Protesters Demand Amnesty for 'Sleepcrimes'
Protesters made their move. Beiers and Scott Kennedy. That action
They quietly rose wrapped in struck the debate dead, without a word of
public hearing or a bit of input from five
blankets, entered the sacred of the seven-member council. Rotkin's
City Council rotunda and stood action came on the heels of a misinforma-
silently behind councilmembers tion campaign from merchants claiming
that the reform proposal would immedi-
holding up signs that said "Go ately overturn the Sleeping Ban.
to Sleep, Goto Jail" Rotkin's rude and roughshod tactics
had usually been reserved for silencing
by Robert Norse homeless speakers. But for the council to
~W"^T~ eeping track of the score in the muzzle its own elite created an angry rift.
•^ ongoing Santa Cruz Sleep JL Councilmembers Beiers, Scott, and
^^Deprivation War can be frustrating Kennedy reacted with outrage, vacating
and confusing, but find yourself a their chairs, denouncing the council action
warm, dry, well-lit spot if you can, and to the media, and later addressing the
read the latest chapter of the ceaseless council from the people's microphone.
struggle to change city law 6.36.010 — Was the seamless unity of the council
the Sleeping Ban sections of. the City's against the homeless hordes at last broken?
Camping Ban, which make sleeping out- Here, some activists hoped, was suddenly
side or in a vehicle illegal at night. room for leverage. Could left-leaning pro-
Slmnestyfor Graphic by Kevin Fuggit
Initial hopes for legalizing sleep in this gressives be mobilized behind the disen- SCeepcrimesi
seemed a token gesture, so the three coun- acknowledging the elementary arithmetic
city of 50,000 (with 500-1500 homeless franchised councilmembers to get some cilmembers could respond to evictions,
real action at last on the Sleeping Ban? of anguish: 225 shelter spaces for over
and fewer than 250 shelter spaces at night) welfare cuts, and SSI casualties with a
But some activists were skeptical, for 800 homeless and a law against sleeping.
focused on an unprecedented and tempes- wringing of hands and a pallid, "We tried."
Celia Scott's Winter Shelter Emergency Matthews and Rotkin were clearly either
tuous division in the generally But in spite of their doubts, activists
proposal didn't actually do anything. idiots or villains here.
homeless-hostile City Council. At the had to admit that Scott's proposal set the
There was no finding that the existing So the activists moved to support the
December 10th council meeting, a stage for a public debate — a debate that reform proposal of Scott, Beiers, and
preemptive (and apparently emergency was a real one and required a had been denied for nearly two decades.
suspension of the Sleeping Ban immedi- Kennedy — who did not speedily accep',
prearranged) strike by And it was clear that Rotkin and
ately. No moratorium on past sleepcrime their embraces. When asked whether sht
Councilmember Mike "Reform-Wrecker" Matthews had consciously stifled that
tickets, as San Francisco had done. No would reintroduce her tabled resolution
Rotkin and Mayor Cynthia Matthews debate. Rotkin, the turncoat "Socialist"
new rules protecting the homeless from Beiers emphatically said no and added
crushed the first substantive discussion on whose ideology had no room for poor
police seizing blankets and punishing pro- that the whole thing had been a mistake in
the City's anti-homeless ban. people presumptuous enough to sleep in
testers, as they had been doing throughout the first place.
But minutes after the discussion began, their cars, and Matthews, the "Miss
the year. No opening of a low-income Scott went so far as to write an opinion
Rotkin butted in with a rarely-used and Manners" Mayor whose hidebound mid-
campground, carpark, or homeless hostel piece in the Santa Cruz County Sentinel
controversial motion to table it, cutting off dle-class blinders caused her more con-
the three councilmembers who introduced To some, Scott's "reform" proposal cern for city council decorum than for
the proposal — Celia Scott, Katherine See Santa Cruz page ten