!5 Arrested in Sacramento Tent City

Peace be with you

The struggle to hold on to there homes has led 15 houseless people to chose jail over eviction. I think it is time to march on the state capital. I will write a little about Coxey’s army, and the first ever huge protest at the white house soon.

love eternal

After 15 more arrests, homeless campsite still not resolved
By Julie Johnson and Cathy Locke
Published: Sunday, Sep. 13, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1B

Sacramento police arrested 15 more homeless people Saturday at a vacant lot just north of downtown. The campers were released the same day, and some soon returned to the lot that is morphing from a campground into a battleground.

Saturday’s arrests followed at least a half-dozen such raids where police have cited and rousted from 15 to 35 people who have occupied the lot at 1221 C St. since a local attorney opened the site to the homeless on Aug. 21.

Police say the campers are violating an ordinance that prohibits urban camping for longer than 24 hours. The homeless campers say they want a legal “safe ground” with basic services such as garbage pickup and portable toilets.

“Arrests aren’t going to solve it, but unfortunately we believe the continual violation of the ordinance isn’t going to solve it either,” said Sgt. Norm Leong, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department.
Campers determined to stay until a legal camping site is created said Saturday that it’s up to the city to come up with a solution.

“We’ve got to change things,” 64-year-old Jim Gilland said. “So we might have to go to jail as many times as it takes to get this law overturned or amended.”

Lt. James Hendrickson said the arrests were made about 6 a.m. Police confiscated camping gear, as they did last week, and the items are being held as evidence, he said.

Joan Burke, director of advocacy for Loaves & Fishes, reported that all of the campers had been released by 7 p.m. Saturday.

About a dozen campers trickled back to the site early Saturday evening, some just after they were released. Many wore the green T-shirts advocates made with the movement’s slogan, “Safe Ground,” printed across the front.

The movement has attracted at least one person from out of town to join the homeless camp. “I heard what they were doing and I thought, ‘I need to put a mark in my life,’ ” Matthew Zink said. Zink, 25, traveled to Sacramento from out of state and has been staying at the camp for about one week. He said he’s been living outside for many years.

Zink said he wasn’t among those arrested Saturday, but he was prepared to face arrest to stand up for the cause.

Toward the back of the lot, Colin Reid rested in a tent he had just set up for the night. Reid, 48, said he would camp on the lot until the police “throw me in jail and don’t let me out or if (property owner) Mark Merin asks us to leave and I’ll leave.”

Others who had gathered on the lot late Saturday said they were exhausted from the constant fear of arrest, and had made plans to stay elsewhere.

“I needed a night off. It’s my birthday,” Carol Carlile said. Carlile, who turned 58 on Saturday, and several others said they would spend the night at Francis House, a shelter a few blocks away from the lot. Henry Harris, 46, said he got out of jail that afternoon and didn’t want to be arrested again. “It gets old,” he said. “But I will be back Monday. I’d rather be here fighting the police than out on the street where it’s dangerous.”

Sister Libby Fernandez of Loaves & Fishes, which has supported homeless efforts to occupy the “safe ground” campsite, said churches and other agencies are resupplying camping gear. Merin has given permission for homeless people to camp on the site. Merin, an attorney, has said he will challenge the city’s camping ordinance in court.

“As long as they’re prepared to risk arrest, I’m prepared to let them stay here,” Merin said Saturday evening as he visited the site.

The city attorney in court papers says campers have urinated on homes in the area and attracted rats, cockroaches and drug dealing. Leong said police have received several complaints from nearby residents. There is no indication of a solution soon. If the campers return, police are expected to return as well. “The police are charged with enforcing the law,” Hendrickson said.

Supervising City Attorney Gustavo Martinez said last week that city officials are open to mediation. He said campers must first eliminate the noise, odors and litter in the area.

He said a possible solution would be for Merin to build a structure on the site with “approved bathrooms, parking, lighting, a sewer system.” The lot is zoned for light industry.

Merin said he wasn’t sure that his “property is the best place to build a shelter” but that he “would be happy to do it if it made sense.”

The city tried to get a court order to shut the camp down on Thursday, but a Sacramento Superior Court judge put off a decision on the city’s request for at least 12 more days.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster set a new hearing for Sept. 22. He said he had to delay the decision because the city had not properly served the lawsuit on Merin.

City officials have said they are working with the county and advocacy groups to come up with a plan provide more options for people seeking shelter. Under discussion is a legal campground with basic services such as garbage pickup and running water.

But members of a committee studying the issue have said such a project could not realistically be launched until April.

Meanwhile, as campers returned to the lot Saturday evening, Pedro Hernandez, whose home is next door to the lot, said he fears the resettlement and arrests won’t end.

“You tell me how you would feel if you had this problem in your backyard,” Hernandez, 72, said. “You can imagine how me and my family feel.”

FOR FURTHER COMMENTS GO TO: http://www.sacbee.com/city/story/2178985.html?pageNum=2&mi_pluck_action=page_nav#Comments_Container

ADDITIONAL STORY WITH MORE COMMENTS AT http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/2178100.html?commentSort=TimeStampAscending&pageNum=1


2 Responses to “!5 Arrested in Sacramento Tent City”

  1. Robert Norse Says:

    For those interested, I interviewed two-time camping arrestee John Kraintz from the Sacramento protest Tent City and attorney Mark Merin, on whose property the Tent City’s been sitting.

    Go to http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb090913.mp3 and download. Then fast forward to about half way through the audio file.

  2. kateascot Says:

    I spent 2 nights at SafeGround in Sacto (I was born and raised there) and helped to plant their garden two weeks ago. I met Mr. Hernandez the guy who owns the house nextdoor. This man is not impacted as he claims, in fact I see him as a grump who would complain if kids were playing ball and the ball came into his yard. His home is in the same area as Fishes and Loaves has been for many years and where homelessness is very apparent and has been throughout time! Why doesn’t he move? Mark Merin actually had to sue this man to get 10 feet of property that Hernandez stole from him! This is a civil war between the Haves and Havenots pure and simple!

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