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LOCAL Announcement :: Civil & Human Rights

Discrimination Against the Poor Targeted Outside Borders Today

The National Coalition for the Homeless has released it's annual report documenting hate crimes against the homeless. HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) will be on the sidewalk at Pacific and Soquel at 12:30 p.m. today (Wednesday June 16th) petitioning and protesting. Borders Book store makes available the homeless-mutilating-and-torturing video Bumfights. No thanks. Come on down.
PROTEST AT BORDERS BOOKS

Disturbing reports on Hate Crimes against people experiencing homelessness

Sponsored by Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 2004 12:30PM TO 1:30PM

On Pacific Ave. at Soquel Ave.


Santa Cruz, Ca. --- The National Coalition for the Homeless has released its report "Hate,Violence and Death on Main Street USA: A Report on Hate Crimes and Violence
Against People Experiencing Homelessness," which following a five-year study documents a
disturbing rise in hate crimes against homeless people in the United States. (for a complete copy of the report go to: www.nationalhomeless.org/hatecrimes).

It is not surprising that gangs of young people and certain deranged individuals are moved to attack homeless people given the encouragement
they receive from businesses, the police, and government officials.

In Santa Cruz, Public officials continue to report the nighttime criminalization of SLEEPING
in Santa Cruz. The anti-homeless SLEEPING BAN gives license to neighborhood bigots to engage in nighttime vigilante fear and pressure tactics against homeless families whose only shelter is their vehicle. Retired police Deputy Chief Joe Haebe has been videod rousting homeless people on the West Side regularly. In a city with shelter for less than 40 of its 1500 to 2000 homeless people each night, Haebe and others attack those who can only afford to live in a car.

Sometimes shamelesslessly referred as UTE's or Undesirable Transient Elements, people experiencing homelessness are regularly dehumanized. It is a well-known fact that in order to encourage violence against people, its necessary to first de-humanize them.

A recent Steven Decinzo cartoon appearing in Metro Santa Cruz talked about ettiquette on Pacific Ave. and depicted homeless people as unwashed, drunk, on drugs, and too lazy to look for a job.

City Parks and Recreation has restriped the parking lot and inserted blocking logs at Lighthouse Field to exclude camper vehicles during the day to exclude "UTEs".

BORDERS BOOKS DISCRIMINATES AGAINST HOMELESS PEOPLE

Borders Books at Pacific and Soquel Avenues made no protest recently when a change machine was installed on the public sidewalk in front of their store as part of the Redevelopment Agency's downtown gentrification agenda to remove homeless and young people from the adjoining public sidewalk. A municipal ordinance, one the toughest in the nation, prohibits sitting on the sidewalk within 50 feet of a change machine. It is also illegal to silently hold a sign asking for food
in the 50' "forbidden zone".

Borders Books in Santa Cruz is one of the only chain stores which does not provide a bathroom to its customers --- again in a policy whose purpose is to discourage homeless people from shopping at their store. Initially friendlier to homeless people to "blend in" with the Santa Cruz scene, the store has removed most of the comfortable reading chairs, and has a security manager regularly prowling the store.

John Maurer, a longtime local homeless man, was ordered by a manager to leave when he spent too long reading a book in the bookstore. The manager told him he "was basically stealing"

Border's Books stores across the country continues to market Bum Fights 1 & 2, Bum Hunts, and Bumshow.com despite pleas by the NCH to stop selling these exploitive films. We at HUFF
believe these films contribute to the de-humanization of homeless people and lead to incitement and violence against them. We urge the managers of Borders Books Santa Cruz to contact the distributor and urge them to stop carrying these titles.

The Santa Cruz Borders Books does not carry these titles on its shelves, but was readily willing to acquire them when asked to do so by a HUFF member, posing as a consumer of hate films.


HATE CRIMES AGAINST HOMELESS PEOPLE IN SANTA CRUZ

--- Lee, a 15-year old homeless youth, was recently handcuffed, held in a pain compliance hold, and arrested for dropping one (1) toothpick on the sidewalk after he confronted police about their abusive treatment of the group in front of Borders Books. The police cited him for littering,
searched him without his consent, cited him further for possessing cigarettes, then left, leaving the toothpick on the sidewalk.

--- a homeless man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was beaten with baseball bats by young men while he slept out of doors in a sleeping bag several weeks ago.

--- a recent rash of vehicle fires burned several vehicles that appeared to be sheltering homeless people.

JUDGE STEVENS SENTENCES A TWICE-CONVICTED DRUNK DRIVER TO PROBATION FOR KILLING HOMELESS MAN

--- in the recent case of Arturo Reyes Villalobos who was driving on a suspended license from a previous DUI, with twice the legal limit for alcohol in his bloodstream, and who killed
Pasqual Bramasco, a homeless man pushing a shopping cart and then FLED THE SCENE. Though convicted of vehicular manslaughter and fleeing the scene of an accident, Judge Samuel Stevens sentenced Villalobos to NO JAIL TIME.

This kind of differential justice sends a message loud and clear that a homeless person's life is worth less than that of a housed persons.


HUFF asks for you to:

(1) Call the Santa Cruz City Council at (831) 420-5020 and demand they support endorsement of the Bring America Home Act, which Mayor Scott Kennedy
abruptly removed from the agenda last April.

(2) Support the right of all members of the community to use public spaces. Call Steve Hammack of Parks and Recreation to 420-5270 to demand the City restore benches and fenced-off seating space made "homeless-free" and restore parking space for all vehicles in the Lighthouse Field parking lots.

(3) Contact Police Chief Howard Skerry at 420-5810 and demand he rein in harassment raids by ex-Deputy Chief Joe Haebe and others against homeless
families in their vehicles at night.

(3) Witness and protest police harassment when you see it happening in Santa Cruz. Go to santacruzcopwatch.org for more information. Or call (831) 621-1726.

(4) Don't patronize businesses that encourage "hate" legislation like the City's Sleeping Ban, the Sitting Ban, the Sparechanging Ban, and the other "bums-begone!" bigotry. (Currently HUFF urges a boycott of Jackson's Shoes
and the Pacific Trading Company for its seminal role in encouraging the anti-homeless laws downtown). Support the Human Rights Organization
(425-4467) in its campaign to abolish the anti-homeless laws. Support SAFE (Society for Artistic Freedom and Expression) to restore the rights of street performers in Santa Cruz--call 458-3166.

for more information call HUFF: (831) 423-HUFF

Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 309 Cedar PMB 14B S.C. 95060 831-423-4833 6-15-04

More info: www.huffsantacruz.org

groups.yahoo.com/group/HUFF/messages &
groups.yahoo.com/group/HUFF/files
 
 


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Comments

Re: Discrimination Against the Poor Targeted Outside Borders Today

Maybe if morons hadn't vandalized border's bathrooms, they'd still be open.

Maybe if so many of the loiterers on pacific weren't such jerks, it wouldn't be such a problem. But as it stands a great many are loud, abrasive, and disrespectful - and regardless of if they're a minority - they've vocal, and they reflect poorly upon everybody.

If people wouldn't cause problems for Borders, then borders probably wouldn't have to take the steps it has taken to protect it's property and business.
 

Re: Discrimination Against the Poor Targeted Outside Borders Today

When the south had all the Jim Crow laws, the common opinion then was that negros are lazy, prone to crime, sexual perversion, dirty, and stupid. You sound like someone who wants to paint a whole group of people (those experiencing homelessness) in a negative light in order to justify abusing them. I simply do not agree.

Vandalism of bathrooms is a problem, but we don't know that homeless people are the culprits. In fact bored rich kids are more likely to commit vandalism. But to close bathrooms to everyone is collective punishment and penalizes the good businesses who keep their bathrooms open as they take up the overflow (and the expense) of customers from those businesses who have closed their bathrooms.

It affects homeless people more because they can't use the bathroom at their house.

Who wanted that change machine in front of Borders anyway? Its rarely used. Its purpose is obvious: to banish the group of young people who gather there. Young people have been gathering together in every country, in every society, and throughout time. It is a normal activity. Yes, young people can be loud and at times disrespectful. They outgrow it. Why don't they have a nice place downtown where they CAN gather and not bother any businesses?

As for jerks, look in the mirror if you want to see one. You are a bigot. But then anyone reading your post already knows that.
 

Re: Discrimination Against the Poor Targeted Outside Borders Today

Becky's response to n5667 jumps to some major conclusions. Let's look at this again:
"Maybe if morons hadn't vandalized border's bathrooms, they'd still be open".

This is a true statement. He didn't say that homeless people did it, he said that morons did it, and I think we can all agree that anyone who gets kicks out of vandalizing and destroying bathrooms is a moron, be they homeless or rich.

"Maybe if so many of the loiterers on pacific weren't such jerks, it wouldn't be such a problem." This is also a true statement. If everyone on Pacific avenue were respectful of others there wouldn't be movement among residents and businesses in Santa Cruz to change anything. Again, notice he didn't say "homeless". He said "loiterers". In my observations, most of the people who hang out at that corner are youth who probably do have a home, but just are congregating as we all did in our youths. BUT, and this is the point, they can be very nasty to passerbyes, abusive, abrasive, disrespectful, etc. THIS is when problems start, and when residents and businesses want to see changes.

In fact, if you look through the entire posting by n5667, nowhere does he blame homeless people for anything. He doesn't assume those people are homeless. It is those that have taken on the role of advocating for them that see this, and read this where it does not exist. So who is the bigot? The person that is upset about jerks, or the person who assumes those jerks are homeless?

I agree with the response to an earlier post that stated that the majority of homeless people in Santa Cruz County are local people, to an extent. However, in my experience the vast majority of homeless people in the county don't congregate on Pacific Avenue and cause problems (there aren't 2000 "undesirables" every day down there). We are all of us talking about a minority of people. However, it is that minority that causes the problem for the rest of the homeless or otherwise "undesirable" population and, for that matter, everyone else.

I think that a lot of us who live in Santa Cruz don't want to see the walled-off community that sometimes we are accused of when we voice our opinions about the behavior of people downtown. Many of us are working and donating money to help build the new family shelter over on River Street, or to fund the interfaith shelter service, or the Salvation Army transitional housing in Watsonville, or Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, or other groups and organizations that help those who are homeless. Simply bringing out the labels of "bigots", "nazis", "fascists", etc isn't fair and does nothing to help the cause.

In relation to the original posting:

Many of the people who find themselves at odds with the police or city residents downtown or at other places have helped bring themselves to a "dehumanizing" level. Again, I'm not talking about all homeless people here, or even homeless people specifically, but it's hard to argue that people who deal drugs, solicit prostitution and get massivley drunk next to a children's playground (San Lorenzo Park) are living up to accepted human behavior. It's hard to argue that people who prepare and take heroin in the public bathroom at the garage next to Borders are living up to accepted human behavior. Those that park their cars or campers in neighborhoods and then get drunk and rowdy at three in the morning every night are not living up to normal human behavior. These are the actions that many of us are talking about as being unacceptable, and they are the types of situations we witness all the time. Drug and alcohol addiction as well as mental illness requires treatment; as you know from working with people with these problems, they don't always want to seek treatment, and continue with their destructive behaviors. When these people then act out under their various influences, it is the police who respond. They are doing their job. Of course there are cases that you can cite, and have cited here and other places, of overzealousness in dealing with individuals. But rather than just blame the city (I wonder if there is every a city council that will not be called "fascist" by Mr. Norse? Ever?) why not put part of the blame on those individuals whose actions have brought about this response?

And in anticipating the response, no, I'm not blaming all homeless people for all arrests or citations they've ever received. But similarly, you need to stop using language in advocating for them as if none of them have ever done a thing wrong in their entire lives, and were sitting there chanting kumbaya while the big bad police came by and hit them with their batons. There's a middle ground for both sides to take, and to understand that there is frustration among city residents with problems downtown and in other places. This doesn't make us bad people, just because we disagree with you.

And to add to the part about Villalobos, I'm not defending this man but it is interesting to note that Mr. Norse left out the reasoning for his decision. His daughter has a chronic illness, spina bifida, that requires full time assistance from the family, both financial and otherwise. I personally feel that he should have had SOME jail time at least, but this is a sin of omission that I believe is a pattern with Mr. Norse's advocacy so I wanted to point it out. I'm sure he doesn't want to see a little girl in chronic pain go without medical care because her father made a tragic mistake.
 

Re: Discrimination Against the Poor Targeted Outside Borders Today

While Gil certainly covered my comments and Becky's inept reply, I do feel it necessary to deal respond personally...

Becky's quotes are in... quotation marks!

"When the south had all the Jim Crow laws, the common opinion then was that negros are lazy, prone to crime, sexual perversion, dirty, and stupid. You sound like someone who wants to paint a whole group of people (those experiencing homelessness) in a negative light in order to justify abusing them. I simply do not agree."

I never made any blanket statements about the homeless, reread my post.

"Vandalism of bathrooms is a problem, but we don't know that homeless people are the culprits. In fact bored rich kids are more likely to commit vandalism. But to close bathrooms to everyone is collective punishment and penalizes the good businesses who keep their bathrooms open as they take up the overflow (and the expense) of customers from those businesses who have closed their bathrooms."

I never said that homeless vandalized the Border's bathroom, reread my post.

Borders has a very valid reason to close their bathrooms - if you find closed bathrooms to be such an issue, maybe you should champion the cause of combatting vandalism as well.

"It affects homeless people more because they can't use the bathroom at their house."

That is truly a pity, but not Border's fault.

"Who wanted that change machine in front of Borders anyway? Its rarely used. Its purpose is obvious: to banish the group of young people who gather there. Young people have been gathering together in every country, in every society, and throughout time. It is a normal activity. Yes, young people can be loud and at times disrespectful. They outgrow it. Why don't they have a nice place downtown where they CAN gather and not bother any businesses?"

I never addressed the issue of the change machine - and as far as I am aware, there are several programs available for teens. Regardless, a lack of activities to occupy their time is no excuse for their anti-social behavior.

"As for jerks, look in the mirror if you want to see one. You are a bigot. But then anyone reading your post already knows that."

Insults are a poor substitute for argument.
 

More on jerks and morons

Gil: Thank-you for your thoughtful response. Don't you think "moron" and "jerk" and "loiterers" are codewords for the undesirable elements the merchants would rather be gone from near their stores? The people they want gone are are young people, poor people, homeless people, people who are too counter-culture, handicapped people, people of color, but mostly they want the non-shoppers out. You will find the myriad of ordinances forbidding sitting on the sidewalk, begging, lying down, hacky-sacking, sleeping, the "move-along" law, and the blanket-ban to name a few are selectively enforced against people in one of the above groups. The people most cited and arrested are homeless people. But you instead think that the merchants are trying to prevent "jerks" and "morons" from being near the stores. You have simply accepted the City/Merchant/police propaganda re: these ordinances and how the police enforce them.

Perhaps you have observed a wealthy tourist walk their dog on Pacific Ave. They are ignored by the police, or at most, politely told they may not have a dog on the mall. The sign SHOULD say "no homeless kids puppies" on the mall, for the police swoop down and ticket immediately if the owner looks a little scruffy. A homeless person cannot even walk their dog ACROSS Pacific Ave. without being ticketed.

When Mayor Reilly held those community meetings about problems downtown, the merchants said the problems they were most concerned about were vandalism, shoplifting, sexual harrassment of women, drug sales, and not enough bathrooms downtown. What came of those meetings?

No sitting on the sidewalk 14' from a building. No asking for food with a sign after dark. No balls on Pacific Ave. No blowing bubbles unless you are a Bubble performance artist. Oh, and the removal of benches and seating area at two of the four sittable planters downtown despite a Parks and Rec Commission resolution calling for just the opposite.

And I can show you the stats on how much the City spends on services for the homeless and how much it spends on prosecuting homeless people for dropping a toothpick on a sidewalk or crossing a street while homeless.

Borders Books is a HUGE store with hundreds of customers daily. They also serve food, coffee, and soft drinks. For the public to defend them for not opening a bathroom to their customers (not necessarily the general public as Bookshop Santa Cruz does) seems odd to me. Providing a bathroom is just part of a businesses regular operating expenses. Period.

If you want to see loud and abrasive jerks, show up around the time the bars close and see how the UCSC students behave!

Also, what exactly is "the problem" as you see it? Do we have too many street musicians? Too many panhandlers? Too many people with tatoos, piercings and spikey hair? I'm sorry, but I don't see this big problem that requires making it illegal to sit on a sidewalk less than 14' from a building. What you are missing is how merchant-driven this effort to cleanse the streets of non-shoppers is. What you are missing is how our rights disappear at the same time the homeless panhandler's rights disappear.

You still think what is happening is about "jerks" and "morons"?

Well, maybe it is. But they are the jerks and morons who have no problem social-cleansing Pacific Ave. of the poor.
 

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