The rest face $90* fines, midnight wake-ups in freezing weather, police searches, jail & an arrest record for failure to appear in court, & dispersal from the safety of sleeping in groups. Santa Cruz law sets impossible conditions for those outside (no sleep or covering up with blankets 11 PM – 8:30 AM on any public property).

While running for office in 2004, Councilmember Tony Madrigal committed himself to reexamining this anti-homeless law. After one public meeting on the issue with the Human Rights Organization, Madrigal refused to state his position on the law. He declined to sponsor or support even minor modifications of the law (such as allowing a family in a vehicle to sleep more than three nights in a private driveway with the owner’s permission per month). When the audio tape showing his contradictory position was played on Free Radio Santa Cruz, he declined to meet with the HRO again.

Madrigal’s response when the issue is raised publicly is to shake hands, smile, and hurry on to the next subject. With winter weather setting in and the death toll rising, there is one last City Council meeting (Tuesday December 13) at 3 PM. Mayor Mathews has eliminated the evening session, set the only public comment period at a time uncertain, and plans no second session in December to address the Human Rights crisis for the homeless, particularly painful during the winter. Madrigal has taken no action here either.

If Madrigal opposes torture, let him take some action where he has the power to do so: How about public hearings on SCPD use of tasers, a suspension of the SCPD drug war which fills our County jail, and an emergency suspension of the Sleeping Ban over the winter? How about a “just eviction? protection law defending renters?

Call Madrigal at 420-5028 and ask him to call back with some answers.

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On fines for sleeping

The text of MC 6.36.010a specifies a $20 fine.

In 1999 when City Council initiated the current fine, the $20 fine was actually a $54 fine because of county and state add-on's.

As of this year the fine was increased to $90 (more county and state add-on's), which is the amount of "bail" a victim can pay to avoid going to court.

Rotkin and Madrigal have expressed no interest in restoring the fine, even to its 1999 level.

Of course, taxing survival sleeping at $90 a night is another way of saying "hide out or get out".

How successful have you been at building coalitions?

I know this has been an issue you've been working on for awhile. Since Madrigal isn't a majority, I'm wondering if you are reaching out to other council members. Madrigal has no power to go it alone. Are you getting any other council members support?

Based on this article, it seems to me that you are striking at the only council person who made it a point to speak at a human rights day event. Why are you criticizing him for doing that?

If you really want to end the sleeping ban, start getting support from other council members. Also, do you have a plan to address the problem of tourists who want to camp for free vs. legitimate homeless who really need a place to lay their head? I think that is the biggest issue stopping the progression of this issue. If you had a plan, that would help your cause a lot.

Madrigal Doesn't Even Talk The Talk

The anonymous poster says, "Since Madrigal isn't a majority, I'm wondering if you are reaching out to other council members."

Actually Madrigal is a member of the unanimous majority on the City Council that supports the sleeping ban.

As far as reaching out to these politicians on homeless rights, that is about as useful as reaching out to Bush about peace or reaching out to Adolf Hitler about the rights of Jews.

The local oppressive and anti-poor government bases its power on the propaganda of corporate newspapers, donations from the wealthy, police oppression, and the illusions that many on the left have in them.

Telling the truth and breaking people's illusions in the likes of Madrigal, Rotkin, et al is the first step towards pressuring them into doing anything for people as well as in overthrowing them.


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