Santa Cruz trial nears end for homeless activist facing charges at PeaceCamp2010 protestPosted: 11/08/2012
SANTA CRUZ -- A Santa Cruz woman charged with illegal lodging during a 2010 protest testified Thursday that the night she was arrested, she was taking care of a sick protester and never intended to sleep there.
Linda Lemaster was one of several people arrested in connection with Peace Camp 2010, a demonstration against the city's anti-camping law that lasted about three months in which numerous people slept on the steps of the Santa Cruz County Courthouse.
Lemaster, a homeless activist, said she didn't actually sleep outside when she would go to visit those participating in the demonstration. If she was unable to make it to her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, she said, she slept in her car.
On the night of Aug. 10, 2010, however, she became very concerned about the health of protester Christopher Doyon, whom she said was having major lung problems.
"I was truly alarmed at how his lungs sounded," she said, appearing nervous on the witness stand. "I could tell he was becoming more alarmed about his condition, too."
She said Doyon refused to go to the hospital and she felt there was no choice but to watch over him for the night. Due to a ruptured disc in her back, sitting for long periods of time is uncomfortable but she used her jacket to prop herself up a bit as she sat by Doyon's side.
At one point, she said, a friend put a blanket over her. She was not actually sleeping when deputies arrived, she said.
In his closing arguments Thursday afternoon, prosecutor Alex Byers rebutted Lemaster's contention that she wasn't actually sleeping. He also argued that Lemaster was given a warning by deputies and could have chosen to leave, but she did not. Deputies came to the courthouse at 4 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2010, he said, then returned at 4:30 a.m. to hand out fliers informing the lodgers they were breaking the law and could be cited. Lemaster chose not to leave, he said, and she was cited.
Byers said county leaders and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office were very tolerant of the protest, waiting 34 days before they issued a single citation and giving numerous warnings.
"Everyone here respects the right to protest and bring problems to light, but that stops when you violate the law, and it stops when your rights infringe upon the rights of others," Byers said, adding that many other jurisdictions would not have been so patient.
He said the Peace Camp protest caused health and safety issues for the community, among other issues.
Showing a photo depicting Lemaster outside the courthouse covered with a blanket, Byers said it clearly depicts her in the act of illegal lodging.
"We don't get to break the law because we don't like it and as jurors, you get to hold people accountable who do," Byers said. "If you agree that beyond a reasonable doubt she lodged in a public or private place, and that she didn't have permission to do it, then your verdict has to be guilty."
yers also said that unlawful lodging doesn't have to require actual sleeping. It can be dozing, resting, etc. Defense attorney Jonathan Gettleman will present his closing arguments Friday morning.
Two other people, Gary Johnson and defense attorney Ed Frey, were previously sentenced to six months in County Jail for violating the illegal lodging law as part of the protest.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96Below, I've cut n pasted just a few comments from responses of Santa Cruz Sentinel readers, to share. With my responses following. I felt Jessica Pasko did a good job in her listening and reporting. PS - I've manage to lose the name of first poster noted here, trying to make the polka dots leave this page. Will try to correct soon. See this and other comments at Sentinel webpgWell, if Mr. Doyon had not been there, you would not have been there, and if you were not there, you would not be where you are now!Linda Ellen Lemaster ·If only you could've gotten a more honest picture of what was going on then...Doyon was not the only person there who needed a hand or some care. I wouldn't have had to be concerned about whether those folks could stay alive and care for their families and critters if the Deputies had been doing the job they claimed in court they were doing. I would not have had to be paying attention to somebody else's lungs if the Deputies had understood what they were responsible for that evening or the several nights just before that. Am I supposed to now feel shame or horror because TWICE I went thru PeaceCamp2010 late at night, out of several dozens of visits prior to that ticket? I dare say now, PC2010 was "messier" in the daytime generally, if that's the real unmentionable crime! The D.A. was putting P2010 on trial, not me nor my conduct nor behavior there. Yet I was not allowed to ...
- RealityCheck SantaCruz ·I wasn't actually sleeping, I was just watching a friend. And another friend put a blanket on me. And I can't sit for long periods of time (unless it's in a courtroom, apparently). I never intended to stay there. But when asked to leave, I said I wasn't going to. Aye.Linda Ellen Lemaster ·Incorrect, realityCheck! I said "yes" when the deputy actually asked me to leave. I wasn't ever ignoring the officers, regardless what you heard or read, and they acknowledged that detail on the stand. But because I attempted to ask the Deputy two questions, because I wasn't hustling away in fear, like the three dudes who'd left their bedding on the steps nearby didm the actual facts didnt' matter incourt. So therefore, per this jury's foreman, I *must* be guilty. But hey, I'm ok with this outcome. What still concerns me is the broadness of this state's status-drivenUnlawful Lodging law 647(e), and how it can be used to terminate almost ANY behaviors, regardless of cause. The Judge's refusal to allow any relevant legal information into the trial, yet encouragment and promotion of the smearing PeaceCamp2010 created gaps in having a coherent trial that I am not responsible for. Yes, I was there. NONE of those 'bedding" pictured were mine. What we have left seems to be: an important enough reason to be jailed, if it comes to that.