Sunday, February 26, 2012

TIME FOR CHANGE: "laws that punish and criminalize sleep among homeless people"

A Letter of Support

In Response to Lodging Ticket


Linda's Hearth note:

I have copied below the caring letter, offered from my place of worship to the newly assigned judge, Honorable Paul M. Marigonda, who has before him just now a Traverse and it's antecedents, in a Writ of Habeas Corpus regarding the application of California's P.C. 647(e), describing the crime of Lodging.

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225 Rooney Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95065

February 24, 2012

Honorable Paul M. Marigonda

Superior Court of Santa Cruz County

Department Five

701 Ocean Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Re: Superior Court case #M55730

Dear Judge Marigonda,

We are writing in support of our member, Linda Lemaster, who stands accused of illegal sleeping in public. She is not homeless. Linda is a member in good standing of our Quaker meeting and a beloved part of our community. We write partly out of a concern for her personal welfare. We also write out of a concern as citizens of this country that her rights as our fellow citizen be upheld. It has been easy to forget those rights in all the upset, anger, hurt feelings and general messiness of the struggle of the homeless in Santa Cruz.

Even if the Peace Camp demonstration was poorly carried out, the participants were exercising their right to peaceably assemble which is inalienable and acknowledged in the US Constitution. Acknowledgment of basic rights goes back to the democracy established by William Penn in his colony of Pennsylvania. When Penn, our fellow Quaker, wrote the Frame of Government in 1682 he had in mind carrying out a Holy Experiment in Government along New Testament lines. That document included the establishment of trial by jury, freedom of the press, and absolute freedom of worship. Ninety-four years later the Declaration of Independence confirmed in unforgettable words that the people "are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The First Amendment acknowledges five more rights. Among these are the right to peaceably assemble and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. It is our view that the participants in Peace Camp were peaceably assembled to express their grievances to the Powers that Be.

Accordingly, our request is that the charges against Linda Lemaster be dropped

Thank you for your kind attention to our concerns. We look forward to your timely reply.

John deValcourt

Santa Cruz Friends Meeting

cc: Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors

Jonathan Gettleman, Esq.

Linda's Hearth note: My own trial on a Lodging 647(e) citation, also issued when County Sheriff Deputies cited and arrested protesters at PeaceCamp2010, has not yet been held.

A Demurrer is awaiting a ruling or hearing for similar reasons, now before a different judge: my attorney Jonathan Gettleman filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus about the lodging law's application at PeaceCamp2010, a First Amendment protected demonstration. We await word now from the Superior Court Judge assigned to the case, Honorable Paul Marigonda, Department 5.

PeaceCamp2010: We were there to help show the anti-sleeping laws are unfair and damaging to homeless peoples' health and safety. I guess we are learning it can get even more dangerous? contact me if you want to help with legal defense or have questions or want to get into a listserve being formed to follow these issues. Also consider HUFF's listserv if you want to follow homeless civil rights issues more broadly.

This section of the Lodging law was used to break up a First Amendment free speech protest, demonstrating against laws that punish and criminalize sleep among homeless people, in August 2010. That protest was PeaceCamp2010, held 24/7 outside the Santa Cruz County courthouse at Water and Ocean Streets. Most of the protesters and demonstrators were homeless people despite what showed up in the news. I was thee as a support person and did not really anticipate getting a ticket as part of an underhanded disruption.

Whatever comes down in court, I continue to pray for the greatest good for everyone involved. And invite readers to help out in support of our two attorneys, Jonathan Gettleman and Ed Frey, the latter of whom has been to jail at least twice already around this demonstration.

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