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Friend of the blog Stephan “Bax” Baxter updates his story of last week on Fullerton’s ticketing of the homeless, “Fullerton’s Homeless Have Not Mastered the Art of Vaporizing” :
At the last Fullerton council meeting, Councilwoman Jan Flory, who won a seat in an election shortly after the recall last November, asked Police Chief Dan Hughes point blank: “Why now?” referring to all the public comments on the “no-camping” violation. The chief acted as if nothing had changed, contradicting his March statement that they “could start enforcing the no camping ordinance if there was a shelter to take them”. On this night, from the same seat, however, he claimed they’ve been enforcing the ordinance all year. Business as usual.
I was informed this week by someone within the Police department, that around two months ago the Chief and one of the homeless liaison officers were called on the carpet by Downtown Fullerton’s highly influential Chamber of Commerce “to do something” about the growing homeless population. To in effect chase them out of the downtown area. (My words.)
The data is in and it can be found in this weeks Fullerton Observer. There can be no doubt that the police have responded to the Chamber’s demands. According to the Observer in the last 7 weeks 363 calls complaining about homeless activity have resulted 59 “no camping” violations, over 50% of which have turned into warrants as the homeless don’t show up for their court dates. (Surprised?) The previous year, presumably while NOT under pressure from the Chamber of Commerce – a year were there was an actual encampment of homeless (i.e. tents, mattresses, BBQ’s, coolers, lawn chairs etc) and at least two stabbing incidents at the Hunt library – only 21 tickets were issued in response to 1,869 calls. At this pace we will issue 438 tickets this year compared to 21 last year. Half of which will turn to warrants and further pressure out county jails. THAT’S AN INCREASE OF CLOSE TO 2,000% … and Hughes looks at Flory and claims “nothing has changed”?
What changed is that when local residents and librarians were complaining around the Hunt library no one in leadership cared, but when the Chamber of Commerce demands action, they get action, and in a rush to please the Chamber and show that tickets have been issued, any homeless person will do. (e.g. Dale and Julia.)
The Chief stated that these tickets are only issued when the homeless refuse to move – this is also is not true. The citing officer, I’m told, is willing to admit that he did not give them that opportunity – he cited them on the spot despite Julia’s offer to move. Even the Chief has admitted that Dale and Julia do not cause problems.
Is this our solution to the homeless problem folks, right after we vote down a homeless shelter? Saying you can’t be homeless does not unhomeless someone!!! And why wouldn’t Chief Hughes admit the pressure was coming from the Chamber when questioned by Flory? Instead he only said that they were responding to complaints, but now we know that last year previous year there were five times as many complaints. This is not reform, this is deception, and decent people are getting ground up by the system in order to appease the Chamber when the answer is as simple as providing a few public restrooms in downtown during the day and a year-round emergency shelter at night.
(On a side note: Chamber of Commerce does very little complaining about the hundreds of drunken idiots the 40+ bars in downtown attract … they after all are spending Daddy’s money.)
Unless a commitment is made to dismiss Dale’s and Julia’s tickets, and that there will be no further ticketing until a shelter or camp is in place, and/or addressing the issue is put on the council agenda in the next week, the first night of our strategically timed, and well-organized one-night camp-ins is scheduled for Sept 17th at the transportation center. This is will be following the next scheduled council meeting at 6:30 earlier that evening. I hope some of you will join me in whatever level of support you’re comfortable with. Showing up at city council and speaking up, making phone calls to the council and city attorney’s office requesting that this stop, showing up at the transportation center with signs in support of us or actually bringing a bed roll and sleeping rough in violation of this ordinance.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to respond to this call of action. If you plan to sleep in protest there will be guidelines you must sign off on as we can not give them cause to arrest or ticket us for any other reason. (Please note: if you are already living in the streets I do not want you participating in this camp in. If you have a safe spot that you usually use, stay there. The next day WE get to go to work and we get to lock our front door. You don’t. I also don’t want to be accused of using you to get attention or of putting you in a position where you will be ticketed. We are not pretending to be homeless, we are privileged by comparison, but we are well intentioned in bringing attention to Fullerton’s criminalization of homelessness when you have no solution other than to go be homeless somewhere else.